Southwire's 12 for Life - Motivating Students to Stay in School

The Problem

The 12 for Life 32,850 sq. ft. facility in Carrollton, GA and our new 30,000 sq. ft. facility in Florence, AL are real Southwire manufacturing plants. They were specially developed with young student workers in mind, with a safe, flexible environment customized for their needs and capabilities – setting them up for success, even down to the equipment.

For example, young people can’t operate forklifts, so Southwire created moving pallets so they can work safely – no pallets rise above four feet. The plant prioritizes safety, adding guards, safety lighting, and a safety-learning curriculum component to foster the best work environment for our students.

Once they arrive at the plant, 12 for Life students work in one of three, four-hour shifts:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Southwire is one of the nation’s leading wire and cable manufacturers. As with its other facilities, Southwire’s 12 for Life plant manufactures a variety of products, including building wire used in residential and commercial construction. Under the supervision of two Southwire shift supervisors and one Carroll County School System program administrator, 12 for Life students work on a variety of packing and shipping processes:

  • ROMEX® SIMPULL PACKAGING - Using a machine operator and a set-up person, this machine coils and cuts 25- or 50-foot lengths of wire from larger spools. Students inspect and place individual coils in the appropriate package. The process produces 12 AWG and 14 AWG NM, two of the most popular wire sizes used in residential wiring. The repacked wire is sold through retail stores and electrical distributors. These packages are boxed into master cartons, and then shipped to one of Southwire’s distribution service centers or directly to retail customers.
  • ULTRA WHIP® - This workstation consists of specially designed tables, jigs, and equipment students use to insert insulated wire into flexible conduit and install fittings before packing the wire. Each workstation requires 1-2 students, depending on the product. Whips include metallic and non-metallic conduits and are produced in a wide variety of conductor sizes. Whips are commonly used for connecting air conditioners, pumps, motors, compressors, swimming pool equipment and similar projects.
  • SPOOL ASSEMBLY - Using a conveyor, 5-6 students assemble a variety of small spools from components. This is a challenging and rewarding workstation as effective teamwork is essential. Many of Southwire’s manufacturing facilities use these spools to package and ship wire products.
  • REEL ASSEMBLY - Here students use a specially designed table and jig to build wooden reels. Each workstation requires 1-2 students to assemble reels in a variety of sizes. Southwire typically uses these reels to package and ship large wire products
Dropping the Dropout Rate

We are actively reversing the dropout trend in Georgia. We've graduated 275 students in our first four years, far exceeding our goal of 175 High School Graduates by 2012. Learn more +

12 for Life Skills for Life

12 For Life is not a Vocational/Technical program. We focus on students rather than specific skills to ensure individuals have the work and life skills they need to succeed.
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12 for Life Skills for Life

Schools and private businesses committed to education & community can build sustainable programs. Doing the right thing pays for itself.
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A Paycheck and a Diploma

Students can succeed at School and Work without the compromise. Our students stay in school, earn money, and learn the skills employers look for.  Learn more +


Southwire Giving Back

Since the 1950's, Southwire has emphasized giving back to the community. 12 for Life is a natural extension of our outreach to improve our community.
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Getting Involved

12 for Life is a successful model for other businesses and schools. Find out how to improve graduation rates and impact long-term earning capacity for your entire community.
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