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Apprenticeship 2000 still works more than a decade later

While people continue to chant “Made in the USA” and promote manufacturing, most manufacturing companies still have difficulties finding skilled employees. Many find it tough just to get people who want to become skilled in the manufacturing trades. However, one program continues to work for manufacturers in North Carolina.

Clare Goldsberry

November 19, 2012

3 Min Read
Apprenticeship 2000 still works more than a decade later

Apprenticeship 2000, a model partnership formed in the 1990s by Blum Inc., Max Daetwyler Corp., Sarstedt Group, Ameritech Die & Mold, and Timken Bearings, was formed to train employees guaranteed to meet the skills needed by these companies. The first apprentices were hired and slated for graduation in 2000, thus the name. The goal is to close the skilled labor gap and reduce the shortage of skilled technicians. Pfaff Molds jointed the partnership in 2008, with Siemens Energy and Chiron USA joining in 2011-2012.
The program has been quite successful, and recently won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Workforce Development in the Innovative Partnership category. Governor Bev Perdue announced the award winners two weeks ago.
Ameritech Die & Mold, one of the founding partners of Apprenticeship 2000, currently has a total of 24 employees at its Mooresville, NC location, seven of whom are graduates of Apprenticeship 2000. A new apprentice just signed up this past August. Of the senior employees from that program, one has worked in engineering and design for five years, and “is an incredible talent,” Steve Rotman, president of Ameritech, told PlasticsToday. “The other is a leader in our 3D finishing area and will taking on a new 5-axis high-performance DMG along with an Erowa robot that will be able to lift 250 pounds.”
Rotman said that one of the benefits he’s received from Apprenticeship 2000 is being able to attract a cadre of young people. “We believe in youth and have developed a culture to help them achieve the highest success for their skill levels and expertise,” he commented.

Because the program starts at the high school level, students are introduced to the program early on in their career planning. “Richard (class of ’99) is in design and is 30 years old. Artie (class of ’01) in 3D is 28,” said Rotman. “Michael and Matt Tolle, both from the class of ’08, have been here since June of 2008. Matt runs our boring mill and Michael is half-time in design and half-time in final assembly, which by the way is a great place for a design-intent individual to see what works and what doesn’t and why.”
The other three from Apprenticeship 2000 that graduated this past August are: "Caleb, who does CNC machining in building mold bases; Shane operates the gun drill and any drill press work and the CNC with the same intent as Caleb,” said Rotman. “Erik is our grinding specialist, and when he isn’t working with that, he’s in the assembly bay, and he’s also mentoring the new guy that we just hired.”
Rotman admits that while it’s a “pretty young crew” they all work together quite well, and are also mentored by some of the older, more experienced moldmakers. In addition to its skilled moldmakers, Ameritech runs a good percentage of its work unattended. “Our average of unattended machining hours is approaching 20-50% of a job’s hours, depending on complexity and size,” Rotman said. “We are really excited over the opportunity for lights out manufacturing, while holding some extremely close tolerances.”
Apprenticeship 2000 has contributed a lot to Ameritech’s continued success in a tough, competitive market. Ameritech specializes in the design and build of precision, complex 3D contoured molds with undercut features up to 750 tons, and provides a full range of capabilities including micro welding, polishing, EDMing and high-speed CNC machining. Ameritech, and Ameritech Die & Mold South in Ormond Beach, FL, serve a variety of markets including automotive, consumer products, and medical among others.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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