Finelite Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-performance lighting systems, has established an in-house university in partnership with Training and Development Solutions to provide Finelite employees a customized training program designed to develop their job skills and enhance their leadership capabilities. Finelite University offers a series of seven workshops to employees on three tracks – manager, supervisor and lead – to provide them the opportunity to develop the skills needed to step up to the next level in the organization.
The seeds of Finelite University were planted five years ago when company founder Terry Clark recognized that some of the organization’s best leaders were moving up from within the company and saw the potential to build the organization’s bench strength in-house. The first customized on-site ESL and skill-building classes were offered to frontline leads and proved very popular and successful.
Three years later the company expanded its employee training initiative by adopting the university model to establish a series of customized classes focused on leadership development for managers, supervisors and leads. Half-day workshops are offered on-site every six weeks for small groups of 25-30 employees, a format that minimizes time away from the production floor while encouraging immediate transference of newly acquired skills to the job.
In-house learning and development universities were first created within large corporations in the late 1980s, but adapting the university model for small to mid-size organizations can sometimes be challenging due to budget and time constraints. Building on Terry Clark’s vision for developing and promoting Finelite employees from within, Sherri Shimomura, Finelite’s Vice President of Human Resources, worked with the Training and Development Solutions team to scale the university model to fit Finelite’s specific needs, timeline and budget.
Each Finelite training workshop is kicked off by a Finelite executive “sponsor” who demonstrates the importance of employee learning to senior management and helps align employee development with organizational goals and initiatives. Ms. Shimomura reports that workshop participation is high, and views the current series of workshops as a solid foundation which can be expanded upon in future years. She values the partnership with Training and Development Solutions, praising the high quality of the trainers, the affordability of the program and the connection to the local community through Training and Development’s affiliation with Chabot-Las Positas Community College District.
Finelite currently employs 480 workers and maintains its corporate headquarters and 175,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Union City, California.