Houston Community College is teaming up with Ben E. Keith Foods, the eighth largest institutional foodservice distributor in the nation, to train close 100 distribution workers to work at the food giant’s recently built 475,000-square-foot distribution center in Missouri City, TX. The training was made possible by a $69,000 Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) grant to fund logistics training to develop a skilled workforce to meet the specific needs of Ben E. Keith Foods.
With the help of HCC, Ben E. Keith workers will pursue the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) Certification. The purpose of the Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) program is to recognize individuals who demonstrate mastery of the core competencies of material handling, including understanding the life cycle of global chain logistics, the logistics environment and familiarization with different material handling equipment, introduction to safety principles and safe equipment handling, quality control principles, workplace communications, teamwork and problem solving.
“There was a wide range of students from young adults to some who had not been in a classroom for 30 years, but everyone was eager to learn. Their biggest complaint was that they wished they had learned some of these skills earlier in life, and they wished they had more time to expand on the training. They even found ways to apply warehousing topics like safety, quality and planning to their personal lives,” said HCC’s instructor, Ralph Anderson.
According to W. Elliott Stephenson, Ph.D., Vice President – Human Resources for Ben E. Keith Foods, “HCC’s training program turned out to be a great success for both expected and unexpected reasons. We expected a more educated workforce with industry-recognized credentials. We received 100% of what we expected there. What we didn’t expect was the high level of appreciation from the employees for the investment that was made in them. The experience has gone a long way to creating a strong team with a high level of morale.”
The first 31 HCC graduates completed their training in March with another 30 scheduled to begin classes in May. All of the new hires should be trained in time for the first shipments which are due to begin in June. HCC and Ben E. Keith plan to continue a long-term partnership that strengthens both institutions as well as the local community.