|navigate: home: magazine: fall 2001: article|
Outreach units collaborate in training program for baking company|
By Karen L. Trimbath
| An innovative training and technical assistance program is helping the employees of Nardone Bros. Baking Co. become more knowledgeable about their jobs and improving the companys productivity thanks to a partnership between Nardone Bros., Penn State Wilkes-Barre Continuing Education, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PENNTAP). The program, which encompasses training in food safety, hazardous chemicals handling and forklift safety, began with several sessions last year and continued through this summer.|
Family-owned and operated, Nardone Bros. is a growing company of nearly 200 employees located in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The family operated a successful bakery, making bread for years, and then started making pizzas from the extra dough. Now, the company typically produces 20,000 pizzas a day. Ninety percent of the business is in providing pizza for school districts in 20 states, from here to Florida and out to the West Coast. The company also co-packs pizza for other firms and last year became a co-packer of Tombstone Pizzas for Kraft Foods.
Helping Nardone Bros. is good for both the University and the community at large, Michael McDavid, regional director for the Northeast Region of Penn State Cooperative Extension and Outreach, said. McDavid, who helps administer the program with his outreach partners, believes the program is a great example of how University outreach efforts work.
Were bringing together a lot of outreach organizations for a common purpose to assist Nardone Bros., McDavid noted. Were providing instruction that will enable employees to make a better product and improve the companys bottom line.
The training program got its start in July 2000, when a team of PENNTAP and Continuing Education staff visited one of Nardone Bros. two manufacturing sites. Co-owner Thomas R. Nardone discussed the companys training needs with the Penn State representatives.
When Kraft requested Nardone Bros. provide additional training for employees, Penn States expertise saved the day, according to Nardone.
We needed some refresher courses, and the University provided this need, he said. Without Penn State, we wouldnt have known where to start.
Program development began with the formation of a partnership between Penn State Wilkes-Barre Continuing Education, Penn State Cooperative Extension and PENNTAP. Each organization has different goals:
Each partner has brought special strengths to this outreach activity, according to Mark Toda, senior technology specialist with PENNTAP.
After being contacted by Estella Parker-Killian, continuing education representative at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, about the companys education and training needs, Toda drew upon his past collaborations with Mary Ehret, Penn State Cooperative Extension agent in Luzerne County, and Bill Paletski, senior technology specialist with PENNTAP. Toda requested their expertise in pulling together a program and asked them to become instructors. Dr. William Henning, associate professor of dairy and animal science, was also consulted for his expertise in food processing.
Working with a company like Nardone Bros. offered a unique opportunity to draw on the many resources of the University, Parker-Killian said. Continuing Education, Cooperative Extension and PENNTAP each have areas of expertise to offer this ongoing training effort.
Nardone Bros. has benefited from our partnership, Toda said. It shows that Penn States outreach organizations really are working together. Penn State encourages its organizations to collaborate. Its all about people working with people.
McDavid added, Every training contact or opportunity is different. One size doesnt fit all. Bringing together other outreach organizations takes cooperation and trust, but were all working toward the same goal, and thats to help Nardone Bros.
The programs components included food safety training, forklift safety awareness and hazardous chemicals communication. Ehret taught the components on food safety and personal hygiene, and Paletski taught the forklift safety awareness and hazardous chemicals communication programs.
Most of the training involved hands-on instruction, videos and other exercises. Both Ehret and Paletski were impressed by their students motivation to learn.
Nardone Bros. employees are very aware of food safety procedures, and they all want to make sure their customers, many of whom are children, are safe and healthy, Ehret said. Their enthusiasm made me look forward to teaching the next lesson.
We also provided instruction for employees who will train others in the company, Paletski added. This train-the-trainer program provides continuous help.
Additional food safety and personal hygiene sessions have been conducted in Spanish for the companys 30 Latino employees. Future programs include advanced instruction in food safety aimed at supervisors and a review of the companys manufacturing process. All of these programs improve productivity through employee education, Nardone said.
On a scale of one to 10, Id give Penn State a 10. Our employees really took an interest in the instruction, because they were provided with sound reasons for our workplace policies. They became confident in asking questions about safety. They take pride in their work and in helping each other along, Nardone said.