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Denmark Tech program

From left, AZR employees Rodrigo Daud, Kenneth Jones, Wiljust Bradley, Charles Grubbs, Chris Bell and Chris Morris, and DTC employee Stephen Mason. The AZR employees are holding their award plaques for completing the Electromechanical Industrial Maintenance program and Department of Labor apprenticeship program.

DENMARK -- American Zinc Recycling recently honored five graduates of the Electro Mechanical Industrial Maintenance program taught onsite by Denmark Technical College.

Every Friday during working hours, a few of AZR’s employees attended classes taught onsite by Stephen Mason, associate vice president for economic and workforce development at DTC. The employees spent eight hours a week in the apprenticeship program that took one year to complete and was funded by a grant from the Rural Development Partners.

The graduates were not only awarded certificates from DTC but as an added bonus, the Department of Labor recently qualified the program enabling them to receive a coveted Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship for the occupation of electromechanical technician. This highly desired designation allows the graduate to perform industrial maintenance in a plant such as Volvo or Boeing.

In honor of the occasion, AZR President and CEO Rodrigo Daud presented certificates and plaques to graduates Kenneth Jones and Charles Grubbs (Maintenance Service Technicians), Chris Bell (Maintenance Group Leader), Wiljust Bradley (Maintenance Materials Coordinator), and Chris Morris (Plant Engineer).

Eric Stroom, plant manager for AZR, has been working with Denmark Technical College for six years to provide employee training. He noted AZR believes in the importance of investing in its employees and this was a win-win situation for both the employee and the company.

“The program is a formal pathway for the candidates to gain technical knowledge and develop essential skills to support the ongoing maintenance and servicing of our world-class recycling plant.”

AZR Maintenance Superintendent Tom Stidom believes in the program but admits some days it was hard not to pull an employee out of class.

"In a plant that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is a big commitment to have workers not at their job, but we know how important this training is to the employee and the company, so we are willing to make that sacrifice.”

“This has given me the opportunity to better myself and family," Grubbs said.

Bell, who has been with the company for five years said, “Since this was promoted through the corporation and taught on-site, it helped a lot.”

An eight-year veteran of AZR, James, who formerly worked in textile plants for 30 years, said, “I have learned a lot.”

While the course is taught on the AZR work site, the same program is available on the Denmark Tech campus in the Workforce Development Division.

“In the on-campus program, we have a lot of students who are hired before they even graduate. It is very difficult to fill these positions. If someone is willing to invest in a year of study, the jobs are out there,” Mason said.

AZR in not the only local company taking advantage of the training programs offered by DTC. Advance Tabco and Masonite Doors in Denmark have also done so.

Another option is a Mobile Training Unit, a self-contained training vehicle that allows Denmark Tech to do on-location training. The MTU brings needed training equipment to the company site or can also be utilized to conduct free STEM awareness classes for local schools and across the state.

For more information, contact Stephen Mason at 803-793-5155.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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