Hiring Success for Local Wood Manufacture

Elkay Woods Products (Elkay) is a local manufacturer of cabinetry wood products in Independence, Oregon. The headquarters of Elkay are located in Chicago, Illinois. Elkay is renowned for being an innovative manufacturer of plumbing products and is among the largest cabinetmakers in the U.S with leading brands such as Medallion Cabinets. The local manufacturer in Independence, Oregon has approximately 150 employees.

Prior to becoming involved with Sector Strategies, the company was routinely turning over 5 – 7 new employees weekly due to the individuals in question having poor essential workplace skills –i.e. timeliness, communication and performance. The local manufacturer has been suffering from the high costs associated with this turnover and related training. A change in hiring strategy was needed in order for the plant to remain sustainable and continue business in Oregon.

Kendall Lenhares, Director of Employer Engagement and CEO Tony Frazier, both of Job Growers Incorporated, met with Elkay to tell them about Sector Strategies and the Sector Strategy programs that assist with these types of hiring issues for advanced manufacturing and natural resources.

After learning about the types of issues that Sector Strategies programs could address, Elkay adopted two Sector Strategies programs focused on training and mentoring to help fix their hiring issues.

Halo Program, a youth local program focused on training, education and guidance with a purpose to strengthen the local workforce and promote economic growth in our rural community.
Youth Learn and Construct, aimed at increasing work experience opportunities and internships available to young adults.
Since adding Sector Strategies programs to their hiring system, Elkay has had success in hiring several work-ready young adults that are aware of the importance of soft skills. Plant Manager Tyler Kuenzi relayed that “working with the local Halo Program has been great because new employees that come with their initial training have better expectations on job requirements and come prepared with the soft skills needed to work in a manufacturing environment.”

Participation in these programs has been easy for Elkay and they are excited at the prospect of hiring new employees that come with a work-ready attitude. Because the employees are already prepared with the soft skills necessary for employment, the company’s training for new hires can focus on the hard skills directly related to performing the job at hand.

“We have built a good relationship with the folks at Job Growers, and have received great value from the Sector Strategies programs,” states Kuenzi. “We intend to continue to use Sector Strategies as needed when our staffing levels call for adding new employees. Our experience with these programs has even prompted us to refer several other local businesses in different industries than ours that we know are struggling with similar issues”