At Southwire, headquartered in Carrollton, Georgia, we work hard every day to discover, develop, and distribute strong and sustainable solutions that exceed the expectations of our stakeholders around the world. We continue to build on our nearly seven decades of rich history by looking to a future where needs will be met through high-end systems and solutions, guided by the technologies, forces, and trends shaping our industry.
One of North America’s leading manufacturers of wire and cable, we now have more than 7,000 employees who work in one of our 35 plants, 12 customer service centers, or our sales and support offices across the globe.
Our commitment is to remain generationally-sustainable for the next 100 years and beyond. This goes beyond not only selling the best quality products at the lowest cost, but encompasses all of the areas that we believe create a sustainable business –Growing Green through our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint, Living Well by focusing on the safety, health, and overall satisfaction of our people, Giving Back through service to our communities, Doing Right by keeping ethical practices at the forefront of all aspects of our business, and Building Worth for all of our stakeholders.
So, how are we doing this? Like many in our industry, we are considering and developing programs and strategies to address the impact of megatrends, especially the skilled trade shortage, on the future of our business.
Long ago, we made the decision to require our employees to have a high school diploma. Sounds simple, but in the early 2000s, the graduation rate in our largest area of operations was around 66 percent. Our labor pool was shrinking, and there were social and economic challenges in the community. So, we went to the school system and asked how we could help; we wanted to support a transformation in our community.
These ideas and discussions paved the way for 12 for Life®, a partnership with local school systems, inspiring at-risk students to earn wages by working in a Southwire manufacturing facility while completing high school. Since 2007, the program has graduated and changed the lives of more than 2,900 students, some of whom continue to work at Southwire and some who have gone on to pursue post-secondary education, military service, or other occupations. In that same time, the county’s graduation rates have improved to above the national average, helping us sustain a larger potential workforce in the community. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, we temporarily modified our approach to the program, but we continued to find ways to support and provide resources and opportunities to at risk students in our communities.
And, 12 for Life® is not the only way we are working to meet the growing need for talent. Our company invests in STEM education at the high school level, and we have strong and vibrant partnerships with universities and technical colleges in the places we call home. We also work with national apprenticeship organizations and chapters, supporting them with time, educational resources and dollars to encourage further education in skilled trades.
In the third quarter, Southwire presented to IEC membership on a “Roadmap to 12 for Life,” which offered ideas and perspective on how to engage with at-risk students in their communities and potentially provide opportunities through IEC. You may view this webinar at bit.ly/35cC0C3.
So, you can see, we’re growing, and we’re ever-searching, ever-seeking, and ever-committed to create those strong and sustainable solutions that will take us from good to great – both for the present and the future.