Fecon, Incorporated, based in Lebanon, Ohio, has developed a successful approach to achieving a career-ready work force. Fecon is a small company that designs, engineers, and produces a wide range of industry-leading forestry and drilling equipment. Its products are used for clearing vegetation for utility and road rights-of-way, invasive species removal, fire-risk abatement, maintaining and improving forests, wetlands, and other habitats, as well as in the energy industry to clear vegetation for exploration and infrastructure and in the pursuit of renewable sources of energy. Fecon equipment is used in residential and small commercial geothermal drilling, soil and ground water remediation, bio-harvesting for clean energy, material recycling, and road construction and maintenance. Their products are used extensively in the United States, and throughout the world in countries such as Canada, Paraguay, Chile, France, Russia, Ghana, and Australia.
Given the wide range of products they manufacture, Fecon requires a diverse, dedicated, and skilled workforce. To that end, they have cultivated robust relationships with local universities, high schools and technology training schools. The success of this approach is not in a single aspect of it, but rather in the broad range of programs in which Fecon takes part.
At the university level, Fecon hosts engineering internships for 12 students from the University of Cincinnati (UC), University of Dayton (UD) and Ohio State University (OSU) each year. They also participate in a cooperative education program with the Honors-PLUS program in UC’s College of Business. Fecon’s vice president of operations and engineering regularly attends student networking events at UC and UD. They grant internships to OSU students majoring in international business via the Ohio Export Internship Program. These interns work on projects such as strategic planning for expanding export activities, identifying new export markets and other areas of international trade. Fecon offers real-world design issues to engineering students at UD’s Innovation Center, who are tasked with producing design, design and build, redesign, or innovation of a product. Students are mentored by a senior Fecon engineer during the semester-long assignments. Fecon also participated as a case study in a semester-long strategic analysis conducted by students of UD’s MBA program.
At the high school and technology training school levels, Fecon has a longstanding partnership with the Warren County Career Center (WCCC), accepting up to five welding and machinist interns from their program each year. Their Operations Manager conducts presentations during WCCC welding and machining classes. To ensure students are able to gain as much hands-on practice as possible, Fecon donated 5 tons of scrap steel to the WCCC program. The company also provides real-world engineering drawings to WCCC for welding students’ practice. Recently, Fecon started a similar program with Butler (County) Technology and Career Development Schools, speaking at classes and providing tours and information to their students.
Fecon believes that, in order to have a workforce with the skills necessary to make their business succeed, they must assist in building that workforce. Their wide-ranging and diversified approach to these internships and partnerships are in large part what makes Fecon the success it is today.