Vienna is home to the largest manufacturer of cold-formed steel in North America.
ClarkDietrich, a new member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, is that manufacturer.
It has three locations within 10 minutes of each other, the largest situated on Ridge Road in Vienna Township, with 150 employees.
The other two locations are in Warren: Warren East on North River Road with 85 employees and CDH on Phoenix Road with 10 employees.
Nationwide, there are 1,500 employees in 14 plants.
ClarkDietrich’s Vienna location is also the largest in the company, Tina Parker, senior human resources business partner, said.
It is about 350,000 square feet and houses 35 roll forming machines, a machine shop and maintenance team with electricians and machinists who keep the equipment operating.
A shipping department organizes all of the logistics of the steel onto trucks, Parker said.
When employees walk through the entrance at the Vienna location, they are instantly reminded of best safety practices.
A bright dojo was recently added to the training process.
Dojos are designated spaces for immersive learning.
“Our parent company (CWBS-MISA Inc.) wanted us to spearhead this type of interactive safety exhibit to show new hires the right way” to lift and use different machines, Parker said.
Getting to work
Leading the dojo project were plant supervisor Chris Plant and Alex Hertzer, plant superintendent.
Hertzer connected various departments for the “very interactive, very bright” learning space, Parker said.
The concept, Hertzer said, is “overstimulation” from a safety standpoint. That’s why it’s bright with green floors and bright lighting, and hands-on.
“It was a really great effort by the team – supervisors, operators, maintenance. It was fun to see it all come together,” Parker said.
How it works
The dojo gives new employees — some of whom may never have worked in a hands-on, manufacturing discipline — a first glimpse at manufacturing, making the industry less intimidating.
“It shows someone who is maybe a spatial learner rather than a textbook learner,” Hertzer said.
A mannequin wearing personal protective equipment greets employees, who then move down the hallway, which is divided into sections.
“It’s nice because they’re not practicing on necessarily real machinery” that could be dangerous, Parker said.
Miniature cranes and tow motors are part of the experience. Employees also learn the correct way to lift heavy objects.
Another dojo on the way
During pre-shift meetings, many employees will take time to stretch to limber up for the constant bending and stooping they’ll do throughout their day, Parker said.
“Stretching before they start their shifts really helps. We really encourage them to participate in the pre-shift meetings, the stretching activities in particular,” Parker said.
Next, another dojo is in its infancy stages, but it will focus on another aspect, Hertzer said.
An operations/productions dojo will be added to the plant in the near future.
It will show how to gauge tooling, and “other simple concepts” that aren’t necessarily second nature to a new employee jumping into the industry, he said.
ClarkDietrich is a newer member of MVMC.