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School in the summertime Featured

7:26am EDT June 30, 2003
Necessity has proven to be the mother of invention for Jergens Inc. president Jack Schron and vice president Chad Schron.

Jergens, a fixture manufacturer, needed trained workers, and a dearth of apprentice programs left it without a skilled labor pool. So the Schrons developed their own school.

"It was originally designed for our own employees," says Jack Schron, president and CEO. "We started writing the classes, only to find out that when we continued to need more classes on a broader array of things."

Jack and his son, Chad, developed an in-house training program that evolved into a spin-off company named Tooling University or Tooling U.

Most classes deal with basic and more advanced factory floor skills, including machining, reading blueprints and metal cutting, but the principles behind the classes are based on sound educational principles.

"Every single class has an outline and learning objectives ... post and pre-assessment. And if you are in the middle of a class and hit the resources in the menu, it will deliver the most recent magazine articles on the subject for you," says Schron.

The Schrons also realized their classes have benefits for employees other than those on the factory floor.

"We learned that it isn't just the factory floor employees, that businesses want trained," says Schron. "People come to use saying it would be great if their sales force could learn more."

Online learning is gaining acceptance, in part because of the convenience for nontraditional students.

"For a school to put on these classes, they need at least three to five students, but we can have a 'classroom' of one," says Schron. "Another thing we've all realized is that different students move at different paces; it's called differential learning."

Although manufacturing is the industry the Schrons are most comfortable with now, there are big plans for other skilled professions like the building industry, and even continued education for lawyers.

"I don't think our timing could have been better," Schron says. "We have 78 classes and we anticipate growing to 250 in the near future." How to reach: Tooling University: (216) 706-6800