From apprenticeships to formal coursework and academic degrees, professional development is the driving force behind those who want to continually grow their career. However, finding a company that instills an atmosphere of reaching your full potential is hard to come by.

OMAX Corporation, the global leader in abrasive waterjet technology, recently offered a tour of their Kent, WA facility to AJAC’s South Seattle College Manufacturing Academy class which was led by third-generation Tool & Die Maker Dan DeWaal. Aside from the students learning OMAX’s manufacturing process ─ from design to manufacturing – the students were offered a glimpse inside a company that is taking the lead in developing their own from within.

OMAX continually provides exceptional customer service, but more importantly, understands the importance of building relationships as stated by DeWaal, “Multiple OMAX employees as well as representatives from companies that do business with OMAX commented on how highly they regard their relationships that seemed to be a result of a high quality product made in a healthy and nurturing work environment. OMAX empowers its employees to grow within their profession by driving continuous improvement.”

OMAX frequently hires machinist assistants to mold them into future journey-level workers. The engineering department has interns year-round who get a first-hand look at how concepts and designs play a vital role to ensure every customer’s specifications are met.

DeWaal emphasized the need for understanding what skills employees bring to the table by determining where their interests lie and what makes them excited about manufacturing. “It’s my job to get you where you need to go” DeWaal said to the students.

OMAX has several in-house programs for employee professional development including a waterjet training center and AJAC’s apprenticeship programs. “OMAX has teamed up with AJAC (Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Program) and offers this program to any employee who can professionally benefit from it,” DeWaal explain. “OMAX also encourages employees who demonstrate aptitude to gain advanced degrees from local colleges as well.”

OMAX’s employees demonstrate daily their contributions to help the company grow and remain competitive in our global economy, “A machine shop employee suggested a great idea about how to fixture raw material to a rotary axis that presented the opportunity to perform 90% of cutting in a single operation,” DeWaal added. “The fixture was purchased, implemented and has been a major contributor to increased product yield. “

The manufacturing industry can be challenging to break in to, particularly for job-ready individuals who don’t have the skills necessary to be hired at entry-level positions. The South Seattle Manufacturing Academy provides a holistic approach to developing an in-demand skillset for an industry that predicts over 2 million job openings nationwide in the next ten years. Equally as important are the co-workers you surround yourself with. Finding the right company, one that values different opinions, while demonstrating respect and equal opportunity for all, is rare. OMAX has instilled a culture within its facility that allows everyone to reach their potential, a notion all Manufacturing Academy students witnessed first-hand.