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October 2016

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Business Relationship Boosts Successful Machinist Training Program

The OptiPro Systems banner hangs above equipment in the G.W. Lisk Co. machinist training shop in Clifton Springs, NY.

The Nakamura-Tome AS-200L lathe provided by OptiPro Systems for the Finger Lakes Community College-G.W. Lisk Co. advanced manufacturing machinist training program.

Don Miller, left, Technical Sales Engineer for OptiPro Systems, shakes hands with Scott Cummings, Director of Machining at G.W. Lisk Co. in Clifton Springs, NY.

Don Miller, left, Technical Sales Engineer for OptiPro Systems, and Scott Cummings, Director of Machining at G.W. Lisk Co., right, review the functions of the Nakamura-Tome lathe with Dave Phillips, G.W. Lisk Training Manager, in the G.W. Lisk Co. training shop in Clifton Springs, NY.

OptiPro Systems, a machine tool manufacturer and distributor, has provided a computer-controlled Nakamura-Tome lathe for use in the Finger Lakes Community College-G.W. Lisk Co. advanced manufacturing machinist training program.

The machine, valued at more than $200,000, helps to ensure that students will learn how to use the most up-to-date equipment.

"It is tough to buy a machine just for training," said Dave Phillips, G.W. Lisk's Training Manager. "Modern machine tools are so sophisticated and expensive that taking them out of production for training can be cost-prohibitive. The Nakamura-Tome lathe means more hands-on time on the machines for our students."

Don Miller, Technical Sales Engineer for OptiPro, said, "I understand the value of the training program and its needs. We have to be partners in this if we want to have well-trained workers. Everyone has to be a winner."

"The partnership Miller arranged between OptiPro and G.W. Lisk is an example of increasing cooperation within the advanced manufacturing sector as it strategizes for the coming retirement of the baby boomer generation," said a spokesperson.

Scott Cummings, Director of Machining at G.W. Lisk, said, "About 20% of the company's workforce will reach retirement age in the next five years. It is an added challenge for an industry that is already having trouble finding skilled workers."

Advanced manufacturing, characterized by computerized equipment, climate-controlled workspaces and the design and production of precision components, has quietly grown in the background. G.W. Lisk has added more than 100 employees in the last seven years. OptiPro has added 50 employees during the same period, doubling its workforce.

"Political talk about the decline of manufacturing is usually a reference to `rust-belt' assembly line production," said a spokesperson. "Advanced manufacturing has become too high-tech for people with no experience to learn on the job, and employers cannot afford errors that damage pricey equipment," said the spokesperson. "G.W. Lisk's leaders realized several years ago that they needed to do more to ensure a steady supply of skilled workers."

G.W. Lisk reached out to Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY, in 2009 for help in establishing a formal, six-month training program. FLCC worked with G.W. Lisk to identify the knowledge and skills entry-level workers needed, everything from technical math to shop safety to soft skills, which include the ability to meet deadlines and work as a team. FLCC focuses on outreach and administration of the program while Phillips handles the hands-on training.

"Community colleges cannot afford to buy all the high-tech equipment needed to train people for today's advanced manufacturing environment, and manufacturers don't have experience in setting up and operating formal education programs," said Marcy Lynch, Director of Workforce Development for FLCC.

"The first class launched in 2010, and all the students had a job offer before graduation in March 2011. Succeeding classes have all had job offers prior to graduation as well," said an FLCC spokesperson.

"The challenge to provide students with the most realistic work environment remains. Miller, whose company does business regularly with G.W. Lisk, wants students to experience more than the lathe," said an OptiPro spokesperson. "OptiPro is all about good, honest, solid business relationships. It is good for students to see the level of cooperation in this industry."

The six-month advanced manufacturing machinist training program at G.W. Lisk Co. runs September to March every year. Class sizes are small to ensure plenty of supervised hands-on instruction. In another example of industry cooperation, G.W. Lisk has shared the curriculum with ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls, which runs a training program in cooperation with FLCC from March to September.

For more information contact:

OptiPro Systems

6368 Dean Parkway

Ontario, NY 14519


Andrea Badger

Finger Lakes Community College

3325 Marvin Sands Drive

Canandaigua, NY 14424


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