Firstronic, an electronic manufacturer based in Grand Rapids, assembles printed circuit boards for the medical, industrial, automotive and LED industries.

The company has seen steady growth over the past seven years, increasing revenue from $7 million to $70 million and growing from less than 50 employees to nearly 200.

To address a lack of trained, qualified workers — the result of many electronic manufacturers moving production overseas — Firstronic developed an internal training program.

The program gives employees the opportunity to grow with the company and earn various industry certifications. Firstronic President and CEO John Sammut credits the training program for the company’s efficiency and success.

“To remain competitive and highly efficient, we needed to increase the flexibility of our workforce by cross-training them in as many functions as possible,” said Sammut.

“Our workers are capable of performing multiple functions in a ‘high velocity throughput’ environment. They are not only very skilled, but they are very employable no matter where they choose to work.”

Firstronic has utilized funds from Michigan’s Going PRO Talent Fund to help it achieve its training objectives.

Going PRO funds are awarded to employers for short-term training for new or existing employees. The training must lead to a credential that is recognized by the industry.

With funds from its 2018 award, Firstronic trained 41 employees and hired 29 employees.

This year, Firstronic hopes to achieve certification for 100 percent of its employees, which is uncommon in the electronic manufacturing industry because of the ongoing expense of achieving and maintaining high-level certifications for employees.

A highly-skilled workforce has allowed Firstronic to be more competitive in a global industry. The investment in employee training has also led to a much higher retention rate.

“Our turnover has been reduced significantly over the past two years from over 25 percent to less than three percent,” said Sammut

Employers who are interested in submitting applications for the 2020 Going PRO funding cycle can attend an information session at a West Michigan Works service center. Dates and locations are listed at: