Growth spurts for two Pioneer Valley companies

  • Elizabeth A. Paquette, president of Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, talks about the business. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Larry Jones, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, measures linear distances on a part as part of the inspection process. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ryan Ward, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, visually inspects a bearing cage. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Larry Jones, an employee at Rock Valley Tool, measures linear distances as part of the inspection process at the company’s headquarters. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Amanda Thomas, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, works on a part used in airplane control panels. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Amanda Thomas, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, works on a part used in airplane control panels. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton has landed an $87,500 state grant to train 35 workers and create two jobs by 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • TJ Mish, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, loads parts to be cut. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Larry Jones, an employee at Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, measures linear distances on a part as part of the inspection process. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/27/2019 4:05:36 PM

AMHERST — Although nestled in the Pioneer Valley, Amherst company Verité reaches into the international sphere — working with businesses such as Keurig, Target, Nestle, The Walt Disney Co., and the U.S. Department of Labor, the company seeks to eliminate labor rights violations around the globe.

Verité is one of two businesses in Hampshire County, along with Rock Valley Tool in Easthampton, to have been selected to receive a combined total of nearly $118,000 in state funding to train employees and create new jobs.

Verité will receive $30,312 to train 34 workers and create six new jobs by 2021, and Rock Valley Tool will receive $87,500 to train 35 workers and create two jobs by 2021 as part of the state’s Workforce Training Fund Program. The businesses were among 36 recipients chosen from throughout the state.

Founded in 1994 in Amherst, Verité’s work entails focusing on “some of the main labor issues that people see in the news every day,” said CEO Shawn MacDonald, “such as human trafficking, child labor, sweatshop conditions, and generally, the problems that workers face in the global economy.”

To curb these labor abuses, employees at Verité target workers’ rights issues that occur in global supply chains — the network or organizations around the world that businesses use to source products and labor.

The state grant will allow Verité to provide training in areas such as managing, hiring and retaining employees; a public speaking course intended to allow more staff members to hold outreach forums; and a Portuguese language course designed for Spanish speakers, which will allow the company to engage with more work in Brazil. The money will also allow the company to evaluate the safety of potential field locations, said Debbie Zeidenberg, senior director for program strategy and impact at Verité.

“We don’t want to have to pass up an opportunity that could have a significant impact because we don’t have the language skills, or we’re not sure about the security on the ground,” Zeidenberg said, noting that the training will help to ensure the company is “ready for these opportunities when they come up.”

Zeidenberg said that the organization will also try to bring in as many local trainers as possible in order to allow “keeping that money in the community, and at least in the state.”

Although the vast majority of Verité’s staff is based in Amherst, at least half of the employees travel internationally on a regular basis, Zeidenberg said, with some of these employees spending more time abroad than at the office.

The organization’s Amherst location has provided “an incredible pool of talent that comes from the five colleges,” Zeidenberg said, which has allowed Verité to attract international interest and make a global impact.

Rock Valley Tool

Rock Valley Tool is no stranger to the Workforce Training Fund Program; in 2017, the company received a $56,525 grant that allowed the business to train 23 workers and add one new job. This grant actually led to the creation of at least four jobs, said Rock Valley Tool President Elizabeth Paquette, including an additional employee in the facility’s aerospace inspection room and three aerospace machinists.

The precision machining facility supplies manufactured parts for customers in the aerospace, commercial/industrial, and plastic blow molding industries.

The new grant will provide training opportunities “for the management team and the employees out on the floor to keep them up to date with new procedures and protocols,” Paquette said, and will allow the organization to ensure that all employees are properly trained in the quality management system.

While the grant outlines an anticipated two new jobs by 2021, Paquette said that Rock Valley Tool may be able to create up to three positions. These jobs would include inspection, engineering/programming and machinist roles.

The company, which was founded in the late 1950s in the Rock Valley neighborhood of Holyoke, currently has 36 workers. The business moved to Easthampton in the late 1970s.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com. 


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