NORTH VENICE, Fla. — William Merriman, apprentice at PGT Innovations (NYSE: PGTI), a national brand and innovation leader in the fenestration and garage door industries, was recently named Florida Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year. The honor was awarded by FloridaMakes, a statewide, industry-led public-private partnership with the sole mission of strengthening and advancing Florida’s economy by improving the productivity and technological performance of its manufacturing sector. This marks the second consecutive year that a member of PGT Innovations’ apprenticeship program was acknowledged by FloridaMakes.
The award is designed to recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to their professional development and who have gone above and beyond their normal duties and taken on additional responsibilities, including encouraging others to consider manufacturing as a career.
Merriman is currently a Tool and Die Maker in the four-year apprenticeship program at the company’s Venice facility. He joined the company in the Line Maintenance department before transitioning into Tool and Die as a trainee. Soon after, he ascended to his current apprenticeship role, of which he is in his third year of the four-year program.
An awards ceremony was held on Thursday, Oct. 26 during FloridaMakes’ MakeMore Manufacturing Summit, an annual thought-leadership event that brings together the manufacturing ecosystem to help strengthen Florida’s manufacturing sector, to acknowledge the six winners.
Last year, Brentyn Szalbirak, former Tool and Die apprentice at PGT Innovations, was acknowledged with the award. He has since graduated from the apprenticeship program and is now a Licensed Journeyman in the Tool and Die department.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see the success of our apprenticeship program,” said Jeff Jackson, President and CEO of PGT Innovations. “We are always looking for ways to lead the industry in terms of workforce development. The future of manufacturing begins with the youth of today. We look forward to continuing to serve our community and the industry with innovative initiatives like our apprenticeship program, internship program, and Pathway to PGTI program.”
PGT Innovations’ apprenticeship program aims to build interest and awareness in manufacturing career opportunities. The program places PGT Innovations at the forefront of the movement to provide local students with a direct pipeline to rewarding, growth-oriented jobs. PGT Innovations launched its apprenticeship program, sponsored by CareerSource Suncoast, in 2018 for the Tool and Die Department, and currently has one in development for Line Maintenance. The apprenticeship programs must be designed, developed, and then approved by the Department of Education before they can operate.
Per the Department of Education’s annual apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship report for 2021-22, an increasing number of employers across the state recognized the value of such programs, with 275 active apprenticeships, 53 active pre-apprenticeships, and 3,600 participating employers reported.