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Focus on the Foundation: Ariens

Focus on the Foundation: Ariens

Spring 2012

Investing in Innovation

Ariens keeps FVTC’s Outdoor Power Equipment program on the cutting edge.

In 2005, Fox Valley Technical College launched its Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) program with industry leaders who were concerned about the need for qualified technicians. Their donations of equipment and training materials have helped the program gain national recognition.

Established in 1933 in Brillion, Wisconsin, Ariens Company is a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment for both consumer and commercial use. Ariens was one of FVTC’s initial founding partners of the OPE program, and recently the company made yet another important contribution. “They delivered six of their new state-of-the-art electric riding lawn mowers late last year,” says OPE instructor Dale Drees. “These are the very latest in green technology.”

“Every time we receive equipment like this, it saves the taxpayers money,” Drees states. “We don’t have to purchase these training tools for our students. We can save money for other student learning experiences.”

“Our relationship with Fox Valley Technical College goes back years,” states Fred Moreaux, director of Product Conformance-Warranty-Training for Ariens. “I’ve been part of the program’s advisory committee since its inception.” Throughout this relationship, the company has made substantial donations including snow equipment, conventional gas mowers and commercial equipment, training materials, and component parts such as transmissions.

“We believe it is important to enable Fox Valley Technical College to put actual working products into the hands of its students,” says Moreaux. “It helps ensure that technicians will know how to work with the latest equipment.”

That equipment is far more sophisticated and powerful, plus newer emission standards require cleaner engine performance. “Today’s equipment requires fully qualified technicians,” notes Drees. “That’s why industry support of technical education is so important. Without it, many schools could simply not afford to run effective programs.”

Since 2005, more than 175 technicians have completed the OPE program. “You’ll find our grads working almost everywhere,” states Drees. “Some work for our manufacturing partners in their plants and dealerships. Others, who came to us as older learners due to job loss, have started their own companies!”

In addition, the program also serves many non-professionals through community courses. “We offer the full gamut of courses in our evening program and work with everyone,” states Drees. “Some are homeowners who want to learn simple things like sharpening a mower blade. Others want to handle complete maintenance and repair projects.”

Today, all of the OPE program’s original supporters, which include Briggs & Stratton, Stihl, Snap-On Tools, and Ariens, continue their support. Other companies have climbed onboard too. “What we don’t use, we pass on to high schools,” says Drees.

Another Tech Education Champ

Recently, Kohler Company, a global leader in the manufacturing of kitchen and bath products, engines, and power generation systems, donated more than 3,600 Courage XT-7 small engines to Fox Valley Technical College’s Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) program.

“Kohler looked to us to help distribute these engines because of our reputation and relationships with high schools,” notes Dale Drees, instructor in FVTC’s OPE program. “This is an incredible demonstration of support for technical education at all levels. Education is facing unprecedented budget cuts, so Kohler’s donation is very timely as well.”

The fair market value of Kohler’s overall donation is more than $543,000. To date, FVTC has donated these engines to 115 school districts in its service community and throughout Wisconsin.

“Hundreds of students can now gain real-life experiences in small engine theory,” says Kevin Otradovec, technology education instructor at Stockbridge High School. “The generous support of Kohler Company and Fox Valley Technical College provides the tools for meaningful, high quality education.”

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