Maysteel University – Developing Fabrication Talent from Within

Maysteel University – Developing Fabrication Talent from Within

It’s no secret that it’s a tough job market as manufacturers struggle to attract and retain talent. One of the ways Maysteel’s team addressed this challenge is by developing in-house fabrication talent with Maysteel University.

Maysteel University, or “Maysteel U” as team members refer to it, was not only in response to the current hiring climate but also from Maysteel’s dedication to investing in our team members and providing internal opportunities for growth.

Maysteel’s success is made possible by the hard work of knowledgeable, experienced team members. Putting time and budget behind developing their skills isn’t just solving a current market challenge. It’s helping to build a deep bench of talented team members at Maysteel — something that’s just as (if not more) important than investing in modern manufacturing equipment. It’s an approach that can help employees and Maysteel continue to be leaders in modern manufacturing.

Maysteel’s Dedication to its Team

Maysteel is dedicated to creating opportunities and options for its team members to grow from within through mechanisms like cross-training. There are many stories within Maysteel walls of people who have started their careers on the shop floor and moved to growth positions.

One such story is from Maysteel’s Wisconsin Headquarters. Kelly Kerr has been at Maysteel for over 20 years and began her career in assembly on the second shift. She moved from assembly to line coordinator to inventory control and is now a production planner. 

In her own words, Kelly shared that “Maysteel was the best accident that has happened to me. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t supposed to interview and tagged along for a hiring event. They invited me to an interview that day and hired me on the spot, and the rest is history. Over the past two decades, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn new areas, from assembly to line coordinator to inventory control and now I’m a production planner.

“Our team leaders recognized my strengths and helped me find where I fit best. I’m really happy now as a production planner because everybody works hard, has a lot of fun and I don’t have to sit behind a computer all day.”

Maysteel U is the formalized approach to this methodology and builds off successes like Kelly’s.

Creating Maysteel U

Maysteel U kicked off in 2022 with Weld Operator training. The first two sessions were led by a local Wisconsin teacher, Aaron Pokrzywa. Aaron worked with the Maysteel team on the curriculum for the training and what  team members should take away from it. 

It had to be a meaningful education experience that would truly serve the needs of Maysteel’s employees. What’s more, we needed to be sure the curriculum would be specific enough to Maysteel’s approach to manufacturing while still being applicable to the industry as a whole. Including our team members in the creation of Maysteel U from the start helped ensure we met these goals.

Maysteel employees attended these sessions as a “train the trainer” approach to bringing the teaching in-house. Nate Sanden, one of Maysteel’s Manufacturing Engineers, and Jim Koepsell, one of Maysteel’s Quality Engineers, took the information from Aaron and are now into their second sessions of training Maysteel U students. 

About Maysteel U

Maysteel U is open to all employees interested in becoming a GSO (General Service Operator) level welder. The weld operator course is completed during work hours and is conducted over three weeks. It includes learning modules, hands-on learning and Maysteel’s welding certification test. So far, seven team members have completed Maysteel U, and an additional three are currently in the process of taking the course. 

Here’s is what Maysteel U Graduates have to say about it:

“I started at Maysteel in assembly and moved to a press brake operator. I saw the announcement about Maysteel U and joined the very first session. Once I started welding, I loved it. It’s awesome to see the progress from starting Maysteel to now. The team is supportive, and anytime I have a question, everyone at Maysteel is here to help!” - Hector   

“I was looking for a job with an opportunity for advancement and found Maysteel. I like learning new things every day and Maysteel was not just a job; it was a chance to have a career.

 I heard about Maysteel U from a teammate, and it was a great opportunity to open another career door. Most classes and training are theory, but this was also hands-on practice, and the instructors prepare us for taking what we’ve learned in Maysteel U to the

 shop floor.” - ToddMaysteel University - Todd

Expanding Maysteel U

Having a strong team of dedicated, enthusiastic employees has helped push Maysteel to the forefront of our industry, but it didn’t happen by luck. We’ve always made a point of showing our team members that they are valued, and supported in their growth. Expanding Maysteel U is a logical next step.  

“As we continue to grow as a company, we will continue to nurture internal opportunities for growth for our team members. This is one way that we not only retain our dedicated talent, but also attract new talent as well. Said Kevin Matkin, Maysteel’s CEO. "We want our team members to look at Maysteel as not just a job, but a career opportunity.” 

Not only is Maysteel planning on continuing Maysteel U Weld Operator Training, but we are also looking at other fabrication specialties such as Powder Coat Painter courses to expand our offerings. Investing in the future of the company means investing in our employees now — something we’ve been successful at doing for decades.

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