LITTLE FALLS -- More than 740 manufacturing employees at Larson/Glastron Boats of Little Falls will receive customized training, thanks to a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant awarded to Central Lakes College.
CLC was awarded a $283,230 grant to provide entry-level and advanced training and retraining in assembly, production, maintenance, finishing and shipping to Larson employees. Larson, a $200 million company, will contribute an in-kind match of $390,256 to fund the three-year training project.
Larson/Glastron Boats' staff opened its doors Thursday to give CLC and the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership staff a chance to tour its facility to see firsthand what employees do and the technology that goes with it. Larson/Glastron Boats' employees manufacture fiberglass runabout and cruiser boats.
After the tour the group of about 20 attended a grant-signing luncheon/presentation at the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce.
The objective of the grant money is to reduce costs, create a flexible environment and empower team decision-making, said Paul Moe, executive director of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.
Moe said the partnership, which has been in Minnesota for 22 years, has stimulated growth in training and development. He said it has worked with thousands of workers in the state to train employees to keep them updated on technology.
Moe said the grants are fully funded by the state, not through federal funds.
Joe Opatz, CLC interim president, said: "This is a terrific example of working with communities to be at the cutting edge."
Jeff Olson, president of Larson/Glastron Boats, said the grant gives the company another resource or tool to have the extra manpower to produce major products. He said it reduces costs and is manager-directed.
Olson said the grant will allow the company to train every manufacturing employee through Kaizen, a Japanese term that means continuous incremental improvement, which focuses on teamwork, personal discipline and improved morale.
Lyle Lalim, Larson's director of lean operations, said he currently trains one team of employees a month and the grant will allow more teams to be trained at one time through the college.
Rep. Greg Blaine, R-Little Falls, said: "This is a good thing for everyone involved. The tour opened my eyes on what's beyond those beautiful boats."
Gail O'Kane of the chancellor's office at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities said she is pleased with the partnership. She said it is important to increase productivity at manufacturing firms and to provide good-paying jobs.
"My dad had a manufacturing job all his adult life and put all three of us kids in college. He was a hard worker and he was tired a lot on weekends, but he was proud of his job," she said. "This is what you are supplying to this community. A sense of pride."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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