No Barriers: Two Climb Wyoming Grads Break Into the Trona Industry

Views
Aubrey Jones, recent Climb Wyoming graduate, on site at Genesis Alkali, where she now works with the maintenance department.

SWEETWATER COUNTY — A few short weeks ago, Climb Wyoming participants were at work in the classroom at Western Wyoming Community College, learning professional office skills ranging from Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks to interpersonal conflict management and telephone etiquette.

Now, for the first time, two Climb graduates are hard at work at Wyoming trona
mines using those skills. Climb has worked closely with industry representatives in the Sweetwater area to create these entirely new partnerships that provide critical training for single mothers looking toward a brighter future.

Donel Krmpotich, recent Climb Wyoming graduate, on site at Tata Chemicals, where she now works with the purchasing department.

Training is the First Step

Climb Wyoming is a non-profit that trains low-income single moms for careers within in-
demand fields—such as truck driving, certified nursing, warehousing, and professional
office careers.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

Those at work in the trona industry know of a computer program called SAP. SAP is an
enterprise resource planning software that incorporates the key business functions of
an organization. The program is widely used in the mining and oil/gas industry.
Those who use SAP regularly acknowledge that it can be extremely difficult to learn for
first-time users.

Fortunately, Genesis Alkali arranged for SAP expert Korey Hollis to give the most recent
Climb group a crash course in the program—a skill that has proven marketable for some
of the graduates already.

Fred von Ahrens, vice president of manufacturing for Genesis Alkali, explained why they
provided this training for Climb. “We wanted to provide education to motivated people
who are looking to get a great start in their careers and have significant needs,” he said.

Climb Wyoming graduate Aubrey Jones at commencement with staff from Genesis Alkali. From left: Fred von Ahrens (Vice President of Manufacturing), Tammy Fennell (Employee Relations Manager), Aubrey Jones, Korey Hollis (Maintenance Systems Planner), and Andre Azevedo (Director of Operations Maintenance).

What It Means to Climb

When it came time to look at their own hiring needs, Genesis Alkali saw an opportunity
in the maintenance department, where they are pushing the needle forward on
innovation.

“In order for manufacturing to be competitive, we need to continue to reinvent ourselves and embrace technology. To do all that, you need very skilled employees. We don’t hire employees to continue doing what we’re doing. We hire employees to help make things better,” said von Ahrens.

A native of the town of Superior, Aubrey Jones was hired on as a temp for the maintenance department, where she is doing data entry that will improve productivity for the entire company.

“It’s challenging—in a good way. It’s stimulating. I am hungry for this knowledge, I’m
motivated to succeed, and this is interesting to me,” said Jones. “Climb has given me
the support, the education, and the confidence that I need to succeed. Climb has given
me the opportunity of a lifetime. My life is forever changed for the better.”

Ryan Greene with Greene’s Energy stepped forward to act as the temp contracting agency which made the hire possible.

Climb Wyoming graduate Donel Krmpotich on site at Tata Chemicals. She has wanted to work out at a mine since she was in high school.

When Support Comes Full Circle

Tata Chemicals saw a need at their company as well for skilled employees. Donel Krmpotich, who hails from Green River, was hired as a temp for the purchasing department at Tata Chemicals.

“The job that we hired Donel for requires fluency in SAP. She answered those questions
directly and did great in the interview,” said Purchasing Supervisor Rich Lyon.

Tata’s President/CEO Scott Ellis said that at Tata Chemicals, they have a long history of
giving back to the community, both locally and worldwide.

“We’re proud to have the opportunity to be associated with the Climb program. We like
giving to those who are in need of help. That’s what the Climb program does — it helps
women and their families come out of poverty,” said John Fackrell, vice president of
manufacturing.

“We’ve supported Climb Wyoming through a number of years, and now we are getting
to see the benefits of it through a hire. That’s a pretty great process,” said Lyon. Prior to Climb, Krmpotich worked cleaning houses and had to dream of getting hired on at one of the mines.

“I worked really hard to get here. Before I didn’t have the training, and now I have the
training they were looking for. It feels very gratifying,” said Krmpotich. “It has changed
my life.”

Hiring a Climb Graduate

The professional office careers program is still looking for businesses to partner with our
motivated and skilled graduates.

For more information about the employer partnership, please contact the Sweetwater
Climb office at 307-382-0771 or email sweetwater@climbwyoming.org.

About Climb Wyoming

The uniquely comprehensive Climb program model was developed in 1986 to help move
single mothers out of poverty. To date, the program has helped more than 2,000
families reach self-sufficiency, the effects of which will be felt for generations to come.
To meet Wyoming’s workforce needs, Climb trains women to enter a variety of
occupations: construction and energy, health care, truck driving, office careers, and
more.

The basis of the Climb model is a job training and placement program, but there is more
to permanent life change than getting a job. Other skills are needed, skills that ensure
successful relationships on the job and in the home. Essential elements of the Climb
model include life skills, parenting skills and mental health services to address personal
barriers that have impeded success in the past.