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remain invested in the success of the program, and Riverland in turn remains invested in the success of local industry. “We’re trying to make it easy for students, we’re trying to make it easy for manufacturers to send their employees to us,” Bender said.


best people to get this stuff done. ...The people who live it day in and day out, they know if they can take a step out of the process or improve the quality of how they’re doing things. Those are important activities that go on. That takes someone who has the ability to do that, communicate, listen to others and build upon ideas.”

Even in a tight job market, of course, employers are hoping for more than just meeting minimum requirements in their hiring. Soft skills and motivation can matter as much or more than technical competence.

Viracon strives to fill technical and leadership positions internally, Copeland said, with about 70 percent of supervisory roles filled from within the company. It’s up to employees, though, to take the first step to apply for or build skills for those roles.

“You want them to have the analytical ability to step back and analyze, how are we doing things?” Wendorff said. “And the people closest to the work are the

“When you got to a supervisory role, its not mandatory, but that’s when we start reaching out to Riverland, and Riverland has their supervisory management program

that someone might enroll in for continued education, for which we do do some tuition reimbursement,” Westendorf said. “That’s one where people come to us and say they want to do this. We don’t typically go to someone and say hey, if you want to be the next supervisor, you need to go to Riverland.” But for those who want to take those steps, and are willing to look outside their shifts or departments, Viracon has room for employees to grow, Copeland said. And they’re trying to get that message out to potential applicants. “25 percent of our high school students don’t go on to college, two-year or four-year,” she said. “How do we get them landing jobs right away, get them into the workforce and let them know they’re wanted, and there is a lot

Jorge Martinez says the most helpful thing he learned when he started work at Viracon was how to use a tape measure. “When you use it [at home], you’re using just certain numbers, but now you’re using 16ths and 32nds,” he said through a translator. “[I’m] the first one to cut the glass, so if that glass is measured incorrectly, it’s all downhill from there.”

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Forge October 2017  
Forge October 2017