DECEMBER 12, 2007
(615) 741-2257


NASHVILLE –Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley has awarded the first Jim Alford Memorial Award for Outstanding Incumbent Worker Training to Lennox Hearth Products in Union City, Tenn.  The award publicly acknowledges the outstanding efforts of a Tennessee business that has provided incumbent worker training through the Incumbent Worker Training program. Lennox Hearth Products spent $49,996 to train more than 350 workers in lean manufacturing, SAP technology, industrial maintenance skills, leadership skills, ergonomics and safety awareness.  They are expected to add 100-150 new positions over the next 12 months. 

The Jim Alford Memorial Award is given to companies that enhance job skills and personal development, help to prevent downsizing, create new jobs, prevent relocation while increasing the profitability of the company and improve short-and-long term wage levels of the employees being trained. The award is given in memory of Jim Alford, former director of employer services for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  Alford passed away in 2007.

"I am proud to give this award to Lennox Hearth Products," said Commissioner Neeley.  "This company has shown a dedication to workforce training and keeping jobs in Tennessee.  Jim Alford would have been proud to know his hard work over the years has paid off for Tennesseans with more than 24,000 employees trained resulting from his service as director of the Incumbent Worker Training program."

Dyersburg State Community College played a key role in assisting Lennox Hearth Products in winning the Jim Alford Memorial Award and assisting them with the Incumbent Worker Grant program.

Two other Tennessee employers were named finalists for the award, Domtar in Kingsport and Toho Tenax America, Inc. in Rockwood.  Domtar spent $49,815 in grant money to train 78 workers in DOL apprenticeship, overhead crane inspection, human performance improvement and rail safety and operating practices.   

Toho Tenax America, Inc. spent $20,781 in grant money to train 50 employees in programmable logic controllers, electrical apprenticeship, welding, maintenance and troubleshooting and Six Sigma (Green Belt) training and programming.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Incumbent Worker Training program.  The program has been structured to be flexible to meet the business's training objectives.  The business may use public, private, or its own in-house training provider based on the nature of the training.

The following criteria must be met to qualify for the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Employers must be in operation in Tennessee for at least one year prior to application date.  Employers must have at least five full-time employees, demonstrate financial viability and be current on all state tax obligations.  Funding priority is given to businesses whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff avoidance strategy and represent a significant upgrade of skills.

Alford Award Finalists
Finalists Pictured left to right: Toho Tenax America Inc, President Marc Verbruggen, Vice President Ryoka Miyaski, Training Manager Jamie Nelson, Commissioner James Neeley, Lennox Hearth Products Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Anita Allen, Domtar’s Koren Winters.

Alford Award Winner
Winner: Commissioner James Neeley and Lennox Hearth Products Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Anita Allen

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