Feb 8, 2018
Article originally published in the Waushara Argus.
A roaring economy combined with high-tech products our society can’t get enough of makes for an ideal time to get involved in industry on parade. With the right skill, today’s career starter or workplace advancer can name his or her ticket.
At the ticket booth of opportunity concerning such success is technical education. Fox Valley Technical College, for instance, continues to respond to employer demands for specialized labor at the speed of business. These very men and women who invest in an FVTC education are often the hidden heroes of commerce and economic development.
One such example of those talents is found inside the doors of Mayville Engineering Company (MEC), the largest custom metal fabricator in the United States with divisions in five states, totaling 17 facilities. MEC’s original equipment manufacturing product line includes industrial-related tanks, performance structures, tubes, along with general fabrication work and custom-built re-loaders for marksmen and women in the sport-shooting market.
MEC’s Wautoma plant is one the fabrication centers that relies heavily on skilled welders. As Mayville’s Cliff Sanderson believes, however, today’s metal fabricators bring more than technical aptitudes to the workplace. “Fox Valley Tech impresses me with an unwavering ability to instill more than solid technical skills in its students,” noted the company’s vice president of human resources. “They enter our company prepared to work in teams with a professional attitude.”
Sanderson underscores the value of today’s advanced manufacturing professionals. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges are second-to-none,” he said. “These institutions thrive on partnering with industry to develop responsible, innovative workers that companies need to fit their unique needs. Fox Valley Tech’s presence is Wautoma, for example, has served as a catalyst for training skilled welders for MEC.”
Some of MEC’s customers are Honda, Volvo, CNH, Mercury, John Deere, and Oshkosh Corporation, to names few. With such a high profile line of end users, it’s imperative for a company like Mayville to find and develop the best talent. Although welders are the centerpiece graduate MEC looks for from FVTC, Sanderson says his company’s’ track record of promoting from within can often lead to leadership positions.
“A youth apprenticeship model serves as a solid program that works for us,” stated Sanderson. “The college has been receptive in working with us on student placement, subject matter ideation, and in the recruitment of students. A collaboration with that level of comprehensive dimensions puts in place a pathway for student success.”
FVTC’s primary five-county district is rich in manufacturing. College officials observe strong working relationships with manufacturers when it comes to apprentice-style approaches in attracting talent. That said, growing and retaining a top-notch workforce is always a challenge as regions grow and jobs become increasingly competitive. Building up an educational foundation in communities like Wautoma can only improve quality of life.
“A large percentage of high school graduates in the Waushara region do not have the resources to attend a traditional four-year college or university,” Sanderson noted. “Fox Valley Tech’s new facility will deliver just what this area needs. Wautoma’s citizens represent a strong work ethic, and with a little more training, they could realize career-focused jobs on a more consistent basis.”
FVTC’s partnership with MEC extends into the arena of workplace training through the college’s Business & Industry Services team as well. Most recently, FVTC conducted a blueprint reading class for MEC for its welders and press brake operators. The MEC/FVTC partnership begins at the high school level with an apprenticeship and continues well after employees are hired at the company, showcasing a stream of training for employment that morphs into continuous education.
Like witnessed in other communities like the Fox River Valley, once companies like Mayville further build and retain its employees, a cyclical effect kicks in and surrounding communities start to swell, too. The table is set for this renewed “college town” known as Wautoma to experience the same impact from FVTC’s expanded services.
Learn more about the FVTC Wautoma Regional Center >>