Story shines light on how to match veterans with unfilled skilled manufacturing jobs thanks to a new reliability engineering certification program deployed at a local business
GREEN BAY, Wisc. (August 1, 2023) – A group of veterans today began the final 10-day push of The Manufacturing Leaders Project, an innovative certification program unfolding on Green Bay’s Medalcraft Mint, Inc. (MMI) floor. The company is an example of America’s (and Wisconsin’s) resurgent manufacturing sector that sorely needs veterans who are healthy, trained, supported and ready to fill positions in manufacturing. The work of the film culminating at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville demonstrates an innovative solution that prepares veterans for work that can improve productivity and effectiveness inside the nation’s manufacturing operations. The ceremony for the first graduating class of the Manufacturing Leaders Project will be held on August 10, 2023 starting at 11 am with project presentations followed by graduation at 12 pm at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in the Great Lakes Energy Education Center, room EE20. We invite the community to join us in celebrating this great achievement for veterans and the manufacturing industry.
“My brother served our nation in Afghanistan and Iraq and returned to work on the floor of Green Bay’s Medalcraft Mint; and his story is instructive for not just Wisconsin but all of America’s manufacturing companies as we seek to match veterans to good-paying, in-demand jobs that too often fail to understand veteran needs and integrate them into their operation as a natural solution,” said Bill Leahy, Founder and CEO of Renaissance Reliability LLC and both the subject and producer of the forthcoming documentary film Unturning Steel. A veteran of the U.S. Army himself, Bill Leahy has joined with Medalcraft Mint CEO Jerry Moran to develop a new offering that leverages available resources from government, academia, the military, and industry, giving veterans the support they need to find purpose in American manufacturing at no cost to them.
“At my brother’s funeral, his dear friend (and a Navy SEAL) gave us an incredible idea. ‘Call the film Unturning Steel’ because this work of helping veterans find a home in American manufacturing is so difficult. It reminded him of the radio call Navy SEALs shout on the radio prior to an assault. ‘Turning Steel,’ they say—and then breach their target with explosives. We are involved in the heavy, difficult work of helping veterans find the training and purpose to restore American manufacturing. I am grateful to the City of Green Bay for being home to such an inspirational story,” Leahy said.
The film’s production features specific training and experiences of veterans who return home seeking work in American manufacturing. Companies like Medalcraft Mint in Green Bay have innovated new solutions that bring advanced training to the shop floor to welcome veterans into their operations.
“We are here in Green Bay as the nation’s leading manufacturer of custom challenge coins, medallions, and high-quality commemorative merchandise—and we need to hire more veterans. The work we have undertaken with Bill Leahy is inspiring. We have lost Bill’s brother Sean but we’re transforming that loss into growth and it’s a story Green Bay residents should join us in celebrating,” said Jerry Moran, CEO and Owner of Medalcraft Mint on W. Mason St. in Green Bay.
The full-length documentary will likely wrap production in December 2023, and is expected to complete post-production by Spring 2024 in time for submission to leading film festivals across North America.
“We’re telling a story here that will find an audience in every American home that wants our homeland to return to being the world’s premiere skilled manufacturing hub for all major STEM disciplines,” said Michael Wood, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, director of the film, and CEO of Never Forgotten Media, bringing the story to life. “We see so many veterans return home and struggle to find purpose—and we need to match our veteran community with the high-demand for talent in American manufacturing.”
"As a manufacturing leader overseeing the operations of multiple sites, I get to see first-hand one of our industry's largest opportunities to secure qualified operative and leadership talent trained in reliability-centered practices to fill job vacancies,” said Jason Farrell, Director of Lumber Manufacturing, Weyerhaeuser Company. “Renaissance Reliability has found a pathway for matching this need with military service men and women transitioning to the private sector. The servicemembers' high level of skill can be molded through Renaissance Reliability's structured, hands-on processes and subsequently become RMIC-certified through the University of Tennessee for a seamless migration from active service to industry for the benefit of all.”
“As a veteran, I am very supportive of programs that support veterans effectively transitioning and reentering civilian life and the workforce. At Medalcraft Mint I had the pleasure of seeing such a program in action—one which included three Navy veterans and two engineering interns—all sponsored by Renaissance Reliability. It’s the only program I know that works with veterans—who understand discipline, teamwork, and achieving an objective—to help them develop the additional skills needed to the transition to a career in manufacturing,” said Ron Moore, Managing Partner, The RM Group, Inc..
“We joined this production with all the enthusiasm of our students, faculty, training partners and corporate backers because they all know American veterans can acquire the training and expertise in reliability and maintenance that will set our nation’s manufacturers apart,” said Klaus Blache, Director of the Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) at the Tickle College of Engineering at University of Tennessee.
“Having completed over 46 years in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve, I can relate to my fellow veterans transitioning back to civilian life. When not deployed, I was in paper manufacturing for 21 years. Renaissance Reliability’s mission to help veterans return to healthy civilian life and restore American manufacturing is inspiring and I fully support it,” said RADM Steven E. Day USCGR retired. “I would encourage our political officials to investigate the program led by Bill Leahy, as it can be applied beyond the manufacturing environment and into many other industries.”
“We are grateful to have been selected for this program and look forward to the final week of learning before earning our certification next week. We know that veterans hold the key for American manufacturing, and we know many talented veterans can find the purpose they crave by joining us in this exciting work,” said Martha Stamp, Petty Officer First Class, U.S. Navy and participant in the SkillBridge program from the U.S. Department of Defense.
About Unturning Steel
Unturning Steel is a documentary film from Never Forgotten Media and Renaissance Reliability LCC (R-Squared). The documentary highlights R-Squared’s program, the Manufacturing Leaders Project. Designed by veterans looking to help other veterans, the project assists former service members currently transitioning out of service and reentering American civilian society. The Department of Defense SkillBridge-approved project ensures that transitioning service members are given the resources and support they need to build a successful career in manufacturing.
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