Getting Involved with Education and the Environment

In February, we blogged about our internship program, and we noted that, increasingly, schools just aren’t spending enough time providing students with the critical skills they need in math and science to prepare them for real-world jobs in areas such as advanced manufacturing.
So we would like to take this opportunity to promote an initiative that is working to remedy this problem. A group called the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics held educational activities throughout the United States in April to boost awareness among young people of the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM).
These efforts (in the form of special lectures, events, contests, and so forth in schools) focused on the “Mathematics of Sustainability” in order to “spotlight the role of mathematics in helping us balance human needs against the world’s resources while operating within the constraints of nature, while seeking creative solutions for a sustainable way of life.” It’s quite a mouthful, but we think it translates into reaching out to the next generation of Americans to emphasize how important it is to study hard not just for themselves but also for their communities — and even their world.
For example, in our own plant, we recently held an eight-week basic metalworking skills class in partnership with the Jane Addams Resource Corp. (JARC) for our newer employees. We taught math as it applies to manufacturing (introduction to statistical control, etc.). We have a joint partnership with JARC, and their instructors come out to our facility whenever we have enough new employees to run through the program (we had 12 this time).
Math Awareness Month is a worthy project, and we encourage our customers and friends to support it if they can — even if you just tweet about it. It’s something we all have a vested interest in.


Frankly, we think every month should be devoted to improving the skills of our present and future employees. 

Matt Keats talks about Hiring for the Future

A business is nothing without the right employees. The act of hiring is in itself a hard to master art form. You can have the perfect product and a massive client list, but without an outstanding staff, they aren’t worth much. If you don’t have the right team on the floor, you will find that it is nearly impossible to put out a high quality product that will keep your customers happy and coming back year after year. So what are the secrets to hiring? What can you do to build an organization that will thrive even as employees come and go?
Matt Keats, from Keats Southwest, has some very clear ideas on how to put together a staff that not only produces, but also shares a common vision. In the highly informative video below, Matt takes you through the entire hiring philosophy and process and that has made all three of Keats’ locations leaders in the world of small metal stampings, wireforms, and assemblies.

Matt Keats and Establishing Keats in El Paso

When you expand your business into a new community there are any number of challenges. First and foremost, you have to bring with you an amazing product or service that will add to an already existing business environment.  However, just having the best of something will not guarantee success; it is important that you connect with your new surroundings on a personal level.
When our own Matt Keats created Keats Southwest in the summer of 1994, he was faced with a unique challenge: bring a historically Midwestern business to the great city of El Paso, Texas. We could try and tell the story of how Matt successfully made the transition, but instead we think it would be better if we let Matt share his truly unique insights. Enjoy!

Fishin’ with Keats


Despite a few stops and starts and some springtime snowstorms, it’s about that time of year again to get out the old fishing rod and tackle box. Nothing is more relaxing (or for that matter, frustrating) than spending a day on the water and putting a hook in the water. At Keats, we are no different. Quite a few of us have used our vacation and weekend time trying to catch the “big one”! 
That’s why everyone at Keats was thrilled when a big name in the recreational fishing industry came to us with an exciting and challenging project. The client wanted to produce something called a “speed clip” which was to be attached to their custom fishing rods. This unique clip was designed to replace the swivel on the rod, and it would allow users to quickly change the type of lure they were using without a great deal of effort.
Working closely with the client, we were able to apply our state-of-the-art four-slide technology to manufacture the clip.  Thanks to our years of experience and highly trained staff, we were able to turn what was an expensive and difficult to produce multi part assembly into a one-piece assembly that saved both money and time.  The best part is that the customer was so pleased he has been relying exclusively on Keats to produce his speed clips for most of the last decade.
While not everyone can fully appreciate how great it is to be able to change lures quickly while in the middle of a long day of fishing, they can appreciate the high quality work, the amazing customer service, and the cost-effectiveness that comes with everything we create.

The Kids Really Are Our Future


At Keats, we know that there is a great future in metal stampings and wire forms. As the demand grows for smaller and smaller precision metal parts, it is clear that the world is going to need a new generation of expert four-slide, multi-slide, and punch press operators.  That’s why we got involved with the IllinoisWorkNet program. The program, which was launched by the Illinois Workforce Investment Board (IWIB), was created to help businesses like Keats connect with and develop Illinois’ workforce.
In our case, we chose two outstanding candidates from Wheeling High School to participate in a 6-week internship program. The students from Wheeling High attended a job fair where they ranked the companies and the companies ranked the kids, and a matching process ensued. After careful consideration, we chose our two interns who showed both a proficiency in math and computer sciences and an interest in a career with Keats.
After both students successfully served their internships, we decided to hire them on full-time! They’ve both started in the quality control department and are making strides toward becoming key parts of the Keats family. In future blogs we will keep you updated on their progress, as they move up the ladder at Keats.
Programs like Illinois Workforce are not only the key to the future of companies like Keats, but also the key to the future of our country. If we are truly committed to a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. then we have to reach out to the new generation and show them how exciting and profitable our work can be.
If you want to learn more about or even participate in the Illinois Workforce program please visit their website. If you don’t live in Illinois, go to the Department of Labor’s websiteand find a program in your area.