By Katie Keszey
Community College of Vermont

Tyler Schmoll is young, bearded and stoic. He’s wearing a forest green button-down T-shirt—his employer’s uniform—with a patch on one chest that reads “Hazelett” in all caps and a patch on the other that displays his first name. His worn baseball hat also sports the company logo.

Sitting next to Tyler in a matching easy chair (and in matching company-issued duds) is his twin brother, Cody.

“I don’t think there’s been a day that’s passed by that I haven’t thought about working at Hazelett,” Tyler Schmoll said.

The brothers grew up in Milton. Their father started working at the strip-casting manufacturer in the late 1980s, a few years before they were born, and they recall spending summer days at the lakefront in front of the plant grounds.

“Three days a week we’d come here with my mom … we’d go meet my dad for lunch and then come back and watch the forklifts go up and down the parking lot,” Tyler recalled.

They graduated from Milton High School in 2012, and Tyler started taking classes at the Community College of Vermont in 2013. He says he knew when he left high school that he should continue his education. But he also wanted to work with his hands, and in 2013, he got a job at Hazelett.

He’s still working toward his CCV degree, and he’s determined to finish. Cody is also a CCV student; both are more than halfway to a degree. “It shows that you can educate yourself and you can be trainable, and I think that’s the important piece to me. I want to make sure that my employer knows that schooling is important.”

The brothers are confident Hazelett does know this. Cody joined Tyler at the company in 2016, and both recently completed the certified production technician program offered through a CCV-Hazelett partnership.

The CPT is a nationally recognized credential, and the Schmolls signed up immediately after they saw training manager Dan Gleason post it on the shop bulletin board.

“We both ran over and put our names down on it,” Cody said. “Any further knowledge can only benefit Hazelett and ourselves.”

The 16-week class took place outside their full-time work schedules and required three hours of class time plus homework each week.

Two months into the class, Cody’s wife gave birth to their daughter, who arrived 10 weeks early and had to spend five weeks in the NICU.

“It was definitely hard to put her back in the incubator and then get to class and then rush back to the hospital after,” he said.

After finishing the class, both brothers got a raise.

An aging workforce means the manufacturing industry nationwide and in Vermont is suffering the effects of a skills gap, but programs like CPT help, Cody said.

“An industry altogether that they’re really wanting to stress that young talented people are really needed,” Cody said.

Since 2015, CCV has partnered with a wide variety of businesses to offer the CPT program, including Super Thin Saws, GE and GlobalFoundries. Nearly 400 Vermonters have participated in CPT trainings, earning over 950 certifications. Completers who were already employed when they started training have seen an average earning increase of $5,800 by the end of their first year post-training.

“We want to have lifelong learners here because of the constant change in technologies,” Gleason, Hazelett’s training manager, said. “Graduation day—that’s a myth. That’s a false narrative. There’s no such thing.”

Gleason, who is in charge of professional development for more than 150 workers, said Hazelett views the training as an investment and offered it at no cost to employees.

For Cody Schmoll, the compensation was more than monetary.

“Not only do we walk away with a nationally recognized certification, Hazelett really stood behind us in this whole process,” he said. “Everybody received a raise at completion. That alone was worth it, not to mention the knowledge. And showing the commitment to finishing the course definitely broadened everybody’s horizons too within the company.”