Beyond Just Hiring
This New Jersey shop sees employee training as fundamental to its success.
New Jersey Precision Technologies Inc. (NJPT), located in Mountainside, New Jersey, is one of the largest EDM shops in the country, employing more than 40 Mitsubishi wire and sinker machines. The company produces parts for job shops as well as manufacturers of precision equipment. Its products are found in medical devices, aerospace products, plastic extrusion tooling, molds, dies, semiconductor equipment, instrumentation, automotive components and consumer products.
Bob Tarantino, president, started the business in 1989 with two employees operating just a couple of EDMs. Today, NJPT employs more than 70 machine operators, setup technicians, engineers and support staff. He says sales have steadily increased over the years, as has the company’s customer base.
There are a number of keys to NJPT’s success, but one that Mr. Tarantino points to with pride is the time and effort the company expends in training every new employee. This training is at the forefront of the shop’s overall business strategy. As he puts it, “Having consistent and ongoing training is one of the most important things we can do to make sure we make the best possible products for our customers.”
Each new hire spends the first week on the job in some type of formal onboarding and training program that serves to acquaint him or her with NJPT’s processes, equipment, products, services, core values and customers. This is accomplished through a combination of classroom study in the company’s technical training center and on-equipment training in the shop.
Mr. Tarantino is a firm believer in the power of cross-training, and not just on different machines within a department, but on procedures and equipment in others as well. EDM operators, for example, learn about the shop’s safety program, quality procedures, work instructions, ISO 9001 and 13485 standards, CAD systems, lean concepts, and job-tracking system. These operators also spend time in the engineering department learning procedures and design methodologies. As a result, some of NJPT’s EDM operators possess skills not normally expected in such positions.
Engineers and management personnel undergo the same training as the EDM operators, and this is supplemented with additional instruction about document control, drawing revision procedures and the company’s enterprise resource planning system. Additionally, new engineers learn the operation of key production equipment, along with the use of inspection tools and equipment.
The goal is to expose employees to as many areas of the operation as possible and equip them with a broad range of critical skills. “As a job shop, cross-training allows us to put resources where they are most needed without having to increase or decrease staff based on changing workloads. It helps us all,” Mr. Tarantino says.
He says he is always on the lookout for new talent. He seeks out people who have an interest in technology, manufacturing or engineering and often hires those with very limited experience for entry-level positions. It is common for these new hires to be also pursuing college degrees, on either full-time or part-time bases, enabling them to learn the skills needed to function effectively at NJPT while also earning money to help pay for school. The company’s tuition assistance program seems to motivate many of its employees, Mr. Tarantino says. As a three-shift operation, the shop also can offer a certain amount of flexibility to those workers who also are attending school, allowing them to work during the day and pursue their studies in the evening, or vice versa.
Some of NJPT’s more senior employees started with the company as such employees/students, and even those who have left over the years still hold the company in high esteem, Mr. Tarantino says. It is not unusual for them to maintain relationships as either customers or suppliers. It is his view that, although a shop never wants to lose a good, knowledgeable employee, having invested in that employee’s development could still prove beneficial to that shop sometime in the future. “I’d rather fully train an employee and take the risk of having them leave, than undertrain an employee and have them stay,” he says.