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Planning and Economic Development

Lanzen Inc. becoming a model for fueling the talent pipeline -- introducing students to potential careers

-Posted on July 26, 2022

Lanzen Inc. is a metal fabrication company in Romeo. It has found success filling its employment gaps with aggressive hiring of high school students. It is hoped the students will help the company now and in the future.

Established in 1960, Lanzen has been in the Romeo area since 2018. It supplies defense, transportation and many other diverse industries with quality metal fabricated components and assemblies. It also has facilities in Mancelona and Harbor Springs in northern Michigan.

A Fueling The Talent Pipeline model

Since 2019, Lanzen has been actively involved with the Academies at Romeo High School as well as other districts as part of the county’s “Fueling the Talent Pipeline” initiative. Designed to provide meaningful career exploration experiences for students K-12, Lanzen has successfully leveraged its interactions with students to recruit new employees.  

Aside from regularly hosting Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) tours for students, Lanzen also takes part in career fairs at local high schools. And it can provide some job shadowing and apprenticeships in machining.

Lanzen has created a chance for high school students to get on the payroll in what could be described as “exploratory employment.”

Starting as young as 16, with the necessary work permits, Lanzen hires students with the understanding that their ability to work a regular shift is complicated. Instead, they work with a student to determine a schedule.

“We recognize that it is important that these students have the ability to participate in things that are important to them, like after-school clubs, sports or family obligations,” said Anne Nicolazzo, vice president of human resources and community outreach at Lanzen. “If a student is truly motivated, we offer them a chance to explore the types of positions we offer and gain a better feeling for what might be the right fit for them.”

Students can work flexible hours after school, based upon school or other obligations. 

Thanks to its relationship with the Academies at Romeo High School and other local school districts, the company has begun hiring students and created very generalized positions. Workplace shortages are everywhere. Companies like Lanzen have learned high schoolers are an untapped market to fuel the talent pipeline. And there are legitimate hopes that the students will eventually take on full time permanent positions.

Ready to hire students? Here’s what you need to know about hiring minors

According to the Youth Employment Standards Act of Michigan, minors under the age of 18 must obtain a work permit or a written agreement or contract entered into between the employer and the student's school district before starting work. Work permits can be obtained from the state of Michigan school issuing officer, usually an employee in the administration office.

A Lanzen success story

Bennett Smith, 21, a 2019 Romeo High School graduate, is one of Lanzen’s early success stories. He started out as a general laborer and is now a CNC machinist. He just celebrated his third anniversary at the company.

“I love what I do. It’s very satisfying to me to be able to look at a part, and look at a print, and have the stock and be able to turn that into a part and do it flawlessly,” Smith said.

Bennett also takes advantage of Lanzen’s tuition reimbursement program through Macomb Community College. As a full-time employee, his tuition and books are fully paid for, as long as the classes tie back to his employment at Lanzen. The company also regulates his work hours to accommodate his classes. 

Opportunities abound

Nicolazzo said most students start out in general labor in the shop to find out what they might have interest in. But not all jobs are on the production floor. Other jobs can be found in the front office, administration, payroll or human resources. Students are encouraged to move around to different positions to discover new roles that best suit their strengths and interests. 

This allows the student the ability to discover that machining or finance may not be something they want to pursue for a career.

There are formal apprenticeships available in machining, and some job shadowing is available. Most students learn their job from an established full-time employee or other students who have held their job for a shorter length of time. 

In the last three years, nearly 30 high school students have experienced this opportunity. Currently, eight students are working at the facility.

Help Fuel the Talent Pipeline

If your company is interested in similar ways to utilize high school students to fill workplace gaps, consider getting involved in MCPEDs Fueling the Talent Pipeline initiative. Our Senior Outreach Specialist  Jennifer Weot can help you learn more about ways to get involved with the local school districts. Weot can assist with everything from providing job shadowing to industry tours and internships. She also takes part in career fairs and can help make connections to individual students to hire for part-time and eventually full-time work.

Contact Jennifer Weot at, or call 586-469-6565.

Don Gardner is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development