Every time you eat a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast, you’re getting a taste of what Epic Machine in Fenton is all about.
This local manufacturer makes the rollers that roll out this popular cereal brand, as well as a number of other products in your life every day — from vacuum molds for McDonald’s drink lids to tooling components for fire hydrants and manhole covers.
Epic Machine has been manufacturing high precision-machined components for industries worldwide since 1979, utilizing CNC (Computer-Numerical-Controlled) turning, CNC milling and precision grinding equipment. Their customers include foundries, military contracts, the food industry, medical supplies and more.
The company was founded by Nick Popa of Fenton who learned the manufacturing trade at Henry Ford Trade School from 1943 to 1947. He was directly taught machining by Henry Ford instructors.
Epic Machine CEO Mike Parker founded Epic CNC Training Academy in 2013, working with the state of Michigan to develop a re-education and training program. He was taught as an OJT (on the job training) employee when he was 18 and now he is the CEO. “Our goal is to bring skilled, trained tradespeople back into Michigan’s manufacturing industry after the state’s Great Recession,” Parker said.
Epic CNC Training Academy is hosting an Open House and tours Friday, Oct. 4, in recognition of National Manufacturing Day. Their goal is to show the public how students can learn a trade that will result in a good-paying career, after just one eight-week session.
Open house hours will be 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Epic Machine, at 201 Industrial Way, Fenton.
“The median wage for a machinist is about $20 per hour,” Parker said. “However, it’s all based on a person’s skill level. The more skill you bring to the table, the more money you’ll make.”
Epic CNC Training Academy runs four sessions per year and up to four students per session.
“We focus on quality over quantity in our focused, hands-on training,” said Melinda Keway, academy director.
“It’s a 40-hour week for our students. They are totally immersed in learning computer operated equipment. When a student is done with the session, he or she will be proficient and confident in their skills, and will be ready to meet the needs of an employer as an entry level skilled tradesperson.”
How do you know if a skilled trade in the manufacturing industry is the career for you? “If you’re good at math and mechanically inclined,” this might be a good fit for you,” Keway said. “You also must be 18 years old or older. The majority of our students are in their mid-20s and have come to us after trying a different career path and realizing they want to do something different with their lives.”
Epic Machine has been approved to use the new “Forever” GI Bill, which lets military veterans use federal benefits for technology courses through non-college providers.
Academy students will learn:
• CNC milling
• CNC turning
• G and M code programming
• How to read blueprints and manufacture the product
• Career skills, like time management, that are necessary to be successful
“You grow your skill by doing it,” Keway said. “Come in and see what the world of manufacturing is like today. It’s totally different than what you might expect.”