MRO Magazine

Training courses for industrial distribution being established in Canada and U.S.

Chicago, IL -- The Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) Educational & Scholastic Foundation is celebr...


November 27, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Chicago, IL — The Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) Educational & Scholastic Foundation is celebrating the achievement of several major milestones in its mission to address the industrial distribution channel’s need for entry-level employees with industry-specific skills and knowledge.

Through its landmark initiative to introduce an industrial distribution curriculum at community colleges throughout the United States and Canada, the foundation is working to:

– Recruit entry-level employees to the industrial distribution channel
– Develop programs to teach business, technical and distribution basics
– Create affordable resources for current employee development.

Highlights of the foundation’s accomplishments in 2003 include:


– Enrolling the first students in Industrial Distribution certificates at pilot programs in Detroit and Omaha.
– Expanding support of the initiative to 10 distribution associations to ensure successful placement of all program graduates.
– Hiring a project manager with proven success at launching curriculum and securing private and government grants.

The underpinning of the curriculum is a major analysis of the essential qualities of successful inside and outside distributor sales personnel. Based on extensive research with distributor salespeople, this assessment identifies the critical competencies for success and lays out a logical learning progression of needed classwork and on-the-job training.

To enhance the attractiveness of the curriculum to its educational partners, and based on the experience of others who have launched similar programs, the foundation’s goal is to use each college’s existing catalogue to the extent possible. Rather than providing a set curriculum with detailed course outlines and materials, the foundation has defined the desired competencies and will work with each school to determine which available courses will best deliver the needed education.

Students began enrolling at Henry Ford Community College in Detroit in August 2003; more will enrol at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha starting in December. At both locations, the curriculum draws from existing business and technical classes, and includes a new Introduction to Distribution course developed with input from local distributors.

Building support across the industrial distribution channel is critical to demonstrate to potential school partners that sufficient employers will sustain these programs. Given the tremendous overlap in job activities across the full spectrum of industrial distribution, the foundation has aligned with other organizations that serve this industry to make the curriculum as widely applicable as possible.

Together with the PTDA, the foundation has partnered with the Association for High Technology Distribution (AHTD, Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA), Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GWDA), Industrial Distribution Association (IDA), International Association of Plastics Distributors (IAPD), International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), National Fastener Distributors Association (NFDA) and the Safety Equipment Distributors Association (SADA).

In May 2003, the foundation hired a project manager, Joan Cook, to research and apply for grants, identify target locations, market the program to potential schools, build support with local distributors and manufacturers, and oversee implementation of the curriculum at each school. Cook has 27 years experience in workforce development for manufacturing, with an emphasis on competency-based, employer-driven programs. She had launched a similar, successful program for the precision metalforming industry.

The foundation is committed to promoting the finalized curriculum to community colleges and vocational-technical schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, with a target of four new pilot sites in the United States and two in Canada in 2004. Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, has been identified as the next pilot site.

For more information on the foundation’s initiatives, contact executive director Stephanie Kaplan (312-876-9461; or model curriculum project manager Joan Cook (330-825-5836;

The PTDA Educational & Scholastic Foundation, whose work is funded solely by donations, was founded in 1982 to enhance knowledge, education, professionalism and productivity within the power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) industry. For more information, visit