By Sue Moore
“What do you do here?” is what Director of Innovation Matt McCullough asks Schoolcraft businesses when he walks in the door. Not that he’s an inspector of some sort; he works for the Schoolcraft school system with a plan to have students and business owners get to know each other.
He follows up by asking business owners what problems they face. If the answer fits one of the high school’s classroom study areas, he’ll suggest a match-up. That lesson will focus on student based learning within the prescribed state education standards and the businesses’ needs.
It has spawned some insightful and interesting relationships such as one he started between the high school and Concept Molds on U.S. 131. He involved the high school second-year business class taught by Lori Pelton and a ninth-grade physical science class taught by Donya Dobbin.
The company’s need was identified: how to recruit younger employees, perfect for a class of soon-to-be graduates who divided into two teams to come up with recommendations. They met with Mike Rochholz, the business’s liaison for this injection molding company, in early November.
The first suggestion was no surprise: Young people don’t read newspapers! So, they suggested advertising on social media, using videos, web sites, static media and Twitter to promote. Facebook is cheap but falling out of style and Linkedin is antiquated, they said. Know your target demographic was the message that the teenagers drilled home. And another conclusion: Keep your word.
The team suggested that recruits would be attracted to a livable wage, good benefits, job stability, open to advances, scholarship help and interestingly “don’t be stuck in the same job every day.” A suggestion box was their idea to keep employees involved. They wanted a connection to management that includes decision-making and having a stake in the company’s effort to succeed.
They recommended group interviews to determine competitiveness. For branding, they mentioned that Concept Molds should upgrade its signage – which actually happened just days before the students made their report. They thought the grass along the building on U.S. 131 was high and needed mowing. The students didn’t know what injection molding means. “What happens in here?” one student asked. “I’ve driven by for years and didn’t know what it was.”
Rochholz took all of these comments to heart, said they were helpful, then took the students on a tour of the facility that employs about 25 people. Concept Molds supplies the automotive industry and medical manufacturers with products such as molds for hospital components that require lots of little disposables. “We have room for growth but want to be careful how we grow as we plan for sustainability,” Rochholz said.