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Decorative Panels International Utilizes Going PRO Training Fund to Hire, Train, & Stay Competitive

With the assistance of Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium Decorative Panels International (DPI) of Alpena received $73,500 in Going PRO Talent Fund awards which they utilized to train two existing employees and hire over 20 new workers.

Decorative Panels International (DPI) has been established in Alpena Michigan for more than 60 years providing homeowners and retailers with decorative wall panels. They are a Wet-dry process S2S Hardboard Manufacturer and the only one left of its kind. DPI-Alpena employs 193 employees including skilled trades in Maintenance Mechanics and Maintenance Electricians. In 2020, DPI was voted The Alpena News’ Sunrise Side “Employer of the Year” by the community and they strive for continuous improvement. During the pandemic, DPI has maintained their commitment to the local community by providing 2,500 face shields to City and Township Fire Departments, medial facilities, nursing homes, grocery stores, schools and emergency facilities.

DPI prefers to hire employees experienced in manufacturing, but this is not always possible. Therefore, they rely on their DOL apprenticeship program along with their On the Job training (OJT) program and additional education to train new staff members to obtain the skills necessary for these skilled trade positions. The Going PRO Training award has been highly beneficial in the training process, especially as some current staff are retiring and needing to be replaced.

DPI’s facility started operations in 1957 and they have original press line machinery onsite, which calls for a robust maintenance department. No other press lines in the nation are designed for DPI’s hardboard manufacturing wet dry process, smooth 2 sided process, so it takes a highly trained skilled trades maintenance department to maintain and run the equipment correctly and efficiently.

DPI’s employees’ value competitive training opportunities. This helps create loyalty between DPI and the employees; therefore, creating a quality product and less turnover. Having the ability for DPI’s employees to attend specific training on stamping, robotics and welding not only gives them the skills necessary within the wood pulp industry it also gives DPI an advantage on contracts against industry competitors.

The two Maintenance Mechanic Apprentices, Josh & Kaleb, received training in Blueprint Reading, Predictive & Preventative Maintenance, Machine Repair, Apprentice Hydraulics, and more. In addition, both receive on-the-job training daily, learning new tasks everyday with Journeyman Maintenance Mechanic employees. The Apprentice classes will provide a career path for these team members to become Maintenance Mechanic Journeyman.

Sharon Kindt, HR Manager at DPI, states, “The OJT training that our employees receive is specific to our industry and process. It is invaluable to the trainee and a must in order to be successful here at DPI.”

“Michigan Works! has been a huge help in this process, we have never done something like this before and I would not have been able to complete this whole process without them,” Kindt continues, “Outside from that, they have also done job fairs in which we have participated and have been able to talk to applicants and receive applications from job seekers.”


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