Bench Strength

Feintool USA launched its own four-year apprentice program in 1987 to ensure that it would have the skilled workers it needs to compete.

Fred Brawand, the company’s apprentice instructor, came to the Cincinnati company on a temporary assignment from his native Switzerland in 1990 to head the program. He’s now a confirmed Cincinnatian.

Brawand directs an apprentice program with four levels: toolmaker, toolmaker/EDM operator, toolmaker/CNC operator, and toolmaker/jig grinder operator.

Feintool USA works with Cincinnati’s Live Oak Technical School and with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State University in the program. The schools provide the text work for the 8,000-hour program, while the students enrolled in the program work at the company to gain their shop experience. The students are expected to maintain a “C” average in their schoolwork.

Feintool USA tries to have two apprentices each year. It has had 32 apprentices graduate from the program, and 21 of its apprentices have remained with the company.

The company pays for its apprentices’ books and schooling, and provides them wages.

“In the first two years, the company does not benefit,” from its apprentices, Brawand said. However, those students start paying their own way, and the company does reap benefits — in productivity and on-thejob skills and knowledge — by their fourth year in the program, he added.

At the end of the apprenticeship, Feintool USA provides each graduate a machinist’s toolbox equipped with tools and micrometers.

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