Times Microwave Systems (TMS) in Mesa, Arizona, designs and manufactures high-performance coaxial cables, connectors, and cable assemblies used in defense, aviation, space and telecommunications. The company is known for its high-performance products that are used in demanding industrial radio frequency and microwave applications.
The TMS Mesa operations experienced rapid growth over the past three years, increasing from 30 to almost 120 employees and moving into its new 62,000 square foot manufacturing facility in 2019. Mesa is an important location for the company with several of its key customers located in the Phoenix area. Company headquarters are in Connecticut with operations in Florida, Mexico and China.
Building Skills of Team Members
TMS employs a diverse workforce including many team members from Asia for whom English as a second language (ESL). Management recognized the need to improve and strengthen team members’ English skills to allow them to better participate in team communications and training. Because TMS leadership is always looking to develop and promote team members, they wanted to provide an ESL opportunity for professional development.
Arizona MEP built a relationship with TMS before its new plant opened and understood that team member training and English as a second language were at the top of management’s priorities. With the newly expanded facility, TMS now had the space for training.
Arizona MEP started by assessing the English skills of TMS team members. Based on the findings, Arizona MEP and TMS worked together to customize beginner and advanced ESL classes at the TMS facility for 22 students. The classes met two times per week for eight weeks starting in January 2020. Each class was an hour and a half long at the end of the workday.
Company leadership and employees were enthusiastic from the start. “Our company is very supportive about developing our team members to help reach our growth potential here. Our team members cheered when the classes were announced,” said Shelley Van Dyke, Human Resources Manager at TMS in Mesa.
Language for Work and for Life
The program had positive effects that management could see on the production floor. Employees gained confidence in their language skills and accelerated their use of English. Managers reinforced this by encouraging team members to speak English with them and their teammates. Management acknowledged team members’ achievement by hosting a graduation event complete with certificates, photos, and individual congratulations from company executives. One of the most important outcomes was the employees’ gratitude to TMS for providing the opportunity and encouraging them to succeed.
“There was a lot of appreciation that the company was willing to invest in them,” said Van Dyke. “Sometimes it was hard for team members to sit in class after a long workday, but it also built a camaraderie that was really great to see. Fortunately, the ESL instructor was very engaging, getting rave reviews from the students and the managers who observed the classes,” she added.
The classes were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March but TMS has plans to offer more ESL classes when pandemic restrictions ease. ESL classes are also planned for TMS’ Florida operations.
Arizona MEP Made the Difference
Before ESL classes were planned, Arizona MEP and Arizona Commerce Authority were instrumental in working with TMS to invite local officials and business leaders who helped put a spotlight on the ribbon-cutting event for the new facility.
When TMS was ready for training, Arizona MEP responded by providing top-notch corporate training that was specific for their client’s needs. Arizona MEP continued to stay involved throughout the project including attending the graduation event to congratulate the team members. Arizona MEP is looking forward to a continued partnership with TMS to meet its ongoing training needs.