When TPMA was asked to implement the Apprenticeship Network’s American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grant, our priority was to secure at minimum 300 new registered apprentices—and that’s just what we did! During National Apprenticeship Week, we recognize the Apprenticeship Network’s 300th apprentice, Mark Kmecik, and his employer, Northwestern Manufacturing (NWM).

In September, Kmecik was placed in a machinist apprenticeship program at NWM located in Lake City Pennsylvania, making him the 300th apprentice under the Apprenticeship Network. He’s enthusiastic about developing his machining knowledge and earning industry recognized credentials. The 29-year-old apprentice served in the U.S. Navy and completed education for CNC programming before gaining employment with the manufacturer. Kmecik’s off time is spent with his wife, Lydia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Eve.

Clay Brocious, plant manager for the facility that machines an array of alloys and plastics, says there is immense value in apprenticeship program investment. He states, “it attracts and helps retain employees while giving clear objectives for growth.”  Brocious says his company likes the competency-based model it uses for apprenticeships because the apprentice moves along its apprenticeship program at a pace that is parallel to their knowledge and hands on mastery. The company was also the first to register a female for apprenticeship under the Apprenticeship Network.

That model NWM uses was created with assistance from TPMA experts in collaboration with our partners at the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. NWM owner, Kevin Cashdollar says, “this is a great program that allows an employee to gain the skill sets needed to become a well rounded and versatile machinist. An apprentice program is invaluable to a machine shop.”

Although the Apprenticeship Network project closed at the end of September this year, TPMA continues to assist its partners through additional apprenticeship projects. Feel free to reach out to us to discover how we can support your apprenticeship goals!

Pictured from left to right: Kevin Cashdollar, Mark Kmecik, and Clay Brocious


Vicki Thompson

Senior Project Consultant




Jerica Johnson