contributed by Katie Travers
In the fall of 2016, Rob Clark, Industrial Operations Manager for West Chester Protective Gear (WCPG), had a problem. Business at the distribution center was booming – he just couldn’t find enough reliable, hard-working folks to meet the growing demand. He reached out to Great Oaks Adult Education seeking quality individuals to fill positions in the warehouse operation. WCPG is the largest stocking merchant of safety gloves in the United States, the warehouse is located just minutes from Scarlet Oaks on Kemper Road.
WCPG and Rob Clark recognized the potential to greatly strengthen the workforce through recruiting Great Oaks Aspire students, however existing hiring criteria created some obstacles. With the cooperation of the Human Resources department, West Chester reshaped its screening process in order to obtain the best, hardest-working candidates. Many students who sought to apply for the jobs didn’t have the computer skills needed to apply online or to submit a resume, so Rob came to Scarlet Oaks to meet the students face to face. Problem solved! Further, old hiring criteria stated that a candidate have a high school diploma or GED equivalent; however, the organization amended the requirement to include those actively attending HSE classes at Great Oaks. Problem solved! When students applying for a job lacked polish with his/her English skills, they eliminated that requirement, provided the student was participating in ESOL classes at Great Oaks. Problem solved!
Company flexibility and adapted hiring practices enabled Rob to assemble the team he needed to support the rapidly growing distribution center. Many Great Oaks Aspire students work in the unloading department – an operation that has seen 50% productivity increase since the partnership with Great Oaks Aspire began. Others learn new skills and populate the picking and shipping teams. In July, the picking team hit the highest on time performance for a month’s activity in twelve years.
The revision of hiring practices at WCPG has caught the eye of other industry employers. The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce has asked the Great Oaks Aspire Transitions Coordinators, Katie Travers and Kim Barron, to speak at an upcoming Q & A session with member businesses (September 28th 1pm-3pm), about these types of hiring practice changes. Also, the Supply Chain OKI (http://www.supplychainoki.com) asked the Great Oaks Aspire Transitions Coordinators to speak at their August 2017 meeting, on these new hiring practices.
Rob Clark says “Businesses will tell you the greatest challenge they face today is attracting and retaining great employees. We struggled mightily to find quality people until we connected with the Aspire team at Great Oaks Career Campuses. I’m thrilled to say that the results have greatly exceeded my expectations – it has transformed our business.”
Great Oaks Aspire and WCPG will continue to work together for employment in the future.