PGT Innovations, a national leader in the premium window and door category, recently hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Coopey World, its on-site training center for new hires and local students.
The Venice-based company named the center after the late George Coopey, a longtime leader and team member who started the organization’s first hands-on training program back in the 1990s.
“We named Coopey World after George because training was his passion,” said Jeff Jackson, PGT Innovations president and CEO. “The main purpose of the space is to provide a controlled learning environment for new production team members at our Venice campus. In Coopey World, they can learn about their new manufacturing roles in a setting without pressure and have the opportunity for hands-on training before they step onto the production floor.”
Coopey’s wife, Mary, who has worked at PGTI for 40 years in various roles, was present at the ceremony and received a plaque in her husband’s honor.
“George was a fun-loving person who loved people, loved teaching, and loved working at PGT,” said Mary Coopey. “For the company to do something like this in his name — to remember one of their own and have something like this — is just awesome, and I’m sure he’d be thrilled.”
The Coopey World training center is located on PGTI’s expansive campus at 104 Triple Diamond Boulevard in North Venice. The facility is 1,971 square feet with 24 desks, presentation equipment, an upcut saw, die/fabrication machine, and frame assembly tables.
All new PGTI production team members based on the Venice campus will complete their orientation and spend three days training at Coopey World before heading to the manufacturing floor in various roles.
“We have always believed in investing in our team members, but specifically with our production team members, it’s imperative that we provide them with the skills and training necessary to be safe and effective in their positions,” said Debbie LaPinska, PGT Innovations chief HR officer. “George Coopey knew that and demonstrated his commitment to that idea with team members on his own manufacturing lines. He was an incredible example of our company’s culture of care and innovation, and he is a legacy here. We’re proud to be able to honor that legacy with this facility.”
Coopey World is also the location where local high school students begin their mentorship program through the Pathway to PGTI program. Three Venice High School students are currently going through the program.
“The shortage of talent, especially in the manufacturing sector, is a real concern,” said Jackson. “To keep up with the growth and the demand for our products, we knew we had to find a way to foster interest in manufacturing roles and help people gain the needed skills. Through our partnership with the school system, we were able to establish a program that focuses on skilled trade, and Pathway to PGTI was born.”
The program includes initial classroom training at PGTI’s Coopey World, and then the students spend 75 minutes of their school day, Monday through Friday, at PGTI’s Venice campus working alongside a skilled mentor.
"The purpose of Pathway to PGTI is for high school juniors and seniors to develop skilled trade experience while still in school,” said LaPinska. “These students are able to receive a technical education path, guided training, and an attainable employment opportunity after graduation. If they do decide to join our team, they’re also encouraged to continue their education or training through our tuition reimbursement program.”