Benteler steel/tube’s new manufacturing facility in louisiana represents a number of firsts.
The global manufacturer of precision steel tubes selected a Port of Caddo-Bossier site in Northwest Louisiana for its first U.S. production facility, a $975 million capital investment with a new workforce that will total 675 jobs. It’s one of the biggest manufacturing projects ever in this region of Louisiana.
The project is defined by an innovative approach to workforce development guided by LED FastStart®, the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program. FastStart shaped a sustainable strategy for Benteler that breaks new ground and continues to evolve.
For the project, Louisiana Economic Development offered an incentive package that included the creation of a new $22 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at nearby Bossier Parish Community College. The center is complete and initially focuses on Benteler’s training, followed by future workforce programs for other regional manufacturers. To meet Benteler’s objectives, LED FastStart installed training equipment that mirrors machinery used at the new Benteler facility, enabling workers to begin work uniquely prepared.
“Highly sophisticated technology requires highly qualified staff. The training center Benteler worked with LED and its FastStart program to build on the campus of the Bossier Parish Community College is a one-of-a-kind steel tube manufacturing training center,” said Patrick Guillaume, senior vice president and project director for Benteler Steel/Tube. “It enables us to provide hands-on training to all of our future operators on the actual equipment they will use in our plant. That is rare and allows us to transfer our German steel engineering and manufacturing expertise to the local workforce in Shreveport. Every new Benteler Steel/Tube employee will be trained in the training center.”
Jeff Lynn, LED executive director of workforce development programs, said Benteler vendors supplied the training equipment, which cuts and finishes large seamless steel tubes. Exported worldwide, the tubes are used in oil and gas transport and exploration, and in power and mechanical applications.
“It’s very, very unique for this industry sector to have the same vintage and same era equipment in a training facility,” Lynn said. “It enables us to create a kind of apprenticeship model commonly seen in Germany.”
Working closely with Benteler, FastStart created the process for recruiting and selecting new employees, Lynn said. FastStart has developed multiple training modules — often using animation and video — that get workers up-to-speed on every aspect of work with Benteler. The modules educate workers on Benteler’s mission and culture, performance objectives, quality, manufacturing processes, equipment safety and more. Long-term, employees can develop skills in different disciplines at the training center, Lynn said.
“It’s not just recruiting and training the new workforce,” he said. “As the needs of our manufacturers change, we want to be sure their workforce continues to advance in knowledge and skill.”