World renowned filter manufacturer WIX discovers the benefits of VR training center outsourcing
When SCVRD business development specialist Cindy Hill and Florence Work Training Center manager David Wiggins walked into the WIX plant in Dillon March a year ago, the timing was perfect.
WIX, which makes automotive air, oil and cabin filters, had just partnered with a plant in Germany to repackage cabin filters and “we were instantly overloaded,” said Tommy Buckman, manufacturing manager.
The need for temporary labor coupled with a tight economy and the need to keep the number of full-time employees from increasing made Vocational Rehabilitation the ideal solution.
“We met with the managers, pitched our case and they agreed to give us a try,” Hill said.
Quality control is extremely important to WIX, whose customers include Ford, GM and Chrysler as well as NAPA and CarQuest. WIX, a division of the Affinia Group, also is the official filter supplier to NASCAR.
The initial contract with the Florence Work Training Center was small, Buckman said.
“Up until then, we liked to keep the operation in-house, so we had control,” he said. “But in this instance, we had limited time and space.”
Not only did clients at the training center pass the quality control test in filter repackaging, center personnel took it one step further.
“VR has done a great job. They’ve got a great quality system and they’ve developed their own policies and procedures,” Buckman said. In repackaging filters from overseas, “they’re handling products we never touch. They’ve been very responsive.”
From inspecting, packaging and labeling air filters, the WIX contract has expanded to include putting together o-ring assemblies for oil filters.
The 450,000-square-foot WIX plant in Dillon has about 475 employees who handle every stage of filter production. The plant ships about 800,000 filters a week.
“Our production is commodity-oriented,” Buckman said, “so we don’t hire unless we have to.” Much of the manufacturing process is automated and up to 20 percent of the staff is temporary because of fluctuations in sales. VR clients also help fill the gaps, especially with tasks that require hands-on attention.
Susan Urquhart, acting center manager in Florence, said the training center handled 23,300 air filters and 60,000 oil filters in May.
“We’re building a strong, ongoing relationship with WIX”, Hill said.