Johnson Controls recently received the 2012 Innovative Industry Training Award from the State of Missouri. Pictured (from left) are Ron Bly, Eldon mayor; William Stone, production line tech student; Debbie Wasmer, HR supervisor; Marsha Chapman, production line tech student; Angie Sturm, HR manager; Don Smith, Plant Manager; Corey Boicourt, production line tech student; Brenda Bryan, State Fair community college director; Steve Snodgrass, SFCC Instructor. Below, Smith accepts the award with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who is pictured at left.

Automotive plant recognized for innovative training program


When the Johnson Controls Automotive Experience plant in Eldon, Mo., introduced several new product lines and replaced outdated machinery with state-of-the-art equipment, its employees needed new skills to operate it.


To educate employees on the new equipment and processes, Don Smith, plant manager, introduced the Production Line Tech Certification program. The Eldon plant manufactures metal seat components for the automotive market.


The training program was recently recognized by the State of Missouri Department of Workforce Development, who awarded the plant the 2012 Innovative Industry Training Award. The plant was praised for its innovative approach to training development.


Partnering with Missouri’s State Fair Community College (SFCC), Eldon offers its production assistants the chance to upgrade their skills and earn certification as qualified line technicians.


“It’s what made sense … they’re good folks who already had a knowledge basis,” said Angela Sturm, human resources manager at Eldon.


In addition, the SFCC allowed the employees earned certification credits to count toward an associate degree if they chose to pursue a degree.


“It is difficult to work full time and take classes – but they’re doing it,” Sturm said.


Sturm hopes this effort will encourage the community’s secondary students to pursue similar education opportunities in manufacturing at Eldon as well.

With the first group of techs graduating in spring 2013, Sturm believes this program will attract more employees, especially considering the training’s success.


“It was the first time the program was implemented and it won [the award]. It’s pretty amazing,” said Sturm.