Over the past year, a rich partnership has developed between Richmond Community College and the Plastek Group. Through its Customized Training Program, the college has provided a variety of classes at the Hamlet plant. Some have been generic, like forklift training, but others have been industry-specific classes on how to operate the CNC plastic injection molding machines that produce Plastek’s signature oval deodorant stick package.
RCC President Dale McInnis and Joseph Prischak, chairman of the board for the Erie, Pennsylvania-based industry, met recently to discuss the company’s future needs. Prischak donated a new Milacron plastic injection molding machine to the college for use in training. The industry wants to be poised to expand and increase production when the opportunity presents itself. The Hamlet plant produces products for customers in North Carolina and Mexico.
“What we did way back when in Erie was start a mold making apprentice program when we recognized the fact there were few skilled tool makers,” said Prischak. “When we moved into the plastic injection molding industry, we realized there was a shortage of skilled craftsmen and worked with Penn State - Erie to create a plastics engineering technology program. I’d like to see what we can do here with RCC. This area needs industry, you have intelligent people eager to learn, and we’re eager to train them and put them to work.”
McInnis said customer service was what brought Plastek to Hamlet. They wanted to be closer to their North Carolina client. Instilling the concept of customer service will be key to the success of future training.
“We will offer people the opportunity to learn how to operate the new equipment and to take related courses. Those who excel may find employment and a good future with Plastek. Plastek will be able to see if prospective employees are a good fit and will reduce turnover,” said McInnis.
The partners are creating an opportunity for local citizens to gain the skills needed to find employment in today’s specialized job market.