Jan. 3, 2022

Adrienne Selko

The 6,000-person company hired 2,000 people last year at a time when many manufacturers struggle to fill their workforces.

Is a family-owned company, now run by the fifth generation, one that would attract employees?

Well, it seems the answer to this question is yes, as CoorsTek, founded in 1910 by Adolph Coors, was able to hire 2,000 new employees last year and is looking to hire that many more this year. And for a company, which manufactures technical ceramics for a wide range of industries, that has 6,000 employees, it’s no small feat.

Attracting that many employees, in a very tight labor market is unusual, but the company believes that its culture is the reason for its success. “As a family company, we have always looked out for the whole person,” explains Chief People & Systems Officer Irma Lockridge, “and this has been a differentiator when we approach potential employees.”

To ensure continued success, the company introduced CoorsTek Academy. After two years of development, the company decided its headquarter location in Golden, Colorado, was an ideal location to train future and current employees as its primary factories area in the area.

“The academy was designed to be a world-class training center that drives growth, engagement and excellence in our manufacturing environment globally,” says Lockridge. And to drive this excellence, the Academy focuses on new hires as well as reskilling current team members. “We want to optimize the productivity of our new talent, advance skill development that increases productivity, ensures a safety culture, promotes a quality mindset in all we do to ensure an environment of continuous learning and growth.”

The most important aspect of new hire training, which is done over a two-week period in a dedicated building, is sharing the company’s culture. “In the training, we cover everything a new team member needs to know about the company beyond the job they will be doing but how they fit in, can impact our success and how they can grow with us for the long term,” explains Lockridge. “We want them to view the opportunity as not just a job but a long-term career.”

One way to build a long-term career is to make sure that the new hire is in a job that best fits both their skills and what they want to contribute. Emphasis is on soft skills and technical aptitude and pairing that with a job that matches the employee’s talents and the company’s culture.

The company has an interview team and a resource manager that helps with placement based on skills and business needs. Candidates are introduced to a variety of career paths and then are placed in a job that best matches their interests. And the process doesn’t end there. “We established dedicated trainers and ambassadors that help them through the learning process and ensure their success,” explains Lockridge.

As to how the company finds potential employees, CooksTek uses a number of strategies:

CoorsTek has hosted several open houses with local high schools, trade schools and universities. In these open houses, we give a tour, discuss careers with CoorsTek and have a Q&A session with alum for the schools. CoorsTek partners with Denver Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships to high school students. Partnered with DSF to host a resume writing workshop for high school students.

Annually CoorsTek sponsors and judges science fair projects for students interested in STEM careers.

The other mission of the Academy is to reskill current team members. With the increase of automation, new skills are necessary. “For those employees who have been with the company a long time, and weren’t sure how to move up, the Academy offers a clear path of training and advancement,” says Lockridge.

Given the continued demand for the company’s products, and the continuing shortage of workers, the company is placing a great deal of effort on ensuring that its current workforce sees the Academy as a way to both upgrade, but also to explore different parts of the company. This effort has been working and this year the company was able to reduce its turnover rate by just under 10%.

This reduction of turnover is based on a strong value proposition that CoorsTek offers, says Lockridge, which includes good pay, benefits and operations. “But hands down it’s our people,” that is the reason people want to work here.” She cites the company mottos, for five generations now, of Better Today, Better Together, Better Tomorrow.

In tandem with creating a better tomorrow, the company aims to make the work measurable better. “We make products that touch every industry in the world, and we want to do that responsibly and sustainably,” says Lockridge. “We want new and existing team members to help us with our ability to deliver on that promise for years to come.  Manufacturing is a critical industry for the world, and we want future generations to join our effort.”