Success Stories

Success Stories

The Groves Center has helped many companies achieve positive outcomes and we look forward to helping your company do the same. Please feel free to read our success stories and explore what we have done for these businesses and contact us to see how we can help you in the future.

Humphrey Products Logo
Humphrey Products
The Groves Center enabled Humphrey Products to emerge from the economic downturn stronger and in new markets, thanks to broad, big-idea training!

Humphrey Products manufactures pneumatic valves and actuators for both the fluid power and fluid control industries. A 110 year-old-company, its market is extremely diverse, and Humphrey supplies a broad range of industries. Among them: basic industrial machines, material handling devices, sophisticated conveyor systems and, most recently, medical devices and controls.

The push toward productivity and cost reduction in the early 2000s sent many of Humphrey’s customers looking for offshore parts sourcing. Humphrey’s markets were quickly commoditizing. By the economic downturn of 2008, the company needed to find new products to supply. It needed specialty products in markets that valued the superior design and production quality Humphrey was known for. Humphrey targeted expansion in the medical device market. To effectively compete, it sought ISO 13485 certification ―a quality standard specific to the medical device market. This standard would differentiate them from other suppliers, but it also required retooling the company’s quality compliance infrastructure. ISO certification requires extensive training to assure regulatory compliance company-wide. This meant Humphrey faced two roadblocks: developing the training program and paying for a program it hadn't budgeted for. The Groves helped with both. In less than four months they identified grant opportunities to pay for the training and then ―after Humphrey secured the monies ―developed a comprehensive and customized program.

Training was intensive and primarily targeted to engineering, manufacturing and quality control. But ISO compliance touches all aspects of the company and that meant teaching every employee about the differences between ISO 9000 for manufacturing and ISO 13485 for the medical device market.

Before the Groves Center training helped Humphrey achieve ISO 13485 certification, the medical device market was 15% of its business. After certification that number doubled to 30% ―a figure that is constantly growing.

Dave Maurer, Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer

We’re a small company. We knew we couldn't develop the training ourselves. The experts at the Groves Center understand the challenges of small business and were proactive about helping us.

During a difficult economic time, training helped us retrench. With it, we achieved ISO certification in the medical device market, which differentiated us from our competitors. As a result, we came out of the recession stronger than ever.

The Groves Center worked with us and found a trainer that fit well with our culture and our employees. Part of the success of our training came from the chemistry our staff had with their trainer.

The trainer did a good job of customizing the program to the specific needs of our compliance group before we started.

The Groves Center was ―and remains ―a great resource for us. Earlier, the Groves Center team helped us convert to Lean Manufacturing, which also made us a more competitive company.

This was broad, big-idea training helped us compete more effectively.

La Cantina Logo
La Cantina Ristorante Italiano
Enhanced customer service training at The Groves Center helped La Cantina Ristorante Italinao deliver a consistently exceptional dining experience and increase sales.

La Cantina Ristorante Italiano in Paw Paw has served outstanding Italian meals to generations of patrons. In the hardworking tradition of its Italian-American founders Amo and Rose Scotese, the restaurant has simple goals: serve excellent food, create a pleasurable dining experience, provide opportunity for its employees and continue to grow the family-owned business.

Knowing that an outstanding dining experience occurs largely through its staff, La Cantina sought help from KVCC’s the Groves Center to develop a unique program in enhanced customer service. Drawing from KVCC’s extensive hospitality programming, this training had to be exclusive to La Cantina employees, especially its wait staff. The class had to provide hands-on experiential learning specific to the La Cantina menu and brand ―that unique quality that’s made the restaurant a local favorite for three quarters of a century.

Within a few short weeks, the Groves Center developed a program exclusively for La Cantina. Held on-site on a Sunday evening ―just hours before its busy evening rush ―the class was taught by one of the region’s top hospitality experts. In addition to working with the staff, the trainer helped management identify ways to build enhanced customer service into the patron’s complete dining experience ―far exceeding their original goals for the class.

Ava Plaszczak, owner (one of the La Cantina family members/owners)

I’ve seen an increased confidence in our staff. That’s had a positive impact on the way they interact with and serve our customers.

We’ve seen an increase in sales ―which was part of our goal ―but just as important; we’ve had great feedback from many of our customers.

We had 100% participation from our staff. After the class, I got great feedback that they really liked the class and thought it was helpful.

Our staff now measures their own success by checking their individual daily sales. The more they sell, the more they know they helped create a great customer experience.

I was impressed with Brandon, our trainer. I was impressed with the Groves Center staff. They really understood our business goals and helped us create a program to meet them.

The Groves Center staff was very professional. They came out with the trainer to make sure he was set up and that we had everything we needed for our class to be a success. Wow.

Ship-Pac Logo
Custom-tailored training enabled Ship-Pac to manage increasingly complex packaging system projects without compromising its outstanding customer service.

Ship-Pac, a distributor of packaging, janitorial, safety and food packaging supplies and equipment, holds itself to a high standard of customer service, with a goal of 100% customer satisfaction. A privately held company based in Kalamazoo, Ship-Pac sells to a broad range of industrial and food processing clients in Michigan and Indiana.

To meet the changing needs of their clients and to position itself as a leader in the packaging equipment arena, Ship-Pac began specializing in engineered packaging systems. As Ship-Pac ramped up the complexity of its capabilities, it soon realized the importance of project management skills to manage these projects. It turned to KVCC’s the Groves Center to develop a custom-tailored project management training course for Ship-Pac employees.

The training criteria were not negotiable: it had to be developed quickly, it had to be cost effective and the content had to be specific to Ship-Pac’s sales and customer service procedures. The Groves Center met each of these and developed a comprehensive and unique training program in less than three months. Ship-Pac employees learned how to manage complex projects as a team. Now, from qualification to installation and support after the sale, Ship-Pac employees provide a synchronized and seamless customer experience.

Carol Stears, SPHR

Human Resources Manager and Quality Management Representative, Ship-Pac Inc.:

The Groves Center has a lot to offer. They have a wonderful facility, excellent staff, and they do a lot of really good things there.

Our employees really liked the fact that the training was just for us. And, they liked the instructor, who was a good fit with our company.

The instructor was personable and experienced. He really knew his stuff.

The staff at the Groves Center was easy to work with. They clearly understood our business objectives and what we were trying to achieve.

We needed the project management training to be specific to the way we do business. It was not a canned course in any way and we really appreciated that.

Scheduling was flexible and the turnaround ―from course concept to delivery ―was quite short.

Stryker Logo
New engineers at Stryker Instruments were immediately more productive with specialized training in computer-aided engineering design software.

Balancing innovative design, ease-of-use, and manufacturability is the challenge of great industrial engineering. Yet Stryker Instruments has done just that for decades. The surgical instruments maker is known for creating innovative operating room products that improve the surgical experience —by developing instruments that are more reliable, more intuitive and less complicated to use.

Three-dimensional design software is essential to Stryker’s success. But few engineers graduate college proficient in computer-generated design. Fewer still use the brand and version of software Stryker Instruments has standardized on ―Pro/Engineer (Pro-E) Wildfire from PTC®. Stryker needed a training course to teach its new engineers Pro-E. In-house training wasn’t an option ― managers wanted professional trainers, ideally someone PTC certified. But PTC distributors were also ruled out because their courses were too expensive. And, their course curriculum taught the software’s full capabilities, which included components not relevant to Stryker designs.

Further requirements required the trainer to teach around Stryker’s schedule, which would have the least impact to the team’s project workload. And the class had to be on-site at the Instruments’ facility to meet software licensing constraints. This list of criteria made finding a course developer difficult. Stryker turned to KVCC’s the Groves Center for help. Within just a few weeks the Groves Center provided Stryker with a list of instructors from which to select. Stryker chose a PTC-certified trainer whose qualifications, availability and teaching style met their needs. Course content was built around the software components Stryker Instruments engineers’ use most often. Best of all, developing the program fit the company’s tight budget.

When the five-day course was complete, Stryker Instruments engineers were deemed 30% more productive.

We knew we didn’t want to train in house. We needed the kind of instructors that were used to doing this ―ideally someone certified by the software maker. And that’s exactly what the Groves Center provided us.

The cost of training through the Groves Center was very competitive compared to other programs.

As soon as they learn this, our engineers are immediately 30% more effective at their job.

This training is a must have for our engineers to be really effective. The five-day course teaches them everything they need to know to be immediately productive.

Engineering is critical because today’s medical devices are sophisticated and require technological expertise. To manufacture these in a timely manner and come up with designs that you know are going to work when you start manufacturing, 3D CAD software is critical.

This training has a great impact on the design and manufacturability of our products. Designing three-dimensionally ―seeing exactly what you’re going to get― that really helps us design innovation into our products.

Learning ProE software is daunting because there’s so much to it. But, the Groves Center’s instructor was well seasoned and handled are range of learning styles well.

The Groves Center developed the course with us, they found a trainer that met our criteria, and they delivered the training on site at our facility.

Most of these engineers are going to use this software every day that they are here. Their training is essential to our business.

Pfizer Logo
Pfizer Global Supply
GMP-regulated companies benefit from a collaborative learning community.

When the learning leaders at Pfizer Global Supply (PGS) in Kalamazoo reached out to the Groves Center for lab technician training, they discovered that other local companies in similarly-regulated industries faced the same training and development challenges. PGS worked with the Groves Center to establish a collaborative community of like-minded learning leaders from large and small companies throughout the region. A common thread linking them is that each is regulated by Good Manufacturing Practices. Begun in 2010, the Learning Collaboration Community, as it became known, enables stakeholders to meet common business needs and increase core competencies by developing sustainable and measureable solutions. It allows members to benchmark across organizational boundaries and adopt best practices. And it provides better and more learning experiences than each organization could create and provide on its own. Many of the learning group’s successes have emerged from the networking and cross pollination of ideas members frequently exchange. But other successes have benefited the entire community. Technical writing, for example, is a common challenge. Each of the member organizations have activities that require tech writing, from developing procedures to writing technical reports to creating product manuals. When the group voiced this common challenge, the Groves Center created a list of writing resources readily available to all members. The Groves Center also created a tech writing training pilot program for one of the member companies. If successful, the course could be easily and cost-effectively adapted by others. When Stryker, another large anchor member of the community, brought in learning evaluation experts from Kirkpatrick Partners, it held the presentation at the Groves Center and generously opened to the Learning Collaboration Community. The community has been so successful that a similar quality community has emerged. This new network also benefits from the resources and expertise of the Groves Center.

Laura Eiler, Pfizer Global Supply, Operational Excellence, Technical Learning and Capability - Each of our organizations has a very strong learning team in its own right. Although there is always proprietary information that can’t be shared, when it comes to learning and performance improvement, there are many good practices that everyone can leverage. The Groves Center is an important focal point around which this exchange of ideas can occur. The Groves Center allows us to collaborate confidentially and to the benefit of everyone involved. We wouldn’t be able to do this without the Groves affording us the space to collaborate and meet.

Firekeepers Casino Logo
Firekeepers Casino
Casino-based hospitality training gave FireKeepers top candidates and gave tribal members the opportunity for professional development.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, which owns FireKeepers Casino, is committed to the professional development of its members. It is so important that it is mandated in the tribe’s code of laws. With the success of the casino and a 4-diamond-rated FireKeepers Hotel Grand Opening, FireKeepers sought career training for members in the fast-growing hospitality industry. This would give participants the certification and skills needed for employment in a range of jobs and organizations. And it would give FireKeepers a uniquely qualified pool of local talent to consider when hiring. FireKeepers contacted KVCC’s The Groves Center because of the college’s industry-recognized Hospitality Academy. The Academy provides specific hands on training aligned with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). FireKeepers asked the Groves Center training experts to help develop a custom Hospitality Training Program – Tier 1. The FireKeepers course needed to teach the universal fundamentals of working in a hotel, plus the unique aspects of working at a casino. That includes amenities such as club or players cards and complimentary services not found elsewhere. The FireKeepers’ Hospitality Training Program-Tier 1 was an intensive 10 week course consisting of 80 hours of instruction in a range of hotel functions from taking reservations to sales, events management, banquet planning and more. Graduates received both Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center certification, (a transcript of competency), and a nationally recognized certificate from the AHLA. This accreditation positions graduates for successful career advancement throughout the hospitality industry.

Jason Chivis, Tribal Development and Training Manager, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians - We were fortunate to work with the region’s top hospitality training expert as an instructor for our course. I knew KVCC had a great hospitality academy program. We pursued working with them for that reason. The Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center was very receptive when I contacted them. They were able to develop the program as fast as we could. We couldn’t ask for anything better. The Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center not only satisfied all our needs, they went above and beyond what we asked for. We were thoroughly pleased with how they reacted to our needs. They modified and adjusted the program to fit exactly what we were looking for. Offering the course on site at FireKeepers was really important to us. The training itself was very good, really hands on. A lot of props were involved. It was a more successful program because our participants could experience it in a real environment. This has been a good all around experience for our organization and for our tribal members.

Kaiser Aluminum Logo
Kaiser Aluminum Corporation
Access to experienced talent and educational resources attracted Kaiser Aluminum Corporation to Kalamazoo, Michigan-enhancing the market leader's ramp up of its new extrusion facility.

Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ: KALU), is a leading manufacturer of semi-fabricated specialty aluminum products serving customers worldwide with highly-engineered solutions for aerospace and high-strength, general engineering, and custom automotive and industrial applications. When Kaiser Aluminum determined it would build a new state-of-the-art rod and bar extrusion facility, it assessed locations close to its customer base and with access to talent and other resources which would further enhance the Company's position as an industry leader for quality, efficiency and Best-in-Class customer satisfaction. The pool of experienced talent was a critical component to the future success of the new extrusion facility because it is the only facility of its kind in North America that brings together the most energy efficient equipment with the most up-to-date technology in process and environmental controls. This highly automated production facility incorporates the best of lean manufacturing principles and practices to process material efficiently and cleanly to maximize product quality, consistency and reliability. Strategically located in the heart of the market, Kaiser Aluminum selected Kalamazoo, Michigan as the location where it would build its new facility. Here, Kaiser found a pool of talent experienced in advanced manufacturing, access to Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Advanced Manufacturing program graduates and the ability to develop customized training specific to Kaiser's needs. The Groves Center provided Kaiser with access to training facilities and industry experts who could work with the company to develop a program and teach the specific skills required for its state-of-the-art aluminum extrusion and casting facility. Working with the training development experts at the Groves Center, Kaiser developed a three-week new-employee training program. Taught on site at the Groves, it was led by a team of industry experts and experts at Kaiser. The new-employee program was designed to establish a baseline of skills appropriate for this highly automated facility and provide employees an understanding of the aluminum industry and Kaiser's role as a leading producer in its served market segments. As the facility has continued to ramp up and grow its employee base, the new hire training has continued. To date, the Groves Center has delivered 20 three-week programs to 200+ new hires. But it's not the only training Kaiser does. Kaiser's constant pursuit of excellence through innovation requires a continuous focus on developing its employees. Kaiser provides employees with extensive training and development opportunities. It augments its Kaiser University program -job- and industry-specific internal training -with both customized and open enrollment classes at the Groves Center. Open enrollment classes are ideal for employees whose schedule will accommodate the class offering schedule. When interest or the need for specific programs reaches critical mass, Kaiser taps the experts at The Groves Center for new customized classes. The partnership between Kaiser Aluminum and the Groves Center has and continues to benefit both the company and the local business community in the Kalamazoo region.

Kathy Ankney. HR Manager, Kaiser Aluminum Fabricated Products, LLC Kalamazoo Operations - The staff at the Groves Center did an excellent job of trying to understand exactly what we were looking for in our training programs. And as our needs changed, they were very responsive. If we needed to make adjustments, they were always accommodating. It's very helpful to have a facility like the Groves Center available, and a staff that will work directly with the end-user needs of local businesses like ours for customized training. The team at the Groves Center consistently goes above and beyond what we expect in terms of service. I'm confident that they are taking care of every detail to assure that we have a successful event, every time. KVCC and the Groves Center provided us with the unique programs we needed to be successful in the region. And with access to additional training -both custom and broad-based manufacturing training -we have the resources available to ensure our employees continue to develop skills to meet our needs and culture of continuous improvement.