Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program graduating class of 2014

By Cynthia Grau/Daily Leader
Staff Reporter
April 12, 2014

Fourteen students made it through their program and graduated Friday afternoon and are now looking forward to life in the working world.


The second class of the Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing, a workforce training program offered by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, walked through commencement ceremonies Friday afternoon at the Livingston County Historic Courthouse.

The students completed 100 hours of instruction led by Heartland Community College faculty at the Pontiac Caterpillar facility with lab instruction at HCC, Normal. Graduates included Maria Blair, Christopher Close, Kurt Keefer, David Mabe, Cindy Pozdol, Sheri Thurston, Kasey Branscum, Joyce Colwell, Kay Grizzle, Danielle Lang, Mitchell Nelson, Kevin Raifsnider and Travis Williams.

After completing the course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. Based on past results, placement rates are anticipated to exceed 90 percent. Participating businesses include Anthony Liftgates, Caterpillar, Exact Packaging, Hoffman Tool, Interlake Mecalux, Grundy-Kankakee-Livingston 1Workforce Investment Board, Quanex1, 1Kerry Group, Manpower1, RKO Saw and Tool1, Selig Sealants, Johnson Press of America, PTC Alliance, Slagel Manufacturing and Technical Metals.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the GLCEDC, greeted graduates and attendees.

“These 14 students are better equipped to either become employed or further their career in manufacturing,” Dontz said.

He added that the program currently has a 100 percent graduation rate and a 92 percent job placement rate, resulting from the first graduating class nine months ago.

“The intent of this program is three-fold. First, we sought to increase the skills and abilities of our local workforce,” Dontz explained. “By doing so, this program has already assisted those who are unemployed gain employment.”

Second, he said, they aim to add value to the single largest employment sector in Livingston County, which is manufacturing. Third of all, the successful completion of the program sends a message to businesses looking to make an investment into Livingston County.

“This is truly a public/private sector partnership,” Dontz said.

Dontz introduced Rob Widmer, president of Heartland Community College, who congratulated graduates on what he called “quite an achievement.”

“It’s a testament to your commitment to your perseverance and I’m sure quite a bit of sacrifice in the process,” Widmer said. “These are the hours you would have been with your family, hours you would have been driving to secure other employment, but this certainly is a testament to your efforts.”

Susan Toher, operations manager for Caterpillar, Inc., gave the day’s commencement address and spoke about the path she took to get to the job she serves currently.

“Sometimes you just have to try something that feels a little uncomfortable and assume that that step is going to lead to another and lead to another step,” Toher said.

She continued, saying her career wasn’t like a ladder, but more of a meandering path, which has worked out for her.

“I hope you take choices and risks and adventures, so you can find your own path,” Toher said.