Rowan College at Burlington County and Multi-Housing Depot
Submitted By: Kirk Fistick, Production Manager, Multi-Housing Depot
“I am in manufacturing.”
In America today, this statement about one’s chosen career path is unfortunately often met with a negative point of view. This is a false perception. While not the world leader, America is still the 2nd largest manufacturing country in the world and many industry experts project America will become the world’s largest manufacturer by 2020. The social, civic, and societal benefits that manufacturing provides are profound—for every one manufacturing job, 15 other jobs are created or sustained.
For a new generation of Americans, the manufacturing sector has become an attractive alternative to established career narratives. A worker can quickly earn a respectable income in a short amount of time without the burdensome fate of college debt. There are few reasons for this; first, manufacturing in America focuses on cutting edge technology utilizing networked systems, complex software, and specialized machinery. Next, the plant of today is not the dirty steel or tire plant of the past, but a dizzying array of computers, machinery, and highly intelligent and motivated employees. Finally, Americans are great at ingenuity, innovation and entrepreneurship. In the manufacturing sector, employees can flex these innately American strengths without the burdensome prerequisites of education or experience. Manufacturing allows employees to quickly establish technical and industry specialization, and subsequently allows for employees to seek additional education as the individual matures in responsibility.
With these opportunities in mind, Rowan College Burlington County (RCBC) developed the Advanced Manufacturing Program in 2016 with the Burlington County Institute of Technology. The program addresses the lack of fundamental technical skills in the workforce today. The 330-hour program prepares individuals for entry-level positions in the advanced manufacturing industry. The training covers blueprint reading, applied math, job layout, hand and power tools, manual milling, manual lathe, grinding, band saw and CNC lathe and mill machines. The training also provides OSHA 30 and NIMS Level 1 certifications.
Multi-Housing Depot (MHD) was an early supporter of the RCBC Advanced Manufacturing Program. MHD is a 124-year-old American family-owned business based in Burlington, NJ, that provides quality products and exceptional customer service to the multifamily industry. The manufacturing division of MHD provides high-quality cabinets, countertops, and kitchen refacing products utilizing over $9 million in state-of-the-art machinery from Germany and the United States. The manufacturing plant runs daily from 4:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. employing 70 people with plans for future expansion.
Program Graduate Spotlights
Nine of RCBC’s Advanced Manufacturing Program graduates are hard at work at MHD. Monique Mitchell was one of the first graduates that MHD hired in August 2017, and the first female graduate of the Advanced Manufacturing Program. Monique started as an edgebander machinist, which is the most highly skilled technique in the manufacturing plant. Edgebanding finishes the raw edge of material to make our cabinets and related products. Monique contributed greatly to changing the perception of women working in the manufacturing plant resulting in a threefold increase. Monique has exceptional skills and leadership that enabled her to be promoted to a customer service specialist where she is a vital link between MHD’s sales force and the manufacturing plant. Monique’s experience as a machine operator and her understanding of the manufacturing process has made her transition to a customer services specialist role much easier. This is a model MHD hopes to emulate for future office positions, and the Advanced Manufacturing Program makes such a strategy possible.
William Pepe recently graduated from the Advanced Manufacturing Program’s most recent cohort. William is a leader at Acacia Cabinetworks, Multi-Housing Depot’s Premier Manufacturing Division for the multifamily industry. Unlike Monique, William was already employed at MHD, but wanted to further his knowledge of advanced manufacturing. A part-time farmer and welder, William started at MHD as temporary employee and quickly became a permanent employee, a CNC machine operator, the machining area lead, and most recently the 2nd shift supervisor. William pursued the Advanced Manufacturing Program because he aspires to become a production manager and the program helped solidify his technical skills. In addition to his professional goals, William aspires to complete an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology at RCBC, and eventually a bachelor’s degree.
Vincent Freeman is a graduate of the third Advanced Manufacturing Program cohort. In the past, Vincent worked as aircraft maintenance engineer, a hardware store manager and as a nightclub bouncer, never really finding his niche. Vincent is a hands-on guy that likes to see how things work and realized he needed retraining for a career in the new advanced manufacturing industry. Vincent says he “appreciates that an advanced manufacturing career allows mature workers to use their ingenuity, but still stay active for maintaining a healthy life style.” Vincent is grateful for the Advanced Manufacturing Program because he could quickly learn his job and contribute to MHD’s success. Vincent now operates MHD’s $1 million Wemhoner-Presson press, which creates rigid thremofoil doors for the cabinets. Furthermore, he is learning the operation of MHD’s Komo CNC Routers. Vincent is very enthusiastic and excited for his career and the career of his Advanced Manufacturing Program classmates at MHD.
Rowan College at Burlington County is one of the fastest growing community colleges in the region and home of the 3+1 program that allows students to earn a Rowan University bachelor’s degree for less than what most universities charge for a single year. In addition to saving about $75,000 on a bachelor’s degree, students can enjoy a modernized Mount Laurel Campus that focuses on improving the student experience with a new campus quad and Student Success Center, and state-of-the-art technology. The college’s Workforce Development Institute provides job seekers and businesses with a full array of industry training programs that meet the needs of the evolving workforce. Learn more at rcbc.edu.
Multi-Housing Depot began as a family tradition 124 years ago in 1894, with deliveries being made by horse-drawn carts. We began appliance sales in 1987, opened our manufacturing facility for cabinets and related product in 1994, expanded into our Window and Door Division in 2003 and today we are continuously improving our service and manufacturing capabilities with cutting-edge technology. We have gone from one line of production for cabinets to three in an as many years with multiple shifts. Our fifth-generation company continues to build and grow through strong customer support, hard-working personnel and the family environment that is so deeply ingrained in the MHD culture. Teamed with our quality products and services, we are The Smarter Way to Multi-House.