A1 Tool A Leader in Attracting and Retaining Skilled Craftsmen
A1 Tool was recently featured in a Chicago Tribune story about the need for skilled workers in Chicago’s manufacturing sector. (Manufacturing's big challenge: Finding skilled and interested workers, Chicago Tribune, December 17, 2016)
Carlos Mojica, from left, Curt Nikula and Sergio Sosa work on a molding press Nov. 30, 2016, at A1 Tool in Melrose Park. The company has made promotional videos to help show job applicants what working there is like. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
In the Tribune article, A1 stands out as a leader in attracting and retaining skilled workers. “A1…built a spacious kitchen and gym to help retain talent and created a process map with detailed steps and goals that not only improves efficiency but shows people how to move up the career ladder, from sweeping floors to running grinders to fitting molds.”
According to A1 owner and president Geoff Luther, "What I've recognized is that most companies are failing at providing a path for success.” But not at A1. Even entry-level jobs start at about $12 to $13 an hour, Luther said, and those who move up to become mold-makers can earn more than $30 an hour.
A Case in Point
Gregory Zaucha, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer, started as a summer intern when he was 16. He was sweeping floors and cleaning machines for $8 an hour ("character building”). Zaucha stayed on at the plant through community college and a bachelor's program at University of Illinois at Chicago, where he recently earned his mechanical engineering degree.
Even though Zaucha said he initially dreamed of becoming a police officer, his factory colleagues persuaded him that manufacturing would be a better route. Zaucha said he’s glad he got his hands dirty on the floor, because "it makes me a better designer; I understand how things actually work."
Owner and President Geoff Luther is seen Nov. 30, 2016, at A1 Tool in Melrose Park. Luther's company built a kitchen and gym to help retain talent and created a process map that shows workers how to move up the career ladder. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Open and read the article Manufacturing's big challenge: Finding skilled and interested workers