Specialized Career Guidance, workforce development specialists focused on the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors, is beginning a new series of blog posts highlighting Opportunity Makers – those individuals and companies responding to labor market challenges by creating workplaces where entry level employees can build successful, long-term careers.
I am excited to kick off our series by introducing you to Peter Belezos, President of Bendon Gear & Machine, Inc., a company that creates precision-machine parts and assemblies on the South Shore. Peter is a long- time member of the South Shore Workforce Manufacturer Advisory Committee and has participated in various manufacturing initiatives offered by the State of Massachusetts. When he learned about the resources available to create and implement an Apprenticeship Program, Peter set out to create a successful model for his company. His goal was to build a sustainable apprenticeship model tailored to the specific needs of his manufacturing company. The model Bendon created is one of the first apprenticeships in manufacturing on the South Shore to be registered with the State of Massachusetts. Bendon works in conjunction with MassHire on the program. The company’s HR department administers the process and manages coursework training while other department heads work hands-on with the apprentices.
Peter recently gave me a tour of the facility. Bendon Gear is a highly specialized manufacturing company. The employees are highly skilled. New employees are mentored by senior employees and skill development is measured carefully at each stage of an employee’s development. As expertise grows, employees are empowered to further their knowledge and control their own career development. There is a robust system in place to support learning. Peter utilizes resources and training provided by the Workforce Trust Fund to provide additional training to employees in areas such as Lean Manufacturing, Shop Math, or Blueprint Reading.
Peter’s passion for creating pathways for career advancement at Bendon Gear informs his approach to recruiting and retaining entry level talent. Traits such as a good attitude, curiosity, and a level of drive to pursue challenges and overcome obstacles are as important to Peter as job candidates’ mechanical aptitude and background. Many employees have built long careers at Bendon Gear. Johnny, a graduate of Bristol Plymouth Vocational Technical School, has been a part of the team for 11 years. He said that opportunities in manufacturing are growing and that the work can be complex. “Not only production, but programming, reading blueprints, coding, and setting up machines and tools.” Greg, a graduate of South Shore Vocational Technical High School, has been with Bendon Gear for 22 years. When asked who he felt would be a good match for a career in manufacturing, he replied, “Someone very skilled, motivated, willing to learn and be patient”. He added the importance of having reasonable math skills, and the ability to pay attention. Greg recommended that students interested in manufacturing should study hard. He said that he enjoyed the fact that he was able to progress throughout his career, learn new skills, and “not do the same old thing every day.”
From creating semi-conductor parts for the U.S. Government, to building instruments for aircrafts and submarines, technical precision is required of every shop employee at Bendon Gear. Due to the highly technical nature of the work, I was curious about how production mistakes were handled. Peter explained that when mistakes occur, a tracking system is initiated and the cause of the issue – man, machine, method, or environment – is determined. Corrective action is taken to resolve the issue and a determination is made on how to prevent the issue in the future. Employees are involved in working through the process of addressing issues, finding solutions, and creating new systems.
I came away from my tour of Bendon Gear feeling inspired by the commitment Peter has toward building career pathways for their employees, and by the employees’ commitment to their work and to their company. I can hear the voices of many manufacturing employers asking, “So where can I find the Johnnys and Gregs of the world?” I would venture to say that there are many young people who are ready to work, and eager to feel valued and productive. However, they need guidance, skill development and an increased understanding that obtaining a job is different than building a career. Peter wants to connect with young people who need such guidance. He feels strongly that his role as President of Bendon Gear is not just to fill positions at his company but to provide employees with the support, structure, and tools they need to forge successful career paths. Through apprenticeships, resource utilization, and partnership building, Peter Belezos is invested in the success of his company, the success of his employees, and the success of a new generation of employees looking to build careers in manufacturing.