Past Winners in Workforce

2016 Innovation in Human capital & Talent Winner

Address: 4111 Buchanan Ave

Newport Cottages is a minority-owned family run business that specializes in creating fine crafted baby and children’s furniture.  The company’s products are high-end; each piece is individually made using “old world word working techniques,” and then personalized with customer hand rubbed finishes.  The company has 25 employees and is located in Riverside, CA.

Newport Cottages was experiencing an increased interest in their products, but was having difficulty meeting current demand.  Workflow issues were cited across all departments due to unorganized processes and a lack of a strong infrastructure.  The company would not be able to increase sales from new orders unless they could manage the current demand and retain their key customers.

Newport Cottages partnered with the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board to promote and facilitate a Lean Manufacturing Transformation Rollout Program.  That program completed earlier this year (2016) with great success!

Multiple kaizen events took place.  Several large pieces of equipment were reorganized, two large 38’ dumpsters were filled and removed from the shop – freeing up floor space and provided a sensible flow for production.  Value Stream Mapping techniques were used to create a new blueprint for the company’s transformation and it prioritized activities required to improve their workflow and workforce involvement. This blueprint for the company’s transformation has attributed to the following:

  • 6 new jobs in Riverside County were added / Job creation / Workforce Development
  • Retention of 12 at-risk jobs in Riverside County / Job retention / Workforce Development
  • $400K in new sales
  • $1M in retained sales
  • $250K in cost savings
  • $115K in capital investments

Thank you for considering Newport Cottages for Workforce Development Category.  We could not have done this without the Riverside Workforce Development Board’s assistance.

2014 Winner: Fresh and Easy for Innovation in Employment.

  • Celestica Ontario provides electronics repair services for various companies.  We are working very closely with our engineering team to identify the correct talent.  We are also providing them special training and certification in the electronics to not only meet the customer requirement but to also prepare a more skilled workforce.  In an effort to protect our newly hired workforce and prevent reduction, we are utilizing them in our existing business to support other screening operations.  This allows us the flexibility to meet increased demands in our other business areas until we reach a higher production level with the repair project.  We are utilizing creative scheduling techniques to align our business needs and maintain a steady workforce level.  Part of this flexibility has been lean hiring methods, which allows us to hire just in time so we are not over hiring and then forced to reduce.  We are happy with this two prong approach but we are always looking at new ways to better manage our workforce.
  • Parrten Products has a successful in-house “workforce development” effort that attracts local students who want and need a job, but never thought about manufacturing as a career.  Over the years, Parrten Products has employed many local high school students who have a desire to learn but otherwise possess no trade or technical skills that would make them eligible candidates.  Our in-house “workforce development” program offers them a start — an entry level position, usually in shipping & receiving, where they can gain work experience, receive training (both on-site and off-site: i.e. certified forklift classes), and overall self confidence.  Our program also provides Parrten Products with a reliable source of knowledgeable workers, so we can continue to promote from within.  We are proud to say that we have one such student who was recently recognized for his 28th anniversary with our company.  He started as a general laborer and is now our Quality Control & Assurance Manager.
  • Precision Hermetic Technology, located in Redlands, manufactures high reliability electrical connectors for the military and aerospace industries.  The intricately machined parts range in size from the head of a match stick to a couple of inches in diameter.  Recently the company has become aware of the services and financial incentives from San BernardinoCounty’s Workforce Development Department.

When Precision Hermetic needed to hire new employees, it reached out to the County Workforce Development Department to advertise his new job openings.  Once they identified a few good candidates, they were able to take advantage of the on-the-job training funds the department has available through the Workforce Investment Act.   These funds allowed Precision Hermetic to receive a 50% reimbursement of the new employees’ wages for three months while the new employees were trained in these manufacturing positions.   President Daniel Schachtel said, “The County has been a great resource for us, not only by helping reduce the financial impact of training new employees, but also helping us identify a pool of qualified individuals to choose from.  The best way for the County to reduce unemployment is by assisting in the creation of manufacturing jobs, and they are very focused on this task.”

2013 Winner: California Steel, Inc.

  • Addressed growing need for Maintenance Electricians by piloting paid internship program in collaboration with Chaffey College.
  • “Win-Win” because most Electrical Technology students lack work experience, making them unsuitable to fill the growing number of vacancies in the community caused by the “graying of the workforce”.
  • Students were paid $20.83/hour and received substantial benefits; OJT funding from San Bernardino County WIB received to offset costs
  • Interns attended class eight hours a day; three days per week and obtain “on the job training” the remaining two days per week.
  • At end of nine week program, interns were tested.
  • Outcome: 11 students selected for training; 100% completed program; 100% hired full time
  • Identified potential workforce: Chaffey electrical students
  • Recruited needed workforce: 11 entered and completed nine week program
  • Prepared/train workforce: Classroom training and on the job training occurred

2012 Winner: Safariland, a subsidiary of BAE Systems, designs and manufactures the most recognized and most trusted law enforcement and security products in the world.  Our product offerings include body armor, duty gear (holsters, belts, pouches), protective products (batons, handcuffs, gloves), and less lethal products.  Our Ontario facility is a design and testing center for body armor and duty gear as well as a manufacturing center for duty gear products, handcuffs, and body armor alterations.  We are also a tier-1 automotive supplier of various molded plastic and cut-and-sew products.   We have many unique programs to recruit, train, promote, and retain our valued workforce.

Identify potential workforce:  We start with a philosophy that our best candidates come from within.  We have a structured talent “map” process that helps the Company identify employees who are high-potential, which is integrated into our succession planning process.   In addition, all open positions are posted for internal application (across all five Safariland sites) before we begin any external search.   We have implemented behavioral-based interviewing with a focus on interviewing for attitude and potential – not simply for technical skills.   In addition to the behavioral interview, we have begun using skill-based tests for certain positions to provide a fair evaluation of technical or administrative skills. For leadership positions, we include team-based interviews and require final candidates to prepare and deliver a presentation on a topic relevant to the department and our business followed by a Q&A session.  This allows us to see how potential leaders interact with others and how they think and communicate under pressure.

Recruit the needed workforce:  Our focus has been less on recruiting and more on training and retention of talent.   Our primary and best source of new employees is employee referral.   We incentivize employees to refer qualified candidates for all open positions.


Prepare/train the workforce:  For new employees we have a formal on-boarding process which includes the traditional day-1 orientation with the assignment of a department “buddy” and formal 30, 60, and 90-day follow-up reviews with HR.   We have developed and implemented several training programs designed to improve the skills and abilities of employees at all levels.   All training is integrated into our ISO 9000 Quality Management System..   This includes ESL training for our Spanish-speaking employees as well as 5-S, Kaizen, and safety training for all production employees.   This serves as the baseline for all of our continuous improvement efforts.   We have implemented “SafarilandUniversity” – a series of lunch-and-learn topics for supervisors and a front-line-leadership training for new leads to help them in the transition from peer to team leader.   Individual departments provide ‘on-the-job’ training for current and new employees.   We also recently secured ETP funds to deliver supervisor and manager training through ChaffeyCollege.   We plan to expand this to also include lean/six-sigma training later this year.

Reduce workforce turnover:  In addition to the training and development opportunities mentioned above, we have designed and implemented several employee programs aimed at increasing employee engagement and reducing turnover.

  • Safariland Saves Program – Our Company mission is “Together, We Save Lives”.   We have signs prominently posted in several locations throughout our sites and we stop to celebrate every time we receive notice that our product has saved an officer’s life.   We stop work, ring a bell, and update the number of “saves” on the board (currently 1,788).   We also invite officers into our facilities to share their stories and allow them to thank our employees directly.
  • Town Hall Meeting – a quarterly presentation of business results and important topics for supervisors and above
  • Quarterly Site Meeting – in-person meeting at each site for all employees to share key business and local site updates
  • Quarterly Site Round-Table Meeting– random selection of employees at all levels meet (in-person or via video conference) with members of our executive team, including our President
  • Values-in-Action recognition program – allows employees at all levels to recognize employees for demonstrating one or more of our values
  • Service Awards – A program to recognize  the value of long term employees.  At key milestones (5, 10, 15 years, etc.) employees are recognized at the Quarterly Site Meeting  and given a length of service gift .

Resist workforce reduction: Safariland has focused on cross-training opportunities to increase the flexibility of our workforce.   We have used the State’s workshare program in extreme situations and have also been looking at “in-sourcing” work as well as shifting where we manufacture certain products to maximize our internal capability.