ChemResearch Corporation, located in Phoenix, is a top metal finisher for the aerospace, defense, medical, semiconductor/electronics, space, and heavy equipment industries. The company’s customers range from regional and national machine shops to OEMs such as Boeing, Honeywell, Rolls Royce, Space X, and many more. Over its 65-year history, the company has invested in facility upgrades, AS9100 and NADCAP certifications, quality management systems and its employees. Its services have expanded to include abrasive and non-abrasive blasting, light assembly, prototype finishing, and testing capabilities to ensure compliance with specifications.


Investing in Employees

The company has about 80 employees with an average tenure of 10 to 15 years. In this tight labor market, the company has been developing additional benefits to help retain employees, especially those in entry-level positions. “You have to engage them at the start of employment and continue to remind them, not only about the 401K benefit but about the entire benefits package, including medical and auxiliary plans” said Tony Bouie, ChemResearch’s HR Business Partner. “Training is part of this package. It’s an investment in our employees to help develop additional skills and advance their careers.” To this end, ChemResearch embarked on the development of a 12-month training program focused on building the skills and improving business processes.


New 12-month Training Program Launches

With Arizona MEP's help, ChemResearch applied for and was awarded a grant through the Incumbent Worker Training Program offered by Arizona at Work and the City of Phoenix. The grant provides financial assistance for training programs focused on developing the competitive skill set of existing employees. “Arizona MEP was a big help during the grant application process and helped us create a well-rounded training program that exceeded our expectations,” said Tony. Using Arizona MEP’s experts in lean manufacturing, organizational development, and business operations, ChemResearch was able to offer different training options to their employees.


“Our work with ChemResearch is a great example of how we work with our clients,” said Rodney Nelson, Senior Client Advisor at Arizona MEP. “We work with manufacturers to identify their needs and business goals and match the right resources and services to meet these goals. Our work goes beyond the assessment and recommendation. We help our clients implement the solutions. We’re here to help them." 


Building Skills and Reputation

The training program has paid huge dividends for the company. Employees that took the Excel, customer service, and sales training received foundational skills they can apply in their current position and future roles. The lean manufacturing training classes applied the concepts using hands-on activities that had immediate results for the employees and the company.


“The lean manufacturing training has produced some of the best results for us,” said Tony. “During the workshop, the team concentrated on one operational area, applying lean principles to reorganize, clean, document and streamline the processes. Now, when potential customers tour our facility, they remark that it’s one of the most well-organized facilities they have toured, which helps build confidence in ChemResearch.”


Reinforcing Company Policy

Training was also conducted to reinforce HR best practices and policies. Arizona MEP’s HR expert led a supervisor training class that provided a solid framework for effective communication, conflict resolution, employee evaluations, and legal compliance. “The supervisor training was beneficial for us,” Tony remarked. “After the training, I saw a difference in how managers were giving feedback to employees.”  


Nationally Certified Aerospace Program

In addition to the training offered by Arizona MEP, ChemResearch enrolled two employees in the Airline and Aerospace Finishing course offered by the National Association of Surface Finishing. The self-paced course provides foundational learning on metal-related finishing operations for the aerospace industry. ChemResearch offered this course to employees who had demonstrated proficiency in their current work and a desire for additional opportunities at the company.


Training Program Continues

The future of the training program looks bright for ChemResearch employees. It's no doubt that the grant helped jump-start ChemResearch’s training program, but the company has seen the positive effects and remains committed to the program. Arizona MEP’s support and manufacturing experts were integral in launching the program. “Arizona MEP services and training material put us on a good trajectory to continue the training even after the grant money is exhausted,” said Tony. “Next year, we’ll choose an area of concentration to get the most from the budget we have.”