American Eagle Antiques believes in unique, quality furnishings and excellent customer service

American Eagle Antiques wine rack

(Courtesy of Guest Bloggers Bill and Colleen Ulbrich, co-owners, American Eagle Antiques)

I started American Eagle Antiques in 1973 in my home state of New Jersey. Shopping local flea markets sparked an interest in antiques, particularly furniture. I was buying and selling for several years before I married Colleen, a native Clevelander and good friend from student days at Case Western Reserve University.

Bill and Colleen Ulbrich of American Eagle Antiques

Together, we spent about 30 years as antique furniture dealers — buying, repairing and refinishing, then selling traditional American Victorian and oak furniture, then expanding to French furniture, 1880s through Art Deco. We travelled to numerous events, from formal shows, like Chicago O’Hare, Papabello Cleveland Coliseum, NYC Pier Shows, to outdoor markets, like Brimfield, Mass., and Burton, Ohio. We logged thousands of miles each year, from New Jersey to Ohio to Minnesota, to D.C. to Atlanta.

About 10 years ago, we returned to Cleveland. Colleen worked for five years as a Cleveland Clinic medical secretary while I did full-time furniture restoration. Colleen “retired,” translated as returning to work with me, and we became intrigued by the repurposing of industrial salvage and discovered HGR!

Many hours are now spent together at our workshop located in an old factory building near Midtown, where we create one-of-a-kind furnishings from industrial salvage items, most acquired from HGR. We turn utility carts into brightly painted bar carts, machine stands into handsome end tables, lift tables and conveyor frames into distinctive bars or kitchen islands. We even began to incorporate local hardwoods into our repurposed pieces.

Most recently we’ve expanded to include live-edge furniture, constructed in our workshop for inventory and for custom orders. The emphasis is on dramatic grain using highly figured locally-sourced maple, walnut, oak, cherry and sycamore, to produce dining tables, desks, coffee tables, console and side tables, custom dry bars and kitchen islands. We continue to creatively use HGR salvage for one-of-a-kind furnishings for customers, who will treasure their unique “finds.”

Most of our training was on-the-job and self-taught training, including woodworking skills, repair and refinishing techniques, and above all, our teamwork! We now sell from our workshop/showroom, at markets and trade events, and have a division named UrbanFactoryClassics for selling industrial furnishings via Etsy.com and other online outlets.

We have many local customers but have shipped many major pieces to California, Utah, Florida, Texas, and around the U.S. thanks to Etsy. Our customers range from Millennials to middle-aged professionals and business owners to retirees.

Through 40-plus years, we have enjoyed the good times, coped with the tough times, changed and adapted, continue to learn, and still enjoy the challenge to be creative. We treasure each other and the wonderful people we meet, including the great folks at HGR!

American Eagle Antiques coffee tableAmerican Eagle Antiques live-edge coffee table American Eagle Antiques cart table

Local, no-cost, residential-training program graduates skilled workers

Cleveland Job Corps graduation

    The background

Are you aware of a skilled-workforce resource in your own backyard that can help your business fill positions or help someone you know get no-cost job training? At 13421 Coit Road, in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, there are a bunch of yellow buildings behind a fence that look like a small college campus or a military base. They house Cleveland Job Corps offices and classrooms, its 100 employees and space for 346 residents, aged 16-24.

In 1964, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty program, which also included Head Start, Job Corps began repurposing and renovating former military installations into dormitories and classrooms.

The current Cleveland location is the third in the area and was built in 2007-2008. The first was on Ansel Road near Martin Luther King Blvd. The second was in the Tudor Arms Hotel on Carnegie Ave. There are 126 Job Corps locations in the United States with at least one in every state. In Ohio, there are three locations: Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Owned by The U.S. Department of Labor, the facilities are operated by private contractors. Serrato Corporation of Tucson, Arizona has operated the Cleveland facility since 2012, in addition to Blue Ridge, Virginia, and is a subcontractor at the Charleston, West Virginia, facility.

Mr. William Houston has been the Cleveland center’s director since 2012. He has been with Job Corps for 17 years and is a Dayton, Ohio, native. He says, “We have evolved from an organization that was perceived as a last-ditch effort if a student didn’t finish high school and have shifted to a residential vocational-training center for. We are seeing more students who finished high school and who want to take advantage of free technical career training. Often, students were homeless because of the current trend of couch surfing or crashing temporarily with family and friends. They usually have had jobs but want a career and don’t want to pay $10,000-20,000 for a college training program.”

How it happens

There are five phases to the program:

  1. Outreach and recruitment
  2. Career preparation orientation (60 days receiving employability skills, customer service coaching and an array of self-assessments, as well as basic certifications, including information technology skills and program-placement assessments)
  3. Career development (six months to one year of training in the facility, offsite at Cuyahoga Community College and in work-based training internships; all transportation is provided)
  4. Career transition (one to two months prior to leaving, students work with staff to develop a departure plan while obtaining employability certificates and credentials , as well as resume and portfolio preparation)
  5. Student placement services for up to 1.5 years from graduation (centers are held by the government to a 92-percent placement goal for graduating students, which includes employment, the military, a college or advanced training)

During their time in the program, students receive free housing, basic medical care, meals, education, training, entertainment and recreation, and a biweekly living-allowance stipend that some save in order to become independent. They also are exposed to a positive normative culture with a zero-tolerance policy (no drugs or alcohol, bullying, violence, weapons or arrests). Students can go home on the weekends and during the holidays. They are drug tested upon admission.

The program is self-paced; so, students can start any day of the year and graduate all year long, not in a set semester-style like other schools. Last year, Cleveland had an 89-percent placement rate. But, to keep that percentage high, they need the help of local companies.

What’s in it for employers

The Job Corps screens graduates and works with employers as a pipeline for graduate placement. The organization produces future workers and feeds the workforce with well-trained, motivated, entry-level employees. Employers can provide students with the training that they need while, at the same time, giving the student a “trial run” in a paid or unpaid internship. When students graduate, many companies end up hiring them because the students already have basic safety skills, life skills, industry certifications and on-the-job training, unlike hiring someone from a temporary or job-placement agency.

Some of the local companies that have benefited by hiring graduates include Donley’s Construction, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, John Carroll University, Swagelok and Pipefitters.

The Cleveland facility trains students in four industries: advanced manufacturing (facilities maintenance, machine technology and welding), construction (heavy equipment operator, bricklaying and carpentry), health care (child care development, clinical medical assistant, medical administrative assistant, nurse assistant/home health aide, emergency medical technician), and security and protective services. Job Corps currently is partnering with Dan T. Moore Company and Workroom Program Alliance to equip a welding and machine shop on campus so that students do not need to travel to Tri-C.

In closing, Houston says, “We want to increase awareness that there’s a training facility preparing young adults for the workforce right here in Cleveland at no cost to the student. Our mission is to get young adults ready, and they are willing and able. These are the youth who stood up and decided to be proactive. They’re here, not on the streets. They have the skills, training, education and drive to become your next great employee.”

If you’re interested in partnering with Cleveland Job Corps, you can contact Harriet Hadley, business community liaison, at 216-541-2526 or Hadley.Harriet@jobcorps.org.

Cleveland Job Corps facility maintenance studentCleveland Job Corps carpentry studentCleveland Job Corps bricklaying studentsCleveland Job Corps brick student1

Tips & tricks for implementing Lean/Six Sigma tools

Lean manufacturing

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Chris Adams MBA, Lean BB and Six Sigma BB)

Lean and Six Sigma have been methodologies I have used throughout my career, whether I knew them at that time by those names or not. Educated in Industrial and Operations Engineering “at that school up north,” The University of Michigan, and subsequently obtaining an MBA at The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, I was fortunate enough to get the strict schooling behind me and then later obtained my Lean Black Belt through the corporate Lean office of Emerson Electric in St. Louis and my Six Sigma Black Belt through Lorain County Community College via Dan Sommers who is a Six Sigma Black Belt alumni from GE Lighting.

The vast majority of my experience with Lean and Six Sigma methodologies has come through the manufacturing world. So, the first tip I would propose is to start with the Lean Journey 5S (or sometimes companies choose to use 6S to call out safety separately) if you and your organization have the wherewithal and commitment. Instituting the rigors of 5S and then maintaining are definitely a place where good standard work and an audit process pay off.

But, many an organization is too impatient to allow for the “cost” of 5S and the, sometimes, soft-cost savings to be returned. So, my second tip, Value Stream Mapping is still the way to make the current state be documented and understood as well as provide for the solid basis on which future-state Value Stream Maps can drive the profitability of an organization in the right direction.

My third tip is to use, sooner rather than later, the Value Stream Mapping process to understand back to the suppliers’ supplier and forward to the customers’ customer. I have been with organizations that have been successful in implementing and working with their suppliers and customers as a win-win in the value chain.

The fourth tip is to have a solid foundation for the process used to implement project- or process-based change. In my last two roles, I have been fortunate enough to work with organizations that were committed enough to the process of leading change that Policy Deployment (or Strategy Deployment or X-matrix) were truly practiced. An organization that waterfalls its top three to five main corporate objectives to the associate on the floor really understands what teamwork is all about.

My fifth and final tip is that, although my experience (and to this point) a significant amount of the use of Lean and Six Sigma tools have come through the manufacturing world, service industries are a hotbed where these tools can be more universally applied. In my personal experience as a volunteer at one of the most respected hospital systems in the world, we’ve learned that a process is a process and can be improved.