BRISTOL - Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Susan Bysiewicz toured DACRUZ Manufacturing Friday and met a successful hire from Bristol Adult Education’s Women in Manufacturing program.
Bysiewicz, who was accompanied by Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, began her visit by meeting with President Victor DaCruz, Parrish Castor, director of quality and technology and Jacquelyn Strawson, transitions specialist and family literacy coordinator with Bristol Adult Education. They discussed the history of DACRUZ, the Women in Manufacturing Program and how Vanessa Rivera has been doing on the job since her hire.
Strawson explained that the Women in Manufacturing program ran from February to June of this year and began with nine women. Five of them saw it through to completion.
“They got their hands-on training at Rowley Spring & Stamping and the rest at Bristol Adult Education,” said Strawson. “The program includes mathematical manufacturing, with an instructor who has background in the field. It also includes learning what to expect so that aren’t overwhelmed and learning the soft skills that will make them better employees.”
DaCruz said that Rivera works in quality control and said that she is “a good fit.”
“She has a positive attitude and always comes in with a smile on her face,” said DaCruz. “She is a fast learner and she enjoys what she is doing.”
Zoppo-Sassu said that the Women in Manufacturing program was “helping to change lives.”
“The Bristol Adult Education program is a good synergy with our local manufacturers and a great investment,” she said.
DaCruz said that his company is a contract manufacturer which does work with the medical, firearms and aerospace industries.
He began in New Britain in 1981 and moved to Bristol in 2005 as an expansion from a 10,000 square foot factory to a 30,000 square foot space. Because DaCruz has been taking advantage of apprenticeship programs, the average age of company employees is 43 - which he said is significantly lowered.
“We have been growing steadily since 2008,” DaCruz said. “We had about 70 employees when we moved to Bristol and we’ve added 10 to 15 since. We’ve also tripled our sales.”
Bysiewicz said she was impressed that DaCruz was able to “take off” while “the rest of the world was in a ditch” during the recession. DaCruz said he was able to do so by remaining positive and going out and finding work. He said he also took advantage of the state’s Small Business Express program.
When Bysiewicz asked DaCruz if there was an abundance of people who had the skills that made them ready to hire, he said there wasn’t and she asked what the state could do to create “a pipeline of young people who are ready to go.”
“We have done well lately picking up unskilled workers with some good basic skills,” said DaCruz. “Many of them prove to be very trainable. We hold a manufacturing day here where we invite local high school students and we’ve taken a couple from Bristol Central on as paid interns.”
Bysiewicz said that she has visited with other manufacturers who have hired women workers and said the owners told her that the female employees were “very focused and highly organized.”
Byziewicz later was given a tour of the factory floor, where she met with employees at their work station. DaCruz introduced Bysiewicz to Danny Toro, a younger man who can still take care of his daughter after DaCruz started him as a paid intern once dropping out of New Britain High School.
Just before the tour concluded, Byziewicz was introduced to Rivera, who showed her how she operated a digital imaging machine.
“This program is life changing,” said Rivera. “I love being here. I just applied for the top three places I want to work and DaCruz was at the top of the list. I feel blessed to be here.”
Byziewicz then heard from people on the tour about the state marketing the industry to women more to get them more involved.
“There is no evidence that there is any difference in intelligence between men and women,” added Parrish. “If you are smart enough you can do the work.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.