SME Presents Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award to Milbank Manufacturing

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., March 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- SME, the nonprofit organization committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, announced today that it has awarded its first Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award to Milbank Manufacturing of Kansas City, Missouri.

The award, established to showcase manufacturing leaders and provide outstanding benchmarks for companies seeking to build a workforce strategy, honors Milbank's exceptional commitment and dedication to upskilling the workforce, enhancing talent and preparing new and incumbent employees for a successful career in the manufacturing industry.

SME, through its learning and development division Tooling U-SME, is the manufacturing industry's leading learning and development solutions provider, working with thousands of companies including more than half of all Fortune 500 manufacturers as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. The association's extensive experience in workforce development led to its selection of Milbank for the inaugural Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award. The ongoing workforce crisis in manufacturing motivated SME to document, celebrate and share best practices with others looking to make talent development a core strategic pillar.

"SME understands the importance of having corporate recruitment, retention and development strategies as a key pillar of strategic planning for a business," said Jeannine Kunz, vice president, Tooling U-SME. "We were inspired to see how Milbank is at the forefront of training and development, investing in talent as a key driver for their business success."

Milbank, a nearly 100-year-old company that is still family-owned, has three American manufacturing facilities turning out products found in 37 countries around the world. Kunz noted that the company was awarded for recognizing the importance and value of the team that builds its products, and dedicating resources to ensure employees have the tools and support needed to exceed business goals. "Their investment pays off in a low turnover rate and overall business growth," Kunz said, adding that more than a third of Milbank employees have been with the company for 10 years or longer.

"All of us at Milbank are honored to receive this first Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award from SME," said Lezlie Ensor, senior vice president of Human Resources, Milbank Manufacturing. "Employee development has always been a focus at Milbank, and over the last few years, our goal has been to create a comprehensive training program that would increase job performance and satisfaction and improve operational efficiencies. We are honored that SME has recognized our efforts and positive results."

The successful program is standardized, using customized Training Within Industry methodologies for job instruction. Extensive use of job shadowing is integrated into the process. Additionally, Milbank's learning and development commitment is underscored by its extensive Train the Trainer program. 

Other noteworthy elements of the program include:

  • Practice training lines that mirror production lines.
  • Increased use of blended training solutions.
  • Investment in leadership development.
  • Education assistance for employees.
  • Active solicitation of feedback to encourage continual improvement.
  • Daily audits including a process audit to review the Job Instruction Breakdowns for a specific role to assure accuracy and a training audit for certified trainers.

The Excellence in Manufacturing Training Award will be bestowed annually to the company that most effectively implements best practices in training programs focused on building a high-performing workforce to help others evolve their workforce development efforts and ultimately strengthen the manufacturing industry's competitiveness.

About SME
SME connects manufacturing professionals, academia and communities, sharing knowledge and resources to build inspired, educated and prosperous manufacturers and enterprises. With nearly 90 years of experience and expertise in events, media, membership, training and development, and also through the SME Education Foundation, SME is committed to promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce and attracting future generations to advance manufacturing. Learn more at, follow @SME_MFG on Twitter or

CONTACT: Christopher Barger, Senior Director of Communications, SME,, 313.425.3190, 313.269.0721

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