Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

May 24, 2014

SWGTC, Flowers partner to meet need

THOMASVILLE — Southwest Georgia Technical College (SWGTC) collaborated with Flowers Foods to develop a new program to resolve a workforce need.  

Flowers Foods, headquartered in Thomasville, is the second-largest baking company in the U.S. with more than 45 bakeries.

Dennis Lee, SWGTC vice president of Economic Development, commented, “At SWGTC, we strive not only to be a strong community partner to local businesses and organizations, but also to serve as a resource. When Flowers approached us, we were happy to collaborate with them on this project, and it just made sense. They had an employment obstacle to overcome and {part of} our mission is to meet the workforce needs of our local business and industry. It was a no-brainer.”

The Manufacturing Maintenance Specialist Technical Certificate of Credit (TCC) was custom-created by SWGTC in order to produce skilled technicians to fill necessary maintenance positions.

“There is a shortage of individuals with the skills needed to operate and maintain the sophisticated computerized equipment used in our bakeries, and we decided to take a proactive approach to dealing with the problem,”  said Leny Garcia-Hill, Flowers Foods vice president of Human Resources and Diversity.

This collaboration began with Flowers Baking Company of Thomasville, a Flowers Foods subsidiary, establishing which skills were vital and most pertinent to a maintenance technician.  After a desired skill set was defined, SWGTC utilized that information to identify learning objectives that would be necessary for the program. SWGTC designed curriculum based on those objectives, resulting in a customized program.

The majority of the program’s coursework is centered on industrial electrical technology. Students can expect to take classes such as electric motors, industrial PLCs (programmable logic controllers), direct current, and electrical controls. Additionally, the program will equip program graduates with the basics of welding and hydraulic systems.

The opportunity to do an apprenticeship with Flowers’ Thomasville bakery will be available to select students enrolled in the Manufacturing Maintenance Specialist TCC.  Those students selected to participate in the apprenticeship will have part-time positions in the bakery while in school.

Although originally developed specifically for Flowers, SWGTC said this program will also be open to students not affiliated with the company.

“This program would be beneficial to any student interested in a career as a manufacturing maintenance technician. It will provide graduates with an opportunity to learn skills that would not only apply at Flowers, but in any organization with manufacturing equipment,” added Lee.

Flowers Baking Company of Thomasville offers an employee tuition reimbursement and book allowance program that will be available to help with college-related costs.

“Flowers has a culture that promotes career growth. We will spread the word about this new program to our team members and encourage them to advance their careers,” added Garcia-Hill.

The new program is scheduled to launch in the SWGTC’s Fall Semester 2014, which begins Aug. 19. For more information, contact Abigail Carter, SWGTC dean for Academic Affairs, at (229) 227-3177 or

SWGTC offers more than 80 certificate, diploma, and degree programs. Many of these programs provide training for some of the nation’s fastest-growing career fields including Nursing, Automotive Technology, Clinical Laboratory Technology, and Emergency Medical Technology. More information may be obtained by calling 229-225-4096 or by logging onto


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