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Earning High Praise from Local Industry Leaders

Defense Industry Career Transition Center of Southeast Michigan

Since 1987, Burtek Enterprises has served the most demanding customers in the military and defense industries with distinction and pride. When, in November of 2016, Burtek’s ownership made the difficult decision to cease all manufacturing operations in Chesterfield, Michigan, the announcement was greeted with surprise and understandable disappointment from our customer base, our supply base, and our loyal employees. It was left to my management team to develop and execute a managed wind-down plan that took into consideration the requirements and unique needs of all stakeholders in the business.

Personally, I saw our two most important – and most challenging – objectives as completing as much of our backlog as reasonably possible during our wind-down period while helping customers transfer their remaining contracts to a new manufacturer, and helping all Burtek employees find their next job with a new employer. As most of our employees had been with Burtek for many years, they were understandably nervous about the job search process. From creating a new or revised resume to finding new opportunities, our goal was to help every employee successful transition to their next position. Understanding this, our management team was determined and committed to assist them in every way we could. As part of our strategy for achieving this goal, we turned to the Defense Industry Career Transition Center of Southeast Michigan for help. I am writing today to express my profound appreciation for the help we received in that time of need.

From their first visit to our facility, the entire team from the Defense Industry Career Transition Center worked selflessly to engage and mesh with our team. Our goals and objectives became their goals and objectives. We shared with them what we were seeking to accomplish, and the importance of helping our employees through each step of the process while hopefully avoiding a mass exodus after we announced the plant closure. Mike Draheim, Janice Loftis, Michelle Ruegsegger and Paige McCormack helped us define and refine our strategy, and they were essential in developing an execution plan that would have the greatest impact possible on our situation. Over the course of several weeks, the DICTC team met with our employees, assisted them with resume writing and refreshing, informed them of specific programs that might be of benefit to them, and worked individually with them to improve their interviewing skills and confidence.

We arranged job fairs to be held in our manufacturing facility, and invited hiring managers from companies throughout our area that were seeking qualified candidates with the skills and experience our employees possessed. Over four separate days, a total of almost seventy companies participated, each simply agreeing not to hire our employee until after their assigned end date with Burtek. Your team was there each and every day, providing assistance and encouragement along the way.

Almost every employee received one or more job offers as a result of these efforts, and virtually every employee had a new job with a new employer starting immediately after their work was finished at Burtek. In the end, our plan worked better than we had ever imagined it could. And we absolutely could not have done it without the help of Mike, Janice, Michelle and Paige and the resources of the Defense Indus-try Career Transition Center of Southeast Michigan. I will be forever in their debt for their empathy, passion, commitment and professionalism.

I  suspect many companies throughout Michigan may not even be fully aware of the outstanding and important work your organization does to help businesses and their employees manage through change. While I am obviously disappointed to have to manage the wind-down of Burtek Enterprises, I am truly thankful the Defense Industry Career Transition Center was there to help me and everyone in our organization. You have an outstanding team of talented and motivated professionals working in Southeast Michigan. On behalf of everyone with Burtek Enterprises that benefited so greatly from their help, I hope this letter shines a very positive light on the work being accomplished each and every day.

Admittedly, I am not entirely sure where the funding comes from for all the valuable services your team provides. But I know such funding is probably always under some scrutiny. Please let me know if there is some way I can share Burtek’s story so that it might benefit your activities and initiatives. If you should have any questions, or if I can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Submitted by James Sampson Chief Operating Office of Burtek Enterprises