ELYRIA, Ohio–In 1995, at 36 years old, Simon Ramirez was a production department supervisor at Bendix’s Acuña, Mexico, manufacturing campus. That year, the company launched an education program to support its employees who had not had the opportunity to complete traditional schooling. Ramirez, who started at Bendix in 1990, enrolled and earned his middle and high school diplomas. And then he kept going.
“With Bendix support and scholarships, I earned my engineering degree, and three months later, I joined the Engineering department,” said Ramirez, today a manufacturing engineer. “A few years later, I earned an English language teaching degree, and after that, my master’s degree in manufacturing business management. Now, in addition to working at Bendix, I’ve been teaching engineering classes – which was always one of my goals – at Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Ciudad Acuña.”
Ramirez is one of 297 total graduates of Bendix’s employee education program, which celebrated its 24th consecutive graduating class this summer.
“Our employees here in Acuña and their dedication to our mission of safer vehicles are at the very heart of our efforts,” said Jackie Perez, Acuña plant manager. “They are the future of who we are as a company and what we can accomplish together. For almost a quarter-century, we’ve offered these education programs and scholarships for their personal and professional development – because knowledge and growth are among our core values, and integral to what we do every day.”
Bendix – the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles – opened its original Acuña plant in May 1988. The campus now consists of three state-of-the-art facilities and a logistics center, employing more than 1,800 workers and encompassing 412,000 square feet.
Individual Educational Journeys
Employees seeking elementary, middle, and high school diplomas take their educational journeys at their own pace, covering a specific amount of material on various subjects at each level. While the program is part of a government effort to focus on people who didn’t finish their studies in a traditional school, Bendix provides a teaching center in each of its three Acuña plants and pays teachers to provide academic advice and guidance. The company also covers the cost of the exams that students must take to graduate. These courses of study are open to employees after three months with the company who also meet attendance requirements.
Beyond high school, at the undergraduate and master’s levels, Bendix provides scholarships for employees who want to pursue business- and industry-related degrees.
“Over the years, the program has grown as the Acuña campus has,” Perez said. “There are currently 118 employees pursuing university-level education – including eight master’s degree students – as well as 71 seeking their high school diplomas, and five studying the middle school curriculum.”
“Bendix’s support and scholarships meant a great deal to me, as doors to new opportunities,” said Juan Hernandez, a value stream leader at Bendix Acuña who earned his high school diploma and industrial engineering degree through the educational program and scholarships. “They were the chance to grow personally and professionally, and to provide a better quality of life for my family. When you find a company that cares enough to offer the tools to keep improving, it really makes you feel grateful and committed to the team and what we’re all hoping to achieve, as together we shape tomorrow’s transportation.”
Culture of Education
In Acuña, Bendix’s culture of education extends beyond its walls and into the community. One example is the Industrial Production Apprenticeship program, in which students earn both their high school diplomas and technical degrees through a two-year dual-education program designed to prepare them for careers in the manufacturing industry.
The apprenticeship program, which graduated its first class this summer, was designed through a partnership between Bendix and Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado de Coahuila (CECyTEC), a local technical vocational school in Ciudad Acuña.
Through the unique two-year program, students gain work experience in an industrial setting while earning a high school diploma. The program is officially recognized as part of the Dual Education Mexican Model (MMFD), thanks to its combination of technical applied apprenticeships at Bendix and the high school curricula.
Bendix also contributed to the design and construction of a new industrial production laboratory on the CECyTEC campus, open to all of the institution’s students.
Acuña is one of the fastest-growing Bendix manufacturing sites, and executives of Bendix’s parent company, the Knorr-Bremse Group – the global market leader for braking systems and a leading supplier of other rail and commercial vehicle subsystems – consider it a model manufacturing facility. Knorr-Bremse honored the Acuña operation as its top-ranked plant worldwide in 2011. Bendix also maintains other operations in Mexico, including an Engineering Research and Development Center in Monterrey and an expansive Distribution Center in Mexico City.
About Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC
Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, a member of the Knorr-Bremse Group, develops and supplies leading-edge active safety technologies, energy management solutions, and air brake charging and control systems and components under the Bendix® brand name for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, tractors, trailers, buses, and other commercial vehicles throughout North America. An industry pioneer, employing more than 3,200 people, Bendix is driven to deliver solutions for improved vehicle safety, performance, and overall operating cost. Contact us at 1-800-AIR-BRAKE (1-800-247-2725) or visit bendix.com. Stay connected and informed through Bendix expert podcasts, blog posts, videos, and other resources at knowledge-dock.com. Follow Bendix on Twitter at twitter.com/Bendix_CVS. Log on and learn from the Bendix experts at brake-school.com. And to learn more about career opportunities at Bendix, visit bendix.com/careers.