Candid Conversations with Nicole Nettesheim from SussexIM: Talent

SussexIM has been a leader in custom injection molding since 1977. Today Nicole Nettesheim, HR Generalist at SussexIM gives us insight on the perception of manufacturing - including her own personal outlook before entering the industry - and the most effective strategies for attracting and retaining key talent. She also touches on SussexIM's culture and how culture can shift the perception of manufacturing among millennials, youth, and women. 

Talent attraction and retention initiatives

In the manufacturing space, talent attraction and retention is something we hear a lot about. There are a lot of challenges but there are many opportunities as well — especially here in southeastern Wisconsin. Despite the low unemployment rate and competitive hiring landscape, SussexIM is still growing rapidly.

To keep up with the growth, Nicole and her team are focusing on building relationships with schools in the area to attract and retain talent. Specifically, “We're really looking to build relationships at local high schools, WCTC, and more of the technical colleges to build our employees from the ground up.” Nicole mentioned that she often connects with high school students that aren't interested in going to a four-year college, but also seeks out college students and young professionals who are just interested in a complete career change.

Often accompanied by another team member in a more technical role during school visits, the SussexIM team speaks to students about on-the-floor experience and answers questions about company culture and employee benefits. As a woman in the manufacturing industry, Nicole and her team meet face-to-face with many people who have a certain perception about the industry and the people that work in it. These conversations help SussexIM become more relatable as a company and dispute any negative stereotypes. 


Showcasing the SussexIM culture

With business growth comes the need to strengthen your online presence. Not only to keep top of mind for potential customers but to appeal to potential talent by displaying company culture, achievements, and updates.

Having just launched a new user friendly website, Nicole and her marketing team are working hard to showcase employee events and news on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Their next step is to fully develop the career page so that anyone searching for job openings will get an in-depth look at what it’s like to work at SussexIM.

However, as with many manufacturing companies we’ve talked with, the day-to-day team culture is truly what turns people into loyalists who spread the word about where they work. According to Nicole, “One of the biggest things about SussexIM that I think is amazing is our company culture. We have a about 63 people in our 25 year club and we just had two people join our 40 year club. We recognize people's loyal service.”

That recognition shows in recruitment efforts as well. Nicole noted, “Word-of-mouth is definitely our biggest recruitment method, there's no doubt about that. We could post a job online and we’re going to get more referral applicants from employees that are already working here.”


Changing the perception around manufacturing

Coming from a healthcare background, Nicole had an outlook that aligns with a common misconception about the manufacturing industry. She imagined an industry of grueling, unregulated labor but was blown away in her interview with SussexIM and has since been learning what it really means to work as a woman in manufacturing.

Now, she wants to work towards changing the perception of what it means to work in this industry for others. “The automation, the robotics, it's fascinating honestly. All these things that these machines can do in such a short amount of time, it's incredible. It really is. I think that manufacturing does need a little bit more marketing because people need to be able to see that.”

Her enthusiasm to change the way people think about manufacturing will help propel SussexIM’s talent initiatives as they continue to build relationship with local schools and change the narrative around options for kids after high-school and alternatives to a four year college.

Thank you for joining us for today's candid conversation! We’ll be back soon with another, keep an eye out here.

Post by: Katie Felten

As a Digital Strategist and Co-Founder of Strategy House, Katie serves as our team visionary. She works directly with executive teams, participating in strategy meetings, and translating the vision for growth into clear brand strategies that align with their growth goals.