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Meet Thomas: CNC Apprentice at Usheco

Post: Aug. 2, 2019


Thomas has been working in manufacturing since he was only 14, and his love of working with his hands led him to Usheco just about 6 months ago. He currently works as a Production Operator and splits his time between the Thermoforming and CNC Departments. Usheco is a manufacturer of custom molded plastic parts. They utilize injection molding, thermoforming, line bending and CNC routing to provide a wide variety of quality parts for their customers. Thomas helps mold these parts in the Thermoforming Department and then later assists with routing the pieces to different specs using the CNC machines.  

Thomas was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, and continues to enjoy living and working in Saugerties, NY. Growing up he attended Saugerties High School where he had the opportunity to take courses at Ulster BOCES, as well as some in-school vocational classes such as electrical, welding and technology. Instead Thomas opted to get some real-world experience in an area that interested him. He began working a part-time job in marble and granite counter-top fabrication while he was still in high school. He started out as a general laborer, but after graduation he began working full-time which eventually led to him becoming Head Fabricator.

When it was time for a change Thomas started looking for opportunities that would allow him to continue working with his hands. His background gave him a solid foundation to continue learning and growing in his new position at Usheco. He told us that he’s enjoyed working with the CNC department the most because it’s given him experience with new machinery such as lathes and mills, as well as computer programming, which are skills that he didn’t previously have.

Since Thomas works in various departments, he has the privilege of seeing products go through the entire process from start to finish. This is an aspect of the job that he enjoys and finds rewarding. As an example Thomas shared that Usheco makes products for a local company that supplies emergency safety personnel with CPR and rescue manikins. Thomas plays a role in molding the different parts that go into these manikins and then later assists with finishing and customization in the CNC department.

He found out about the Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program when Usheco opened up the opportunity to current employees. Thomas is now officially registered as a CNC apprentice. Although he currently works in both the Thermoforming and CNC Departments, his hope is to eventually work only with the CNC machines and believes that the skills and training he’ll gain from the apprentice program will give him the experience needed to make that possible.

Apprentices learn about their trade through a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction. The opportunity to gain knowledge through related instruction was what initially made Thomas want to join the program. He told us, “It sounded really interesting to have the chance to enroll in some college courses and take it one step further than just in-house training.” Apprentices have the ability to complete their related instruction hours online or through local community colleges. SUNY Ulster for example has taken advantage of the SUNY Apprenticeship Grant which allows apprentices to take up to $5,000 worth of trade related classes for free.

Alethea Shuman, VP of Sales and Engineering at Usheco told us, “We decided to join the apprenticeship program in order to provide our team with a more structured training program and more specified training.  Our hope is to increase our team’s cumulative knowledge in order to develop improved processes and advance our manufacturing capabilities to stay competitive in the near and long-term future.” Fairly new to the program, Usheco already has 3 apprentices registered under the CNC and Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) trades. “We are proud to have Tommy enrolled in the CNC Machinist Apprenticeship Program.” Said Shuman. “Tommy embraces the challenge of learning new skill sets and we look forward to supporting and watching him expand his knowledge and expertise while applying his new skills here at Usheco.”

If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or jhansen@councilofindustry.org to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.