Workforce Development Steps in Action


“What I like about SPESA is the things we learn at meetings are actionable right away.” - Sarah Krasley

At the end of August 2021, SPESA member Sarah Krasley, CEO of Shimmy Technologies, spoke on the workforce development panel at the SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference. During the panel, she provided recommendations for employee engagement, building a sense of culture in your company, and developing a career path for your employees.

SPESA member Bert Feinberg, Vice President of Frontier Distributors/Phillocraft, took a few of those recommendations back to Texas and implemented them within his company.

During the 2021 SPESA Executive Conference in Boston, we checked back in with Sarah and Bert to see how it was going.

Joining the Executive Conference virtually, Bert shared the steps he followed and the outcome so far.

  • Step 1: He asked the temp agency the company was using to fill vacant positions what the starting salary should be. With the agency’s recommendation in mind, he raised the salary for new employees and reevaluated current employee salaries to determine “this is what the job is worth.” This process took around 45 minutes.
  • Step 2: He pulled all of the staff together and explained the company’s products, vision, and how it is supporting end-users. He noted that, after that meeting, there was an obvious improvement in attitude and a desire to provide better for customers. He also met with each staff member individually to discuss their career path within the company.
  • Step 3: The company developed a different method for giving merit raises. It began training employees on specific jobs, tying raises to mastery of each skill.

Outcome: Bert shared that being upfront about their processes and illuminating a career trajectory for employees has already gleaned positive results for the company. Two employees have trained up to the next level. And, overall, the staff is beginning to flex better and not become stagnant in a specific job. He noted that the changes he implemented took around 2.5 weeks to complete, but the company now has a process in place they can use moving forward.

Obviously, workforce development is an ongoing issue for the sewn products industry, but it is heartening to see positive outcomes like this, as well as SPESA members working together to tackle our joint challenges.