Featured Projects

WDI highlights projects as an example of the many meaningful results businesses and organizations
experience after working with our regional staff.‚Äč

Sparking Innovation and Networking Among Trainers (Statewide)

Date: January 20, 2017

On December 1, 2016, 45 trainers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) came together to share best practices and improve their teaching techniques. The summit, co-sponsored by WDI, brought together trainers from every IBEW local across New York State. This full day summit began with an introductory ice breaker that was used to help the trainers get to know one another. Next, a keynote address was provided by Jane Thompson, Director of Apprenticeship, NYS Department of Labor. The day also included workshops on diversity and integrating millennials into apprenticeship programs. During the session on diversity, role playing was used to help trainers understand the perspectives of those from different backgrounds and cultures. In addition, the trainers discussed curriculum, practices for reviewing homework, and other tips for improving course instruction. There were also workshops that focused on training equipment and facilities, the structure of training programs, the use of mentors, and the latest technology being applied in the electrical field.

The feedback from the summit was very positive, with many of the trainers noting they intended to incorporate some of the lessons learned into their own teaching practices. This type of event that provides training and idea exchange for the individuals responsible for the trades apprentice programs may be a best practice we will look to promote for other trades or even amongst various trades.

Stitching Together Jobs, Growth and Brighter Futures (Putnam County)

Date: January 20, 2017

Addiction’s cruelty can tear up, break down, and splinter apart a once-healthy life. The long, tough climb back to sobriety cannot be done alone. Overcoming addiction requires discipline. It requires support. And it requires the right kind of helping hands with two crucial ingredients for rebuilding a life: hope and purpose.

Enter Unshattered.

Unshattered is the social enterprise partner of the Walter Hoving Home (WHH), located in Garrison, Putnam County, New York. WHH provides recovery and addiction treatment services for women. 

The hybrid Unshattered program provides life and job skills as well as employment through structured, production-focused training. Through the manufacture of handbags and other textile products out of repurposed items, women develop their skills in sewing, textiles, marketing, and project management.

“These products are tangible representations of the transformation occurring in their lives,” says Unshattered’s founder and CEO, Kelly Lyndgaard. “The process of taking pieces of discarded materials and turning them into beautiful handbags helps our artists discover the power of true change, that wholeness can be returned to something once broken.”

Founded in 2013, Unshattered has enjoyed unexpected success and growth since its first sales in January 2014. Lyndgaard quickly saw that Unshattered would need additional space and a strategic plan to respond to the demand not just from people wanting to buy its products but from women wanting to enroll in the apprenticeship program through WHH.

With this in mind, Lyndgaard reached out to WDI for assistance. She worked closely with Mary Jane Bertram, WDI’s Hudson Valley Regional Director, to submit an application to fund rental space at the Accelerator in New Windsor, New York. The rental space at The Accelerator would provide Unshattered with the room to establish multiple sewing stations, manage orders and materials, and take on up to 12 apprentices at a time from WHH.

WDI recently followed up with Lyndgaard and Unshattered for a progress update. “Of 12 apprentices,” she shared, “two are attending college, five are in full time jobs in the community, one is employed by Unshattered and the others are in apprenticeship roles looking to move into full time employment in the next six months.” During its time at The Accelerator, Unshattered also saw a remarkable 150% increase in sales, including 125% from new markets and clients. She added that being located at The Accelerator had a positive impact on Unshattered’s inventory management, resource use, and ability to train apprentices on machines used in production at regionally located garment and textile companies. As a result of WDI’s support, Lyndgaard stated, “twelve women are living healthy, sober lives and have created ongoing roles for women looking to build the same path forward.”

It doesn’t take a poet to see how, piece by piece, the bags, along with the lives of the women constructing them, come together to constitute something with strength, beauty, and purpose.

Staff Training Leads to Diversification and Growth at Precision Systems Manufacturing, Inc. (Onondaga County)

Date: January 20, 2017

A trend that WDI is seeing with increasing frequency is a concerted effort by NYS manufacturers to diversify product lines so that companies are less susceptible to downturns in specific industries or sectors. Precision Systems Manufacturing (PSMI) in Liverpool NY, under new management, has taken several deliberate steps in this direction with marked success.

PSMI is a contract manufacturing facility that provides a number of services including CNC Machining, Precision Sheet Metal/Laser Cutting, Welding/Fabrication, Special Machine Design and Build, Electromechanical Assembly, and General Machining. A few years ago the military market represented a sizable portion of PSMI’s business, and so the company was adversely effected by military defense cuts. In 2014 the company was sold to new owners, who have prioritized investments in staff as a mechanism to diversify and grow.

WDI worked with PSMI on two projects recently that helped move the company forward into a stronger position. A customized sales training program for the sales team focused on a systematic approach to setting goals, assessing performance, and sharpening skills in the areas of sales, human relations, customer service, and listening/questioning. An ISO Certification training program provided the company with a platform to sustain and grow the improvements they have been making in culture, processes, and procedures. The two programs combined set the stage for the company to look for opportunities for strategic growth with new customers that require the ISO Certification.

PSMI President Ted Jeske reports that “steady growth because of investments in training is enabling our company to provide job security and new jobs”. Specifically, the company has added five (5) new jobs bringing the total workforce size to 53, increased revenues from new markets/services significantly, and increased overall revenues by 25%. In addition, the company has seen significant quality improvements such as a reduction in re-works, reduced lead times for production, and improvements in the use of resources. Mr. Jeske also notes that support from WDI for these initiatives had double the impact because it enabled the company to direct other resources to additional investments in capital equipment and staff.

PSMI is an example of a company finding success due to its recognition of staff as an asset, and strategic investments in those staff.