A major West Virginia manufacturer found a solution to its workforce needs through a national apprenticeship initiative at the RCBI.
Weyerhaeuser, a leading U.S. manufacturer of wood products, launched an apprenticeship program for industrial maintenance mechanics at its Sutton facility through RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works program.
Prior to starting the apprenticeship program, Weyerhaeuser struggled to find people to fill maintenance positions, which are critical to the operation, said Brandy Rollyson, human resources manager.
“We tried to find innovative ways to train from within,” she said. “We developed a small in-house program, but it wasn’t meeting the mark. Then we were lucky enough to work with RCBI and develop the apprenticeship program with six of our employees.”
The first four Weyerhaeuser employees to complete the registered apprenticeship program are John Isabell of Summersville, Jeremiah Lawson of Birch River, Jacob McLaughlin of Sutton and Billy Phillips of Sutton. They finished the training in November.
The Sutton operation opened in 1996 and now employs nearly 170 people. The mill produces Oriented Strand Board (OSB) used in residential and commercial construction.
Rollyson said the apprenticeships offered by Apprenticeship Works are effective for Weyerhaeuser because they can be customized for different operations. Several other Weyerhaeuser facilities also partner on apprenticeship programs with RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works, including one in Buckhannon, W.Va., two in North Carolina and one in Michigan.
“We are pleased that Weyerhaeuser recognizes the value of a registered apprenticeship program,” said Lucinda Curry, director of Apprenticeship Works. “They benefit the companies and the employees, as well.”
Apprenticeship Works is supported by an American Apprenticeship Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.