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Turtle & Hughes Embraces Skills Training for Its NJ Employees

Hard Work, Good Mentors and Skills Training End in Big Promotion for the Bridgewater Company’s New Operations Manager

When Melissa Hartpence graduated from South Plainfield High School, becoming an operations manager with a large electrical supply company was as far from her mind as joining a mission to mars.

Like most high school graduates, Hartpence lacked well-defined career goals.

She tried two semesters at Middlesex County College before deciding it wasn’t for her. Then she went straight to work, first as a legal assistant, next as an office administrator for her father’s garage-door company, and finally as a customer service representative with Turtle & Hughes Inc., one of the nation’s largest electrical and industrial distributors.

Melissa Hartpence of South Plainfield secured a promotion to Operations Manager of the statewide Central Distribution Center for Turtle & Hughes in Bridgewater, NJ, by working hard and developing her skills over a ten-year period. Photo Credit: Christopher Biddle

Today, ten years after joining Turtle & Hughes, the bright and personable Hartpence oversees approximately 80 employees, 17,000 stock product codes, $100 million in sales and $10 million worth of inventory as the recently promoted operations manager for the company’s on-site central distribution center in Bridgewater, NJ.

“Melissa Hartpence provides a great example of how the NJBIA Basic Skills training program works,” said Consortium CEO Sivaraman Anbarasan. “The program makes companies more efficient and productive, and it helps company employees advance their careers.”
How did she get there?



“I never went back to college,” the married mother of two young children explained in a recent interview. “It was through a lot of hard work and really good mentors who wanted me to succeed. I’ve been able to grow within the company, building my skills. They (Turtle & Hughes) really care, value and invest about their employees.”How did she get there?

Ironically, she also got there with some help from her erstwhile alma mater, Middlesex County College, which provided her with customized training in Excel through the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program and certificate training in Supply Chain Management Principles.

No stranger to Excel, Hartpence learned new formulas and picked up speed from her training. She said the spreadsheet program is the software glue that binds together the day-to-day operations she oversees, from inventory control, customer orders and daily reports to warehouse deliveries, driver dispatch and “picks and packs” (order fulfillment).

She joins more than 113,000 employees with over 7,500 companies who have received Basic Skills training through the State’s 19 community colleges over the past 10 plus years. The program provides instruction in computer applications, communications, mathematics, management, literacy and other skills sets. A big fan of the program, Turtle & Hughes has hosted multiple classes in Excel for dozens of its employees, and has also provided training in team building, warehouse operations, supply-chain management, and Six Sigma.

The Basic Skills program is a partnership of the NJ Community College Consortium, which manages it; the state’s 19 community colleges, which provide the training; the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the founding business partner; and the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which provides grants to underwrite the training.

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