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Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Benton Franklin Workforce Development Council

Mid Columbia Engineering, Inc

Workforce Challenge

Since 1975, Mid Columbia Engineering, Inc. (MCE) has specialized in the designing, manufacture, and testing of custom mechanical handling and processing equipment for the nuclear industry. MCE’s operational costs were increasing and they needed to streamline production with minimal impact to their employees or the bottom line. At the same time, their output needed to be higher to meet customer demand. MCE consulted with Impact Washington, a non-profit dedicated to assisting Washington state manufacturers compete globally. Impact recommended the implementation of Lean Manufacturing strategies to identify the areas where process improvement was most needed. The Lean implementation would be a three-phase approach: an examination of the gaps where tools were needed; a review of current cycle time and areas where waste was occurring; and finally a move to improving production processes and retraining employees. This was the plan they’d hoped for, but budgets for implementation were very tight.

Workforce Solution

MCE met with their Business Services Representative at WorkSource Columbia Basin. MCE explained that they needed to increase their production through implementing Lean techniques rather by hiring more staff or increasing worktime for current employees. WorkSource Columbia Basin assessed the training needs and verified that those who would receive training were in ‘in-demand occupations’ according to the State. WorkSource Business Services then assisted MCE in applying for the PY09 Governor’s 10% Local Demand Training Fund to help cover the costs of training. The request for the $1,723.00 for training was awarded to MCE.

In the midst of this process MCE’s Administrative HR Assistant left the company, creating an urgent need for replacement. WorkSource Columbia Basin identified a job-seeking candidate and qualified her for an on the job training wage reimbursement to the employer from Project Hire. This allowed MCE to obtain a $1,372.50 savings on the new hire with a 6.2% payroll tax savings under the Hire Act.

Outcomes & Benefits

As a result of the consultations done with Impact Washington and WorkSource Columbia Basin, MCE was able to schedule the first step of their Lean implementation. MCE was also able to start their Lean process for their facility and thirty-five (35) employees which allowed them to postpone the hire of 3 additional staff for their production needs. Additional staff at $23.00 an hour would have cost the company approximately $143,000.00 dollars for the year. By partnering with WorkSource Columbia Basin on these efforts MCE saved close to $150,000.00 for the year, and they eagerly look forward to working with WorkSource Columbia Basin in the future to follow through on their Lean initiative.

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