mation they need to educate their employees,” said Jeff Easterling, president of NELMA. “The visual, easyto-follow format presents the information in such an accessible way, it’s perfect for mill employees, dealers, and anyone interested in learning more about lumber grading.” Over at Hancock, the Grader Academy has been integrated into the overall training package for all employees. “We would like all of our employees to be NELMA-certified,” said Matt Duprey, vice president of sawmill sales for Hancock Lumber. “The level of knowledge presented within the Grader Academy prepares them for the reality of grading lumber at so many pieces per minute. Employees can evaluate their progress and pinpoint areas where growth is needed; by the time they get to the grading line, their level of confidence and knowledge is significantly higher than it would be from book training.” Hancock employees are encouraged to get involved with the program as soon as possible, with break times built into the day to allow for online training. Dan Wetmore, finished product manager with Hancock Lumber, likes the fact that the integrated grading game, Above Board, adds an element of fun to the training: “We have seen the engagement level of our employees grow steadily; they enjoy challenging each other to be the fastest grader. There’s a strong tie between the information from the Grader Academy and our employee’s grading accuracy. Using the break room com-
puter consoles is so much friendlier than opening a book!” The program is also loaded onto smartphones and tablets for continued learning on the go. “Our employees enjoy the learning, they have fun with it,” continued Wetmore. “Using the Grader Academy as part of training is something we’ll do from now on.” Duprey, who was the N E LMA Marketing Chair when the software was developed and launched, is pleased with what the online training program has morphed into. “When the Grader Academy was first proposed, we looked at it as a marketing tool,”
he said. “Something innovative and different, a cool way to share a deeper level of wood information. Then the employee training benefits became clear, and we realized this was bigger than NELMA: this program has something for everyone, from customers to homeowners, mill employees, and dealers. The outreach is limitless.” “This is exactly what we’d hope for, the exact way we hoped members would use the Grader Academy,” concluded Easterling. “The success experience by Hancock Lumber illustrates that the idea has gone full circle.”
GRADER ACADEMY has been integrated into overall training for all Hancock employees.
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Building Products Digest
September 2016 edition of Building Products Digest, monthly trade magazine for lumber & building material dealers & distributors