At the AIM Institute, our mission is to help advance the injection molding industry by striving to deliver the highest quality, high-level educational programs to practicing professionals involved in the design, development, and manufacture of plastic parts.
We sat down with EVCO leadership to discuss how the AIM Institute’s accredited programs, the PTE Certificate Program and Molders’ Series, have benefited their people and organization. Read the interview between EVCO leaders and Kevin Rottinghaus (KR), Beaumont Sr. Regional Sales Manager, to get insight on the direct benefit education and training provides.
Meet the EVCO team:
Jason St. Mary (JSM), Plant Process Manager
Mike Busser (MB), Innovation Center Manager
Paul Wilichowski (PW), Director of Engineering
Amy Ruehlow (AR), Director of Human Resources
KR: The American Injection Molding Institute has the only ANAB-accredited, ISO 17011 compliant plastics training and education programs in the world. How has that driven your decision to utilize their programs for continuous education?
JSM: Initially, it did not impact our decision. We were more drawn to the programming, facilities, staff and curriculum that we believe is superior to other plastics training programs on the market. AIM promotes the four pillars of the injection molding industry -plastic materials, mold design, injection molding processing, and part design- for success, which is a more thorough methodology. The programs’ ability to evolve over time, based on the input of the Advisory Board (which EVCO participates in), is crucial to continuous improvement.
KR: How does the integration of plastic materials, mold design, processing, and part design compare to other programs?
MB: Taking a deep dive into the four pillars from the base/foundation. Other programs don’t necessarily dig into the “how’s” and “why’s.” It allows our employees to understand cause and effect (root cause analysis) and teaches critical thinking and scientific processing.
JSM: The AIM Institute’s PTE Program promotes critical thinking and creative thinking, and breaks down the four pillars to their foundations- building them one block at a time for complete understanding. The AIM Institute is unique because it’s an education institute vs a “certificate giver.” Attendees are held to a higher standard for the benefit of the industry. Plus, the certificates are backed by ANAB.
MB: It’s also unique because it specifically caters to EVCO’s core competency of injection molding. We find the program delivers similar content and education that an engineer degree program would, in approximately 10 months. The Molders’ Series allows our employees an avenue to become extremely knowledgeable in injection molding and breaks the process down into stages, allowing all aptitude levels to be successful.
PW: The enthusiasm of the people returning from AIM training really stands out. I have gotten a lot of feedback that their training was valuable. Some people have indicated portions were very challenging for them, but still seemed to be glad they went through it. Our people that completed training help push other people to step forward and improve their skills. People have come back wanting to apply what they learned.
MB: As someone who has attended AIM classes, my education has given me the ability to critically solve problems involving significant scrap reduction. It also provided the confidence and ability to challenge others to use scientific data to solve problems. Ultimately, we wanted to invest in knowledge and skills that can provide our team with proven methods to put data behind our decisions, and either be capable of defending these decisions (liability) or find a path to resolution. Our customers and internal staff challenge the molding process on an ongoing basis and we need training and skills to be able to prove that we have sound methods. Beaumont has helped us move in this direction.
KR: What are your impressions of the quality of the instructors?
MB: AIM instructors are at the top of our industry. They are not simply “teachers” or “coaches,” as many of them conduct research on materials, process, and simulation. They are constantly learning and passing that knowledge along to their students.
KR: It’s evident that EVCO invests in its employees’ futures with education and training. Can you explain more about how you use the AIM Institute as a way of encouraging employees to educate themselves in order to influence growth in their own career goals?
PW: We hire people that want to keep learning and growing skills. We want people to apply continuous improvement to themselves as well as their jobs. When someone wants more education or training, getting a college degree or a master’s is often brought up. In reality, those options often have an undesirable time commitment and some requirements do not add value. The AIM Institute’s training is targeted to our industry, which means it teaches skills that can be put to use now.
KR: On the management side, why is investing in your workforce important to EVCO for employee retention?
AR: We want to ensure our employees know they are EVCO’s greatest resource. Talented people want to have an advancement path. Investing in their training moves them through that advancement more quickly and builds their skills up more quickly versus just learning on the job.
KR: Do you feel the AIM Institute’s programs have been helpful in retaining and recruiting personnel?
AR: Yes, definitely. We recently had a candidate with a “better” job offer, but once he learned that EVCO was willing to invest in him and provide AIM training, he accepted EVCO’s offer and has excelled since coming on board.
PW: I do feel AIM has been helpful in retaining and recruiting people. The speed of change is growing and it’s more normal for people to ask themselves, “What’s next for me?” while they’re still completing the last transition. The different sessions of AIM training make good steps to continue building skills. When employees want advancement, we need them to know we have a plan to provide the path and training to get there so they don’t need to change employers. Having training that lays out their advancement makes it easy to stay with EVCO.
KR: On behalf of Beaumont and the AIM Institute, we want to thank you all for your time today. We’re happy to hear how AIM education is helping EVCO and its employees succeed in the plastics industry and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership!