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Manufacturing a Better Tomorrow

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Manufacturing-Pipeline-Program

As the school year comes to a close, many students are beginning to set their sights on getting a summer job. Whether it is painting houses or busing tables, these summer jobs often cultivate life skills in addition to building character. Clichéd adages aside, these crucial experiences can often impart the dedication and work ethic onto an individual that will serve them later in life.

Alongside The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) and several manufacturing companies throughout the area, Flowserve participates in the Manufacturing Pipeline Program, a paid mentoring and summer internship program. Participating students learn about the manufacturing industry, the company they are matched with, and available career pathways.

The mentoring component of the program began last December and will continue to run until May. During this portion of the program, students visit the employer site for a 90-minute session once a month and earn a wage for their time. If the student is deemed a good fit, they will be offered a paid summer internship that lasts for six to eight weeks.

For Sue Sabin, a manufacturing supervisor at Flowserve, this is a great way to give back.

“I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life and I’m starting to look at winding down,” she said. “As I finish up, I want to create a volunteer path for myself when I retire. I want to help get people ready for the workforce.”

A desire to mentor a new generation of professionals is shared by other employees at Flowserve. Josh Iocca, a plant manager, has lived in the Kalamazoo area for most of his life and wants to make sure that young people in the community have the proper tools to forge a career in manufacturing just like he did.

“My goal has been to develop a talent pipeline,” he said. “I love Kalamazoo, I grew up here, and my family lives here. I want to know what I can do to help.”

This is Flowserve’s second year participating in the program and that means fine-tuning their processes so that students get the most out of their experiences with the organization. Sabin works alongside staff at The Promise to select employee volunteers and coordinate scheduling.

“I believe that the connection between business, community, and schools should be cohesive. We need to make sure that the students are getting what they need to be able to work and be an effective employee,” said Sabin. “In support of our community, I did a cookout in the neighborhood to invite people to tour our plant and expose them to a job fair. Flowserve is not offering a job at low pay; we offer a living wage and are proud of it.”

Primarily working with students from Loy Norrix High School, Flowserve aspires to use this program as a way to diversify the workplace. A former Loy Norrix grad himself, Iocca sees the importance of recognizing and fostering talent among youth.

“The next generation is an untapped resource and reaching out to them could be life changing for our neighbors and our community,” Iocca said. “We are about to make a turn and have hired some Kalamazoo students. We see promise with the students in the mentor program who may become future employees.”

When asked what her favorite part of the Manufacturing Pipeline Program has been, Sabin replied, “I love it when I see students connect the dots and discover that technology can be applied to work life.”

Iocca indicated that he was most excited about the support that the mentors are showing the students.

“Our mentors are loving this program and learning respect for the next generation,” he said. “I love hearing things like, ‘That kid is a really hard worker, I hope they want to be a machinist.’ It is great to see.”

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