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Northwest Michigan Works! Helps Phillips Lifestyles Train Employees

June 20, 2024
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Phillips Lifestyles in Traverse City has been Northern Michigan’s premiere spa and fireplace dealer since 1980. The company sells, installs and services hot tubs, fireplaces, stoves, billiards tables, and saunas. When the staff at Phillips Lifestyles was getting ready to train some new employees, they connected with the Northwest Michigan Works! Business Services team and found out about the On-the-Job Training program or OJT. The program can cover part of an employee’s pay while they’re being trained.

“It’s costly to train people, said Tony Fifarek of Phillips Lifestyles. "Having the On-the-Job Training that Michigan Works! provides makes it so that instead of being a business that’s trying to solely handle all of the costs of being able to bring people up to speed, we’re getting help from Michigan Works! so that they can actually help this company train people in the industry that we’re in.”

After working with Phillips Lifestyles on the OJT program, the Business Services team thought the company would also be a perfect fit for an apprenticeship program. The Northwest Michigan Works! Apprenticeship Services team worked with Phillips Lifestyles to develop a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship program for fireplace installers. The program will give employees a way to earn a nationally recognized certification in fireplace installation.

“This is actually breaking new ground," said Fifarek. "We’ll be able to have people getting trained in a specific program so that people can be reassured when they’re buying something or having our company put it in, that they’re doing it properly. There’s going to be a standard that can be met and we’ll be expected to hit that standard.” 

The development of the Apprenticeship program and the success with OJT has lead Phillips Lifestyles to work with Northwest Michigan Works! on other programs that can help them meet their employee training needs, including applying for a grant from the State’s Going PRO Talent Fund.

“There’s only a specific amount of time to be able to bring people up to snuff when it comes to the training," said Fifarek. "By having Michigan Works! available to help us with that, we’re going to be able to free up more time to do other things that actually are necessary to be able to keep a business like this going.”

Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager