Training program keeps Amthor growing
Business is booming at Gretna-based Amthor International, but growth is presenting challenges for Brian Amthor, the fourth-generation owner of the truck tank manufacturing company.
“We have so much work that it’s more than we can handle at times,” he says. “We need to have additional folks to handle the additional work that is coming in. Our growth is hindered if we don’t have enough employees.”
Amthor’s tanks carry any type of fuel. Their uses range from construction to septic-system care. “We are the largest truck tank manufacturer in North America,” Amthor says. “We are constantly expanding and growing the company and our distribution channels.”
The company now has more than 100 employees in Virginia and about 35 more at a smaller distribution and assembly site in upstate New York.
The majority of Amthor’s customers are in the U.S., but some are overseas. “This is a growing business because it’s diverse in so many markets,” Amthor says. “It’s a niche industry. It’s very unique. Everything we do is different to a point.”
When the company began pushing out the dates for deliveries as a result of its growing workload, Amthor contacted Laurie Moran, president and CEO of the Danville Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce, asking for help in finding trained personnel.
Amthor realized that hiring employees with no experience in a specific area would be counterproductive because he would have to take a seasoned employee off the floor to conduct training. “Now that person is off the job, and that affects the bottom line,” Amthor says. “Every minute and every hour is crucial.”
The solution: an off-site company-specific training program. “This is probably the most comprehensive work we have done for a company to date,” says Moran of setting the project in motion. “We see this as an opportunity to not only help Amthor but to set up a model for other companies as well.”
Amthor was able to partner with the Virginia Technical Institute in Altavista to put together a series of three training modules specific to the company. The modules provide training in welding, tank mounting and tank electrical work.
“We offer a 160- to 200-hour training module,” Amthor says. The first module started Oct. 19 and the remaining modules start every two weeks thereafter. Classes run eight hours a day, five days a week with a minimum of 10 people per module.
The company is primarily looking for second-shift employees but will be adding workers to the first shift as well. “We have grants that are covering the entire training expense and a stipend,” Amthor says. West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and the Dan River Region Collaborative are providing the funding.
“This is unique in that there are multiple partners that have come together to do this,” Moran says. “We try to be a connector and navigator through the process. It’s all about meeting the needs of the employer.”
Amthor hopes to continue the modules as the company grows. “We have to see where things are as far as people after the first module,” he says.