W.O. Lawton Business Leadership Award

Recognizing Excellence in our Industry

A primary role of Workforce Development Boards is to build relationships between businesses and public partners such as economic development organizations, education providers, and community and faith-based organizations. This is only possible, however, when a business steps up and makes a commitment to be a full partner in the Board’s endeavors. NAWB has established the W.O. Lawton Business Leadership Award to annually honor a business or business organization that made the commitment of time, money, and leadership to make their community’s workforce and economy more vibrant. This year, two nominations stood out, one for a large, international corporation, and the other for a small precision machine shop, each impressive in for what it did with the resources available.

W. O. Lawton Award Winner – Small Company

Wyoming Machine, Inc.
Washington County Workforce Development Board

Wyoming Machine, Inc. makes metal components for other industries, such as defense, computer and electrical equipment, and aerospace. Manufacturing faces a skilled labor shortage, and Lori Tapani, co-president of Wyoming Machine, has focused on raising awareness of the opportunities in the industry and partnering with community organizations to provide training. She has been especially active in engaging such underrepresented groups as women and youth in manufacturing. Lori Tapani and her sister, Traci, are definite trailblazers in manufacturing. They have brought global insight to the challenges of women in non-traditional jobs in our workforce development area.


Lori Tapani served as a member of a consortium of manufacturers that worked to raise awareness in our community about the rewarding careers available in manufacturing. She partnered with a local college to secure a Department of Labor training and education grant for manufacturing. Five of the partners received ITV systems that were hosted at a local college. These systems allow her to deliver customized training at her local facility. She has been able to offer everything from basic math skills, to ISO auditor training, to project management. Occasionally, Wyoming Machine partners with other manufacturers in the consortium to share the costs of developing classes that are beneficial for all of the companies’ workforces.

Lori Tapani serves as a member and a past chair of the Pine Technical and & Community College Foundation Board. The Board is very active in raising money for student scholarships, and has both endowment fund and annual fund campaigns. She participated in the Gold Collar Career Day hosted at Pine Technical College and provides an opportunity for area high school students to participate in a variety of activities that expose them to various manufacturing careers. Lori and Traci provided the keynote address at this event.

Lori and Traci participate annually in the Women in Technology program designed for 6th grade girls from local schools, where the students engage with women in STEM professions. Last year, Lori and Traci provided the keynote address.

Lori Tapani is an industry community partner in the North Branch Area Schools Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Program. North Branch was invited to the MN Statewide PLTW Conference to talk about the innovative way it connects with its community. The industry partners meet at the local school twice a year to hear from faculty, staff, and students about the program. The partners also have made a financial commitment to the program where 50 percent goes toward operating the program, and 50 percent goes to a scholarship fund.


Manufacturers on the Washington County Workforce Development Board discuss at length strategies to deal with the skill labor shortage in their industries. Lori Tapani’s experience as a woman running a manufacturing company gives a unique perspective in solving those skill shortage challenges. She has focused on the importance of going directly to schools and talking with students to open their minds to a career in manufacturing. She has realized the untapped potential of bringing women into the industry. Her leadership on the Board has been an inspiration to other members.

Wyoming Machine is well known in the metro area. The co-owners are well connected in the manufacturing area and were invited to a meeting with the National Economic Council at the White House this year to discussed work-based learning and the success among small- and medium-sized employers. Wyoming Machine also participated in the National Skills Summit in Washington D.C. on a panel discussing how to make the federal Pell Grant work for both the workers and the employers.

Wyoming Machine is a strong pillar of our manufacturing community in the metro area. The positive impact this this company has made in our community and the manufacturing industry is impeccable.

Wyoming Machine, Inc. (60 employees)
Lori Tapani
30680 Forest Blvd, P.O. Box 180  Stacy, MN 55079
P: 651.462.4156

Washington County Workforce Development Board
Robert Crawford
Division Manager
2150 Radio Dr.  Woodbury, MN 55125
P: 651.275.8660 development board

W. O. Lawton Award Winner – Large Company

Lockheed Martin Corporation
Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics contributes $1.6 billion to the local economy and is a major supporter of STEM and career and technology education programs. Under the company’s leadership the Regional Aerospace Consortium was developed with the goal to devise methods to strengthen the current workforce, grow the future workforce through educational participation, and assist with the Board’s career pathways project. Lockheed Martin co-produced the consortium’s Gotta Jet? aerospace career awareness campaign, invested one million dollars in Project Lead the Way and STEM programs, and contributed $15,000 to develop FLYBY DFW, a gaming app to encourage young adults to explore aerospace career paths.


Lockheed Martin, the largest aerospace company in the region, will be adding over $100 million to the local economy by expanding its Fort Worth facilities, and adding approximately 2,000 new jobs for their F-35 project. The company’s growth and leadership within the aerospace industry and community has been instrumental in adding jobs, attracting new suppliers, increasing the awareness of aerospace careers, and developing aerospace training programs.

Lockheed Martin's leadership in the Board’s Aerospace Consortium broadened the scope of the aerospace industry, and was the catalyst for recruiting Bell Helicopter, Airbus, Sikorsky, and 15 other aerospace businesses and suppliers. The Aerospace Consortium, under the leadership of Lockheed Martin, established the foundational Industry Initiative model on which the Board designed five other industry consortium models. The outcomes are to develop career pathways and training programs, promote internships/apprenticeships, and promote career interest. Through their leadership, the consortium created the Gotta Jet? aerospace career awareness campaign, which identified aerospace jobs as viable career options.

Lockheed Martin is committed to growing the aerospace talent pipeline. The company’s leadership in advancing STEM projects is a key to the success of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an activity-based curriculum that provides a transformative learning environment where students learn problem-solving strategies, critical and creative thinking, and communication and collaboration skills. In 2015, Lockheed Martin invested $1 million in Fort Worth Independent School district’s PLTW programs. Lockheed Martin has also committed $6 million nationally to expand PLTW programs in select U.S. urban school districts. The grant funding covers implementation costs, including PLTW teacher professional development training, software, classroom equipment, and supplies. In addition, Lockheed Martin engineers volunteer in classrooms at the participating schools, building relationships with students as role models and mentors.

Lockheed’s leadership within the community was instrumental in Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County receiving a $5 million Department of Labor H1-B grant to identify and place American engineers in six engineering industries. This endeavor placed 406 unemployed and under-employed degreed engineers within 37 companies, and allowed the Board to identify companies that had never accessed workforce system services.


Lockheed Martin, which contributes $1.6 billon to the local economy and over $739 million to Texas suppliers within Tarrant County, is a strong supporter of the workforce and educational system, and veteran initiatives. The company was instrumental in developing the Regional Workforce Leadership Council, comprised of three regional workforce boards and chambers of commerce. Through their leadership with the aerospace consortium, a state of the art, composite bonding aerospace manufacturing training program (AMTP) was developed to strengthen the current workforce, develop the future workforce through career and technology and STEM programs, and provide information for the Board’s career pathways project. The company supplied materials, tools, subject matter experts, and mentors to ensure project success.

Lockheed donated over $20,000 in cash and in-kind support, and led in the development of FLYBY DFW, an aerospace gaming app to encourage students to research aerospace careers. Lockheed Martin was the catalyst for the Board receiving a $5 million Technical Skills Training Grant from the Department of Labor, which provided training funds to companies hiring engineers. Through this project, 406 engineers were trained and placed within 37 participating companies (222 at Lockheed), with an average wage rate of $65,000.

Lockheed Martin Corporation (14,100 employees)
Jon Gustafson
Workforce Partnerships & Incentives
7000 Calmont Ave., Suite 300  Fort Worth, TX 76120
P: 817.495.0274

Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County
Judy McDonald
Executive Director
1320 S University Dr., Suite 600  Fort Worth, TX 76107
P: 817.413.4444

W. O. Lawton Award Nominees

NAWB wishes to thank all Workforce Development Boards that submitted nominations of their business partners for the W.O. Lawton award. Their efforts, and the efforts of their business partners are applauded. Click here for full nomination descriptions.

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NAWB Award Committee Members »

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