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Mini-cast WW010: Scot Forge's Signing Day

Scot Forge's Signing Day

Welcome to The ESOP Podcast's Winter Wonderland, where we take the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite episodes.

In this mini-cast, Bret Keisling celebrated Scot Forge, a 100% ESOP, which participated in a Manufacturing Apprentice Signing Day and officially welcomed three new manufacturing apprentices (and employee owners.) The Signing Day was sponsored by JP Cullen, Blackhawk Technical College, and Stateline Manufacturing Alliance.

Scot Forge exemplifies the best of EO, and the Signing Day is a great way to honor those entering the workforce. The apprenticeships are part of the "earn and learn" educational model, where companies pay both wages and for the apprentices to attend college.

The body of this episode originally aired on June 3, 2022, as Mini-cast 187: Scot Forge's Signing Day.


About Scot Forge:

Scot Forge started from humble beginnings with four brothers, looking for a better future, who traveled from the Shetland Islands in Scotland to America. They found their success in the steel industry and opened a small, six-man hammer forge shop in Chicago in 1893, under the name A. Kropp Forge.

In 1978 the owning family decided to sell the company to the employees starting the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). At the same time, the name was changed to Scot Forge, reflecting the Scottish roots of its then-owners.

Today, Scot Forge operates with more than 1.3 million square feet of manufacturing space between the five plants, and ships more than 250 million pounds of forgings annually. They are proud to be a 100% employee-owned manufacturer of custom, open die forgings and seamless rolled rings.

About Stateline Manufacturing Alliance

The Stateline Manufacturing Alliance (SMA) is an eclectic group of manufacturing employers that are focused on creating greater exposure, engagement and interest in manufacturing jobs and careers for youth and adults alike. SMA members actively share information and data, as well as strategically collaborate with each other on activities, initiatives and programming. Find more information about SMA here.

About Blackhawk Technical College

Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is committed to providing flexible education in a supportive environment.


Mini-cast WW 010 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to The ESOP Podcast's Winter Wonderland, where we take the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite episodes. I hope you enjoy.

[00:00:07] Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. The end of May and early June is a time that is marked by graduations. Whether high school, college, or graduate school, it's time to celebrate the end of one phase of the journey and prepare to embark on the next.

[00:00:36] Leading up to graduation at the high school level, we're used to seeing student athletes have signing days if they're moving onto college sports. And certainly, a lot of schools do a great job of celebrating the students who are moving on to college. Often overlooked are the students who are entering the workplace.

[00:00:53] Not at Scot Forge, which is a 100% ESOP. As you may know, a forge is a furnace or hearth where metals are heated prior to hammering them into a desired shape. This is opposed to a foundry, which melts metals in special furnaces to be cast into molds. This is hard work and dangerous work and no one does it better than Scot Forge.

[00:01:15] At any rate, Scot Forge participated with six other industry leaders in a first of its kind Manufacturing Signing Day sponsored by JP Cullen and Blackhawk Technical College in conjunction with the Stateline Manufacturing Alliance.

[00:01:31] At the signing day, a group of students from 10 different high schools confirmed their pathway as manufacturing apprentices with seven industry leaders, including Scot Forge. Thirteen individuals were selected for apprenticeships under the "earn and learn" educational model that allows students to work full-time learning a trade while also taking college courses paid for by the employer.

[00:01:54] Scot Forge posted on social media a couple of really cool pictures from signing day featuring three young men named Mike Tearman, Cayden Wittrock, and Evan Noble who signed on to become manufacturing, apprentices. And they were welcomed also as the company's newest employee owners. We're going to include a couple of photos in our show notes, and I hope you'll take a moment to visit and check out the photos. The smiles on the faces of these three young men show what a happy and important occasion Signing Day is for them.

[00:02:25] Of the myriad of issues facing our country in our world, there are a number of that give me pause, but because they're not directly connected to employee ownership, we don't normally discuss them on the podcast. One such issue is that oftentimes society pressures young people to go to college after high school. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, crippling student that has become a real crisis for too many people. And in what sometimes seems like a majority of the cases, college degrees do not necessarily lead to jobs in that field and it's not unusual to graduate college and not earn enough money to pay the debt.

[00:03:00] We, and I mean that in a societal sense, we realistically know that many people attending college won't get jobs in their fields and will struggle with the debt, oftentimes defaulting. But still we put pressure on young people to go to college.

[00:03:13] So, I love the fact that there are places students can go to get real hands-on technical experience and develop a trade and then get jobs that are in the field while also taking college classes.

[00:03:24] Now, don't get me wrong. If someone has the wherewithal to go to college and get a liberal arts degree in something like the humanities, for example, then I'm all for it if that's what they want to do. But all too often, the pressures on young people to consider college often seems to ignore the hard realities of earning a degree that's marketable. So, I think it would be wonderful if companies and trade associations followed this lead and had Signing Days at that entry level. It's a great way for new team members to start their career in a positive and celebratory way. And it certainly lets them know they're valued by the company from day one.

[00:03:58] The Signing Day is just one example of what makes Scot Forge such a special company. We talked about them in Episode 83 of our primary EO/ESOP Podcast, which aired in September 2019.

[00:04:10] It was not long after the company converted to a 100% ESOP and we celebrated a community service project where Scot Forge filled backpacks for school students. It's just one example of how the company gives back to their community and supports the culture that is so very important to its business.

[00:04:27] You can find Episode 83 as well as all of our more than 400 episodes in our archives at I hope you'll check them out.

[00:04:38] To Mike Tearman, Cayden Wittrock, and Evan Noble, congratulations on the start of your journey with Scot Forge and congratulations on starting at an employee-owned company! I expect you'll discover how employee ownership sets you apart from the other students who participated in Signing Day.

[00:04:55] Congratulations to Scot Forge for participating in such a wonderful and important program. And thank you for sharing it with all of us on social media.

[00:05:04] With that, we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

[00:05:11] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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