Tapani Sisters of Wyoming Machine show the way on closing the skills gap

Up in Stacy, Minnesota, the Tapani sisters—Lori and Traci—are blazing a trail in workforce development. The two are the co-owners and co-presidents of Wyoming Machine.

This spring, the Tapanis won the National Association of Workforce Boards’ (NAWB) prestigious business leadership award in Washington, D.C., for their work in developing the workforce and economy of Washington County and other Minnesota communities.

They were in remarkable company. The other company so honored was national behemoth Lockheed Martin.

The award honored the Tapanis for their “ardent commitment” to training and enhancing workforce skills in manufacturing. According to the Star Tribune,

In nominating the sisters, Washington County workforce Center Division Manager Robert Crawford noted the many programs the sisters created to teach untrained, young adults and women metal working, assembly, shipping and receiving and other manufacturing skills now in short supply in factories across the state.

‘From building partnerships with local colleges and technical schools, to securing Department of Labor education grants [that] fund customized training on specialized equipment, to serving on foundation boards and hosting career day events, Lori and Traci Tapani have given generously of their time and provided strong regional leadership to build manufacturing skills in Minnesota.’

The Tapanis began their training efforts years ago—seeking out students, sales clerks, former restaurant workers and others and helping them become skilled manufacturing workers. Traci Tapani told the Star Tribune that

We have grown many high school graduates and under and unemployed individuals into exceptional employees who are successfully trained to operate highly technical equipment or fill leadership roles in the company. Envisioning the middle-skill job shortage, many years ago we began reaching out to youth and girls, in particular, to enlighten them about today’s manufacturing environment and the good-paying jobs awaiting them.

Bravo, Lori and Traci. You have laid down a path that other state businesses can follow, to the benefit of all the people of Minnesota.