When you think of Danville, Kentucky, high-tech aeronautics may not the first thing to come to mind. This beautiful small town with its antique stores and craft boutiques lining the streets. Boyle County has a booming manufacturing industry nestled among the picturesque rolling hills. Several industries are located in this small region, including a top manufacturer for aircraft brakes, Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems.
Danville may seem like a strange choice for two Meggitt facilities. They have both a carbon production facility, as well as a distribution and receiving facility. When speaking to their HR Manager, Mike Gay, he thinks Danville is a perfect choice for two reasons: affordability and location. He says Danville is a great place for companies. Not only is the cost of living, land, and overhead expenses lower than Meggitt’s previous location in Cleveland, Ohio, it is located within a few hours of large shipping companies.
Gay believes it is these factors, along with a solid workforce that will make this location a “Supersite” for North America, meaning they will be the primary distributer for aircraft brake pads in North America. This also means they are poised for growth and the addition of new employees. Meggitt wants to see their company consolidate locations, while expanding their workforce. The process has already started with the addition of an oxygen tank refill area and a repair station in 2016. These two additions brought 40 new jobs to Danville.
On the subject of growth, Gay says, “Where opportunity meets preparedness, we are in the preparedness stage and we are already seeing some of that opportunity come our way.” One way they have been preparing is through building closer partnerships with Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass, in Danville. As BCTC works to expand their technical programs, certain areas of their training development focuses on the skills Meggitt is looking for, leaving the Kentucky Career Center to recruit qualified applicants with programs like On-the-Job Training or internships – both of which allows the individual to learn the practical skills through hands-on experience at a reduced cost.
The Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass assists in other ways as well. Gay reports that about half of their entry-level employees utilize the career center for assistance with Meggitt’s application process. He adds, “These are not low paying jobs either…we offer a decent salary even for entry-level positions that don’t require a lot of skill.” Gay expects Meggitt’s need for the Career Center to be more important as the company continues to expand. “There are going to be positions that we [Meggitt] don’t have currently that we will need to staff in the future. The Career Center will be key in helping us get the word out to people who live in and around the area or across the region. The more we work together in the future, the better off we’ll be.”
Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems is dedicated to working with local schools and the Career Center to create a better workforce in the region. Their goal is to see more young people trained in lean manufacturing techniques. In fact, Gay would love to see high schools teach lean manufacturing principles to their students, particularly those who have no interest in going to college. “A high school student who understands the basics of lean manufacturing would be more qualified than most other applicants,” he says.
Gay recommends the book “Creating a Lean Culture” by David Mann, Third Edition. He sees all manufacturers moving to lean principles – from the biggest production facility to the smallest supplier. A new employee with Meggitt really needs to learn the basic principles in the first 90 days if they are going to succeed. Gay says, “Out of our 184 employees, all 184 are going to have to master these principles. It doesn’t matter your position. Our custodian, along with our site manager is doing this, and everybody in between.” Gay believes in the importance of lean manufacturing techniques so strongly he is willing to invest in educating youth on these principles. The Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass is planning on developing a project with Meggitt to educate older youth participants (ages 18 – 24) on these lean manufacturing principles in order to meet this demand and provide apprenticeship opportunities.
If you would like to learn more about the services available to employers and job seekers, please visit: www.ckycareers.com or visit a Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass location near you.
These services are funded by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and administered by the Bluegrass Area Development District, under the guidance of the Bluegrass Workforce Innovation Board and 17-county Local Elected Officials of the Bluegrass Region.