PELL CITY – Jefferson State Community College officials gathered at WKW Erbsloeh North America LLC for a $10,000 donation the company made toward the college’s Manufacturing Systems Technology Degree Program.
“We have a great partnership with Jefferson State,” said Marsha Robinson, a spokesperson for WKW Erbsloeh North America, in Pell City’s Industrial Park.
WKW Erbsloeh North America makes aluminum molding trim for BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and General Motors brand vehicles. The local automobile supplier has partnered with Jeff State for the past year.
Nicholas Kin, the associate dean at the Jefferson State Community College Pell City campus, said the college has a tuition/fees and book assistance program funded by WKW Automotive. He said the company also employees students while they are learning, earning an Associate in Applied Science Degree in manufacturing technology.
Robinson said the company has nine employees in the program, and all but one has a grade-point average above 3.5.
“We need more students,” said Todd Green, president of WKW Erbsloeh North America in Pell City. “We could use 12 to 16 people today.”
The program will help provide skilled workers for the local industry.
“The products we make require a lot of skill,” said Guido Grandi, WKW chief operating officer, who was in Pell City on Thursday from Germany for the presentation. “We have a hard time finding those people with those skills.”
Green said the program is good for WKW Erbsloeh North America because its business is growing, changing and advancing.
“With the changes in equipment, we need a higher skilled level team member,” he said.
To learn more about the Manufacturing Systems Technology Degree program, go to www.jeffersonstate.edu/wkw.
Former Pell City Mayor Guin Robinson, who is now the director of community outreach for Jeff State, said the partnership between the school and WKW Automotive serves as a model for what can happen with the college and industry join together.
“It’s a great example of getting on the same page and responding to workforce needs,” Robinson said.
Robinson said he was Pell City’s mayor when WKW Automotive selected the municipality as its North America headquarters.
“This company really opened the door (for local automobile suppliers),” he said. “This was the beginning.”
Officials said WKW Erbsloeh North America began production in Pell City in 2008 with about 150 workers. Today the Pell City company employs about 500 associates.