Made in the Stateline: Regal Cutting Tools

ROCKFORD - The struggle to find quality workers is real for local manufacturers.

The issue is nothing new.  But, Regal Cutting Tools in Roscoe is trying to solve that problem.  The company says there are no job shortages.  The shortage is in qualified people who want to work in manufacturing.  Its forced the company to get creative when it comes to hiring.

Managers can't just put up signs on the street or an advertisement in the newspaper and have a flock of people come to apply.  It's one reason Regal teamed up with a couple of local high schools.

"We couldn't do it without Regal," said Hononegah Assoc. Principal Chad Dougherty.

The company's been a part of Hononegah High School's Workplace Readiness Program for years.  There's job shadowing involved and training workshops.  But, it really focuses on some of the "soft" skills that make students competitive when they apply for jobs.

"Collaboration on time behavior, commitment, problem solving, we provide students feedback on these things every single semester," said Dougherty.  "Regal Cutting Tools has been there from the beginning to help develop what these standards are."

Regal is also very involved in Beloit Memorial High School's technical programs, providing mentorship, summer apprenticeships, and internships.  The success of the program with Regal and other companies involved created its own problem.

"I never have enough students to make my level three machining class run," said Machining and Welding Instructor at Beloit Memorial High School.  "The reason why is because they're pilfered off the machining two class to work for these different companies.  It's an excellent sign of demand."

The demand is certainly there at Regal Cutting Tools.

As the name implies, Regal produces tools used to cut metal, called taps.  Those taps are  used in a wide range of industries from automotive, to aerospace, to appliances, basically anywhere there's a threaded hole.  The taps can be many different sizes.

While Regal has products in stock and ready to ship.  It's real bread and butter is a 24 hour turnaround on specialized parts made from scratch.  Its been that way since 1955.  The focus forces workers to be flexible and take pride in their work.

Regal Cutting Tools really focuses on promoting within.  There are people there now who started in entry level positions out of high school and worked their way up to being high level managers.

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