Toll Brothers, a luxury home builder, is not only building component parts in their Emporia production facility but also building and investing in their employees. For Toll Brothers, the investment in people is a priority, and one way they chose to build people is through the Apprenticeship model of training. Toll Brothers’ Chris Johnson, Plant Manager, partnered with Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) apprenticeship coordinator, Kelly Arnold, to implement the apprenticeship program for training machine operators with the end goal of helping them become Industrial Maintenance Technicians.
The college’s proposal to Toll Brothers was simple; begin educational training one night a week for one year and couple that with 2000 hours (1 year) of on the job training. Although a slow and steady process, this proved to be a doable training model for employees who work 40+ hours per week and have family commitments.
Conveniently, SVCC’s Southside Virginia Education Center location in Greensville County was outfitted with electrical training equipment, and six eager employees became college students. As the need grew for training, Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Studies, and Erica Andrews, SVCC’s site coordinator, helped bring the training lab to life.
The Toll apprentices embraced the educational task with gusto and worked hard to learn. For some this was the first time taking a college level class. The students were determined to finish the three classes, complete the on-the-job component, and earn the Department of Labor credential for Machine Operator.
These students finished their goal and learned what they needed to learn. Their accomplishments were recognized on Wednesday night, July 18, at the company’s award dinner. Johnson and Maynard Stowe, DOL apprenticeship representative, presented their certificates with family and friends cheering for them.
In Johnson’s opening remarks, he stated, “We have tried many training programs, but the apprenticeship program, by far, has been the most successful for our facility.”
Each apprentice logged the hours, studied, and worked hard, but the simple plan is producing results; results that make a difference to them individually and results that are making a difference at Toll Brothers. While each earned their certificate for machine operator, they immediately turned around and registered to begin the same simple process to earn their Industrial Maintenance Technician apprenticeship certifications.
Starting in the fall semester at SVCC, the Toll students will walk into a newly outfitted Industrial Maintenance lab. This new lab is a partnership between CCAM in Richmond, SVCC, and a grant from Go Virginia along with Greensville County and the city of Emporia. State of the art trainers now occupy two rooms with wall to wall equipment all ready for students to roll up their sleeves and learn electrical, mechanical, pneumatics and hydraulics, the core of mechatronics training.
For Toll Brothers, let the building of luxury homes continue, but most importantly, for the people of Southside Virginia, let the building up of people be the cornerstone of what drives our community. If you are interested in learning more about the lab in Emporia or Apprenticeship, contact Erica Andrews at 434-634-9358 firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly Arnold at Kelly.email@example.com 434-579-7260.