Cormetech talks shop with board, educators
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Mar 21, 2014 | 852 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CHS Cormetech
CORMETECH employee Stacy Greene explains the company’s manufacturing process to city school representatives Thursday afternoon. From left are Greene; Richard Shaw, school board member; Autumn O’Bryan, CHS principal; Renny Whittenbarger, Career and Technical supervisor; and Martin Ringstaff, director of City Schools. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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Cormetech reached out to the Cleveland Board of Education and city schools administration Thursday in an effort to provide a realistic view of manufacturing today.

Director of Operations Denise Rice said many still have the picture of manufacturing being sweaty, dirty work. Instead, the workplace requires qualified employees well-versed in science, technology, engineering and math to operate machines and robotics.

School board members Peggy Pesterfield, Richard Shaw and George Meacham attended the presentation along with system level and high school administrators.

Rice began her presentation with a video to cover the basic questions about Cormetech.

According to the video, the company is “the leading producer of ceramic honeycomb catalysts for nitrogen oxide NOx admission control and enhanced mercury oxidation used in selected catalytic reduction SCR systems for air pollution control.”

She explained employees need to have both critical thinking skills and creativity. Both are essential in problem-solving on the job. Additional essential soft skills include good communication and teamwork.

Employees at Cormetech do not work on an assembly line. Instead, everyone is grouped into teams in work zones throughout the plant. Rice pointed out each group is led by a team leader, not a foreman like manufacturers in the past. Both team leaders and shift supervisors receive substantial training.

The plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees work on a schedule which permits two three-day weekends every month. All employees are hired on at a training rate of $11 an hour. A self-paced training program permits a raise for every skill learned. The starting wage at the end of the training period is $14 an hour.

Additional opportunities for higher education are available.

Cormetech employs around 130 workers. Rice explained there are still spots available for qualified applicants. The problem is equipping individuals with the needed skills.

“We are hiring people and they have never worked before. There are so many skills they don’t have because they don’t have experience [working],” Rice said. “I think there has been a lot of changes in the generations.”

She said her mother told her to go to college to get a good job, and she was right.

Continued Rice, “That is not the case today. There are a lot of degrees. Some of our jobs do require degrees. There are a lot of applications, but not any good life experience.” 

Cormetech employees Stacy Greene, Brenda Choate and Daniel Allen led school board members and administrators on a tour of the facility.

Rice thanked Career and Technical Education supervisor Renny Whittenbarger for the effort he has put into reaching out to local manufacturers.

He in turn thanked Rice for her work with the high school.

Cleveland High Principal Autumn O’Bryan said the school has had a great partnership with Cormetech.

“Many have the view of manufacturing being dirty and sweaty and nasty, and that is just not what it is,” O’Bryan said. “The more people we can get involved in to see what life looks like after high school is important.” 

Rice agreed with O’Bryan.

“I think that it is important for [board members and administrators] to be close to what is happening in business and industry, and understand what the needs are,” O’Bryan said. “Really, the goal is not for kids to graduate and get a diploma. The goal is to build the skills necessary to be gainfully employed.”

Cormetech and the school system alike would like to turn their focus on educating parents on today’s manufacturing world.