Building Relationships and Futures Through Education
Since our founding, Hobson & Motzer has made it a point to develop and maintain strong relationships with local technical high schools. Throughout the years, this has proven to be a cherished reciprocal relationship for both support and opportunity.
Ongoing education in and about manufacturing for students is essential for the industry to continue to bridge the skills gap and prepare new generations of manufacturing professionals and toolmakers. Hobson & Motzer President Bruce Dworak stressed the importance of the relationships that Hobson & Motzer has forged with these schools. “Supporting our technical school system in Connecticut nurtures the future of the industry and helps us attract new generations of talent. This helps keep the company vibrant and growing, particularly now as a sizable generation of skilled tradesmen have begun to retire. It’s critical that these programs continue to grow and flourish. They’re a big part of the puzzle to maintain a healthy pipeline of skill into the industry overall,” Dworak said.
The importance of Hobson & Motzer’s relationships with local vocational technical schools, part of Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS), has been integral to supporting our skilled workforce needs. Students at CTECS schools in the manufacturing cluster have the opportunity in their junior and senior years to work at partner companies like Hobson & Motzer across the state, developing important hands-on experience in the industry.
It Started with a Familiar Face at H. C. Wilcox Technical High School
In the 1960s, one of Hobson & Motzer’s own, a top diemaker and a former apprentice, became director of the tool and die program at H.C. Wilcox. The loss of this valuable employee had a silver lining, because it was this relationship that really accelerated the level of exchange between our organizations. Part of Hobson & Motzer’s blueprint is to invest in the most advanced equipment and technology—something we are still committed to today; as such, our former collegue was able to offer his expertise working with that era’s leading-edge technology with his students. Eager to develop the next generation of toolmakers, it quickly became an excellent partnership in collaboration that continues today.
Hobson & Motzer’s relationship with H.C. Wilcox has transitioned many students into employees over the years. This has fostered a high level of engagement and willingness to help and support, from both a company level and an employee/alumni standpoint. It maintains an meaningful connection to the school and provides a way of giving back. Hobson & Motzer Toolroom Supervisor Chuck Cardillo, a graduate of Wilcox’s Machine Tool program, came to Hobson & Motzer after completing a fifth year tool and die program in 1981. Cardillo sits on the Technical Trade Advisory Council, which is focused on keeping instructors up to date on exactly what their students need to know, preparing them to work in an ever-evolving industry. This ensures the curriculums have a direct link to those working in the trade day to day. Several other Hobson & Motzer team members also volunteer on committees for H.C. Wilcox and have for many years, providing valuable input, expertise, and time, and to help guide decisions that support and enhance the quality of the educational experience.
Vinal Technical High School Sets a Standard
Vinal Technical High School in Middletown serves Middlesex County students and offers specialized skills training for many industries, including precision machining. Many Vinal Tech alumni have found a career here at Hobson & Motzer, including President Bruce Dworak, who is also a 1989 graduate of the school’s Machine Tool program. Dworak looks back on what were formative years for him at Vinal Tech and believes the school played a critical role in his path. “I attended Vinal when manufacturing in the U.S. was in decline; when many students were choosing a different path. Decades of this has created the skills gap we face today. Now that the tides have turned, schools like Vinal Tech play a critical role in the future of manufacturing in the United States.”
Vinal Tech is also active in the CTECS Student Workforce program, which provides students on-the-job experiences with employers and clients throughout Connecticut. Hobson & Motzer has worked closely with Vinal to bring students who are in this program to work in our plants. Pre-COVID, we would host student groups for plant tours, exposing them to the company and manufacturing environment. Doing so creates an opportunity to bridge the classroom and real-life manufacturing for local technical students, an invaluable experience that establishes familiarity with our company that can lead to interest in the Student Workforce program.
Support, Collaboration, Mentorship
Today Hobson & Motzer actively employs 51 team members who have graduated from CTECS schools, mostly H.C. Wilcox and Vinal Tech, but also several other schools. There are 20 schools in total. We are proud of our association with the CTECS program, which dates back nearly 100 years in one form or another. Many great careers have grown out of the relationship, and not surprisingly, many have worked their way into more diverse roles across the company, including supervisor and manager positions, sales, and senior management. The success of any company depends largely on its ability to recruit top talent. In an industry that is facing a skilled labor shortage, engaging in activities that foster interest in manufacturing, and supporting educational systems that develop critical skills from an early age, is vital to a long-term solution. Showing students where their education can take them and being able to demonstrate that through several generations of men and women who walked the very same path before them is priceless.
Through the Connecticut Manufacturing Collaborative (CMC), Connecticut’s Manufacturing Trade Associations and its affiliated companies put together a state-wide “wish list” of materials, supplies, and equipment that the CTECS technical high schools need to support their manufacturing programs. Hobson & Motzer, along with other CMC members, embraced this project that provided direct support of a system whose sole purpose is to prepare a workforce for our industry’s future. Hobson & Motzer worked with a partner supplier, Cheshire Tool, to help Vinal Tech secure raw materials and cutting tools. They had machines in place and wired, instructors, and capacity, but needed cutting tools and operating supplies. Together, Cheshire Tool and Hobson donated all the cutting tools and supplies Vinal needed to support their Manufacturing Technology program for a full year.
CTECS across the state are also competitive participants in the SkillsUSA Championships, showcasing some of the most talented technical education students in the country. Hobson & Motzer has supported these competitions on the state and national level through travel sponsorship, when needed at Vinal Technical High School. One Vinal student took home a national bronze medal in the CNC Milling Specialist category during the last year of the competition.
Several Hobson & Motzer team members, including Bruce Dworak and Chuck Cardillo, have donated their time to state technical schools over the years to proctor for the NIMS metalworking skills test; watching assignments and reviewing student manufactured parts in a process that allows them to gain a competitive certification in their disciplines before graduation. Cardillo emphasized how the experience helps students to grow and gives them greater exposure to experts in their industry who are performing the work they are learning to do in class: “You stress the importance of putting a little more pride into the work, from a quality perspective, subtle things that cannot be learned from a book or assignment; put a little more into it and it works out well.”
Not since our company’s founding in 1912 has there been more important time to focus efforts on the future generations of manufacturing professionals. Today’s required skill level is higher. The equipment is more sophisticated; the ability to produce ultra-precision tolerance parts and components has allowed for the many great innovations that exist in today’s world—from consumer products to aerospace and automobile safety, to highly complex medical devices that save people lives. Manufacturers are behind it all. In the past few years, focus on closing the skills gap in nearly every industry has been a priority—and will remain a perpetual goal. Being involved within your industry is always a smart bet, it and something that has always been, and will continue to be, a part of Hobson & Motzer.
Why We Do It
It’s important to us to support vocational and STEM related initiatives. Keeping the next generation engaged and motivated to excel is part of the innate blueprint at Hobson & Motzer, and hosting student visits is a natural extension of this vision.
Interested in a successful collaboration for your next precision manufacturing need? Contact us now! We’d love to find out how we can help.