How a relatively unknown company in rural Ohio has been able to solve workforce issues with in-house training, tuition reimbursement and local university partnerships. Using these methods, Bullen, a 45-year-old ultrasonic machining company  has been able to make a smooth transition into advanced manufacturing.


On paper, Bullen Ultrasonics in Eaton, Ohio, has the trifecta of workforce challenges: It’s located in a rural area, about a 45-minute drive from Dayton. It’s a small company, lacking name recognition. And to keep up with changing demand, in the past couple of years it’s been through a dramatic shift from manually operated equipment and “pen and paper calculations” to fully automated processes that require specialization.

“The type of people we hire hasn’t changed, but the skill sets we develop are significantly different now,” says Tim Beatty, the company’s president, whose office window looks out at cornfields and more cornfields. “Parts are getting more complex, and what our customers require of us has gotten more complex.”

Where once shop-floor employees might need basic geometry skills, now they need to know programming and design in addition to the intricacies of operating high-tech machining equipment that’s built in-house. Years ago, when Beatty started as a sales rep at Bullen, he had no technical background. “Now most of our customer service folks have to be trained engineers, at least in the initial stages to interact with the design people as they’re developing processes,” he says.


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News, Workforce / Skills Gap