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Mining for Gold in a World of Low Unemployment

As I am sure you have heard before, manufacturers are going to have an estimated 2.2M job openings in the next decade. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. 

This year, I have my whole leadership team focused on our succession plan. The company is growing and experiencing retirements all at once. Here are a few out of the box ways we have found to identify and train talent.

Look in Different Places

When Senator Laughlin visited the plant, he alerted me to the fact that our local Barber National Institute had a program for placing adults with autism, intellectual disabilities and behavioral health challenges in local companies. The Barber Institute’s mission is to provide the support, training and resources necessary for their charges to be self-reliant, independent and valued members of their community. At the time, we were in desperate need of someone to help us with housekeeping chores in the plant. Today, the plant is as clean as I have ever seen it. We now have two valuable team members and one is already learning additional skills in our packaging and shipping department.

Find and Train

Pennsylvania Career Link is a part of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s initiative to transform the landscape of how job seekers find family sustaining jobs and how employers find the skilled candidates they need. The service has a job matching system in addition to training opportunities. We are going to use their services to upskill our production workforce by cross training the entire department. We are also looking to expand our combustion services by providing on the job training to new hires. In addition, we will look to hire from their group of 18-24 year old adults that need an opportunity to build skills for their resumes and explore different careers.


After we have done all the hard work of finding new team members, we certainly want to make sure they remain a part of the Onex family. It is important that we are able to continue training and developing personnel. We think of it as mining for gold. Andrew Carnegie once said,

“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for gold.”

So, we use the services of the Northwest Industrial Resource Center to provide training that is specifically tailored to our needs. This year our leadership team is learning a coach approach to managing and developing our talented team members. The whole company is learning Lean skills to help us solve problems quickly and become more efficient in our operations.

There are a lot of different ways to find, train and retain talent. You just have to be open minded as they are likely different approaches than you have taken in the past. I don’t know about you but posting jobs online has not resulted in a lot of job applicants. With unemployment rates so low and baby boomers retiring daily, we have to find new ways to mine for gold.

How are you developing succession plans?

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