Rengo Packaging, Incorporated is a corrugated packaging manufacturer that specializes in custom-design packaging systems. They’re located in Kapolei, Hawaii and have fantastic management, employees, and a rock-star HR/AC/Administration/IT Manager, Manu Bermudes.
Rengo partnered with Convergence Training some years ago and since they began with us have used a number of our products and services, including our Contractor LMS, our flagship Convergence LMS, our online courses for corrugated packaging manufacturing (known as “Box Plant Basics”), and additional online training courses on safety and manufacturing topics.
Manu was kind enough to take some time from her very busy schedule to talk with us about her experience using Convergence Training products and working with Convergence on the development of the training program at Rengo. As you’ll see, Manu’s a powerhouse and a special person, and we had nothing but a great time working with her.
Check out the interview below and be ready to be inspired by Manu and by everyone at Rengo.
A Personal Commitment to Employee Training
Although Manu is an HR manager who wears many hats (including Administration and IT), she’s most excited about the training aspect of her job.
Manu explains her commitment to training:
The training and workforce development is an area that I personally am passionate about because I don’t think that there is ever enough training opportunities for an employee in order for them to grow professionally. And also, it gives us the ability to provide them with as much knowledge as possible. That makes them more valuable to us.
As L&D professionals ourselves, we admire Manu’s passion for training and helping employees further their careers. Hats off to Manu.
First Impressions of Convergence & Our LMS
Manu was solely responsible for implementing the Convergence LMS (for employees) and Contractor LMS (for contractors), along with the actual training programs, at Rengo, and she admits she was a bit intimidated at first. But this went away quickly as she discovered how easy it was to use the LMS and online training courses.
As Manu explains:
At first, I was kind of intimidated by it because I had no knowledge of it. And then when you came on board and we went through the training, I felt much more comfortable in working in the system.
I think it’s an awesome tool. It is user-friendly. There is so much you can do if you’re creative with the training or if you want to create your own training.
I can’t speak volumes enough about this system. [Coming from being a DOD contractor at a former job] to working at a significantly smaller business and seeing what this tool can actually do, all I can say is that it’s just awesome.
She was also impressed with the quality of the online training courses we provided to Rengo with the LMS:
I had never, ever gone through any form of training from a computer-based system that was just so realistic. And I guess I really got excited when I saw it. Like I said, I had never, ever in my life seen anything like it. And I’ve seen a lot of training programs and materials etcetera. But I got to say this was—to me—the best investment that the company could have ever made in terms of training.
Before long, she was excited with the flexibility of the system and the power it gave her:
It allows you to do what you need it to do aside from what you actually purchased it for. So it’s not just something where you can say okay, quick—I got to watch another video. It can be really creative. The more time I spent in the system, the more amazed I was in terms of what it could do for us.
Great Implementation Support and Continued Follow-Through
Manu appreciates that Convergence Training has been “there” with her every step of the way—from arriving at her site for in-person administrative LMS training on her earliest days on the job to providing ongoing tech and implementation support as her needs developed and grew. As she explains:
It’s amazing. I can’t speak enough about it. The support I get from you and the team there has been amazing. I just appreciate it that I know that if I ever call with any questions, I’m going to get the support that I need. I think that also speaks volumes as well. You’re dealing with a live person and you’re dealing with someone who is very receptive. This system is amazing and I just appreciate your time.
No, no, Manu–it’s we who appreciate you! Thanks so much.
Facilitating New Employee Onboarding
Rengo was a new company when Manu started her job and when they began to use the learning solutions from Convergence. At first, they used the Contractor LMS to delivery safety orientations to contractors building their site.
Once the site was built, they hired new employees, most of whom had no experience in the corrugated industry, and she began using the Convergence LMS and online corrugated manufacturing training courses to onboard the new hires.
Manu loves how much the LMS and courses helped with the onboarding:
I just can’t speak enough about the role that it’s played in the orientation process that I held. I had a three-day orientation with all of the new employees doing each onboarding process. They get a better understanding as to how the intake comes, how the intake is done, and then all the way through when the product is completed.
It’s a key part…of our onboarding process and of exposing people—especially the ones who don’t have the background specifically of manufacturing. But when you have the box plant basics online courses on there, it’s just an eye-opener.
This was new to me, too, and these online training courses about corrugated manufacturing helped me open up my eyes to truly what it is that we do and I think it’s done the same for all of the people that have been part of this company as well.
Next, More Specific Job Training
After the onboarding process was complete, she began using the LMS and online training courses for more detailed job training requirements:
Like I said earlier, it is hard to find people who have the knowledge and background of manufacturing—specifically, corrugated boxing. And so what we do is we rely heavily on the training that we provide them. This allows us to get much more into detail in terms of what the employee can expect in that position, how to deal with issues that might come up in terms of if there is a jam or if there is a quality issue. It allows us to really drill down into detail as to what the person can expect in their respective role and how to either deal with it or address the issue and/or what additional resources or alternatives can be identified to help resolve the issue.
Here’s how Manu explains the process of creating this training:
I work collaboratively with our production managers and supervisors at identifying online training courses specific to their departments, the employee’s roles and what their responsibilities include. So I try to work with them and build a training module in terms of what we can do to identify the best way of exposing our employees to what the expectation is to their roles and responsibilities.
Better Safety Training
Rengo also uses the LMS and e-learning courses for safety training. And Manu believes it’s played a big role in their having zero safety incidents to date:
I would say that this LMS has contributed to our zero safety incidents since we’ve opened. We’ve had no recorded falls. We’ve had only first-aid injuries that have been sustained here, which were minor.
I want to say that it opens up a person’s eyes in terms of working safely. Because of the type of equipment that we use, I honestly don’t think that people are well aware of what can be put at risk in the event that they’re not working in a safe environment. So it does allow us to continuously drive the safety message where safety has evolved to become more of a culture and not just something that we’re always ramming down their throats. So if they have any questions or there is a situation where, let’s say, a lockout/tagout employee didn’t do the process correctly, the first thing we do in terms of addressing that is we provide them individual training and we provide them a refresher from using the LMS system.
Employee Reaction to the New Online Training
As we’ve seen, Manu loves the training solutions, and we’re happy to say the employees join her in that:
The feedback that I got from the employees that were exposed to this was just amazing. We’ve never had this kind of training before. The online training courses are very awesome.
Creating a Better Safety Culture
Manu also believes the LMS and the eLearning courses have helped to create a better safety culture at Rengo.
As she explains:
I think our employees’ involvement in safety and safety culture is more proactive now. I think they’re taking more pride into working safely. It’s allowed us to actually identify how these machines—how serious they can be.
The overall goal at the end of the day is we want you to be able to go home to your families and to your children and allow them another opportunity to see you again and allow us an opportunity to wake up and come back to work the next day and do it all over again.
We all have learned how to live and breathe it and we all have a responsibility to look out for each other’s safety and I believe the system that we have helps us accomplish that. It’s not just, “Oh, I see you doing something unsafe and I’m not going to say anything about it.” It makes sure that we are living this culture and that we’re all responsible for each other’s safety. And at the end of the day, there is one overall goal is that we provided a safe work environment for our employees. That our employees feel comfortable coming to work, working in a safe environment, knowing that we all kind of just have each other’s back.
So it kind of stresses home not just a safety culture, but it makes us feel as if we’re much more involved with each other. Not just from an employer-to-employee perspective, but actually, it kind of takes it down to almost a personal level in terms of if I see something unsafe, I’m going to call it out and I’m going to make sure that I bring it to your attention, what the issue was and what we need to do to address it.
So it has helped us. It has contributed to this evolving culture where there were safety concerns because of how the employees were working in their respective areas without understanding the actual details of the position and details of the machines.
Praise from HIOSH Auditor
Having an LMS that allows Rengo to set up a comprehensive safety training assignments, and keep records of all training completions, helped out Rengo big-time during a recent inspection from HIOSH (Hawaii’s state-level equivalent of OSHA):
Here’s how Manu tells the story:
We just went through a HIOSH walkthrough. HIOSH is our local OSHA—our state OSHA branch. And they came in unexpectedly because we had a disgruntled employee who we dealt with and obviously, they ended up filing a complaint that we weren’t providing a safe work environment.
And when HI-OSH came in, they took a tour of our facility. We worked very closely with them. We developed a relationship with them. But I think the most awesome thing about it was I had built them a temporary login or profile in the LMS for them to use because they had inquired, you know, how much do we invest in our training in our employees? What type of training do we provide to our employees? And I was just like okay, that’s my cue.
And so what I did was I built a temporary account for them and allowed them thirty days to go in and actually look at the system that we currently use, what we’ve invested in, and everything else that they can do. And one of the first calls that I got back from the inspector was “I can’t believe you guys are using this system. This is just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. You know, if there were more companies that invested this much in their employees and providing the training, then we wouldn’t be in a position where we would have to go and audit every year to ensure that you’re providing the required training. You have a training plan that you identify the topics that they should be doing every three months, every six months, and every year!”
And so it was just so awesome to get that feedback, especially from an inspector from HIOSH because when you get an inspector that comes in, it’s almost as if everybody’s like “Oh, crap—we’re dead.” And that wasn’t the situation at all. So getting that feedback from him just gave me self-validation that we did the right thing in investing in this system and the program. It’s really exciting, especially when you get feedback like that.
Helping to Identify Other Job Training Needs
Manu knew when Rengo implemented the Convergence LMS that they wanted to begin with onboarding training, corrugated manufacturing training, safety training, and some HR training. But she says the process has helped her identify other training needs as well, and she’s always excited to learn through our monthly newsletters and the Convergence Training blog of new courses available from Convergence Training.
Here’s how Manu puts it:
Looking back now and looking at how far we’ve come, I think the system has helped us evolve in identifying additional training topics that we will need.
So a lot of the training topics that we have—initially, when we started the program—was just the twenty core courses that we chose. But now, I see additional topics coming out in terms of focusing on maintenance and welding and stuff like that.
And I’ve got to tell you, each time I get some kind of email about the LMS, I get excited because I think “Oh, what else is there that we can look at? What else is there that we can use to train our employees, to provide our employees? What else do I see that I can use in forecasting topics in terms of areas that we are looking at developing within our own organization?” I start to get excited about it because I see how awesome this system is.
Using The LMS As a Company Communication Tool
Because Rengo is a smaller company, Manu’s made creative use of the LMS as a corporate communication tool as well.
As she explains:
It lets you be really creative. The amazing thing about it is how it not only delivers the training, but also how it allows you to be creative with it in terms of what you want to do with it. You can create your own training. You can do your own videos. And then, you can also use it for things that might be non-training specific if that makes any sense.
I also use it for employee announcements in terms of providing a newsletter. Every month, I work on a newsletter and I upload it into LMS and I do a mass email blast to all of our employees and they can access that newsletter by using their specific login and password. Any type of updates, announcements.
We’ve just gone through our open enrollment so I constantly use that to provide changes in terms of our benefit plans that we’re offering. So it allows me an opportunity to communicate with the form of communication that I like to use specifically with our production employees because they work a different shift (seven a.m. to three p.m.). So it allows them to read things, keep updated about the company, and get announcements about changes in the organization at their own leisure.
And it’s just allowed me to use it in ways that I initially didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. But like I said, as I started to go into the system and look at things and think “Oh yeah, I can create my own flyer. I can create my own announcement and everything else.” And we just uploaded things into the system and it was a way that we could keep employees abreast of changes, upcoming events, important announcements.
Next Steps for Rengo Packaging
When asked what’s next for training at Rengo, Manu explained they’ll be using the LMS to transfer information from more experienced employees to less experienced employees.
As she explains:
It’s funny you ask that, because the next area that we want to focus on is doing videos of employees in key positions that have the relevant background and experience in key, important topics. It’s almost as if a how-to type of video where you have the employee there explaining about the machine and each respective area of the machine and what the function of the machines are. And then also what the roles and responsibilities for, let’s say, an operator, and then you have an assistant operator, and then you have a support or general labor there.
So it’s almost as if, I would like to say, what we’re kind of thinking of is doing our own little video in the event—it’s kind of like a how-to video. Rather than just being exposed to the machine and what the machine does, it’s almost kind of supporting the JSA part of it; it’s a job safety analysis part of a person’s position that we want to focus on.
Providing Local Jobs & Supporting the Economy
Manu feels that the training tools from Convergence Training were one of several things that helped Rengo provide local jobs to workers in Hawaii:
We were able to build this amazing facility to provide jobs to the community. To the local people. And as long as we could find people who were motivated and inspired to work, then the technical skills—that’s all teachable. You can train that part.
But it was just finding people who were the right fit, who were eager to come into something new, and since then, we have hired—I think from the time that I started to the end of April, we had hired potentially thirty-five employees within maybe a six to eight-week time.
We here at Convergence are always excited to partner with great people like Manu, great forward-thinking companies like Rengo to help great workers like the employees at Rengo develop job skills and stay safe at work, so nothing could make us happier than to read Manu’s comments above.
A Satisfied Customer—It’s “Beast Mode”
Manu’s a happy customer. If you haven’t picked up on that already, you will soon:
I love this thing. I can’t tell you how impressed I am and I continued to be with this system. It’s almost like I’m so passionate about this system that I end up driving people nuts here.
I just get so excited about this and I’m just so passionate about it that I can’t pinpoint or focus on one thing when it comes to this system. Yes, the training is awesome. The videos are awesome. And the expansion of titles that I’m always looking to explore. So I love it.
I literally can’t get enough of it and I think training, workforce development, organizational development, succession planning—this is a core feature in terms of allowing employees to grow within an organization. Not just personally but also professionally. Knowledge is power. You hear that a lot and I haven’t said it in quite a while until I came across this system. Knowledge is power and there is never enough training you could ever provide to any one person and this is it. It’s amazing. What you guys did—this is unbelievable. Unbelievable.
It’s beast mode, is what I refer it to.
Thanks for your time and your passion, Manu. We think YOU’RE “BEAST MODE.”
We wish the best to you and to all the employees at Rengo.
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