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  • Alicia Wallace

Grayling Students Tour Hometown Manufacturers for MFG Day 2021

Fifteen Grayling High students started their day of Talent Tours by visiting the Grayling Michigan Works office for a short presentation covering Michigan Works services, youth program offerings, and the Career PathFinder tool.


At Springs Window Fashions students geared up with goggles and ear protection and had a briefing on safety during the tour. Human Resource Manager, John Metts led the students from the shipping department through the processing plant to see the machines and workers operating the equipment, and onto to the kiln area where wood is dried. John stressed what he looks for in a prospective employee during an interview and gave advice on how to make a great impression. He spoke about the many areas in manufacturing that provide a good living. At Springs there are many opportunities for advancement for an employee starting in an entry level position and John said he encourages his staff to continue to grow with the company. Springs Window Fashions has been a longtime supporter of student tours, and with October being Manufacturing Month, the company didn’t want to miss the opportunity to introduce students to their line of work and showcase manufacturing as a career path.


At the 64,000 square foot Alro Steel plant, General Manager, Jason Campbell kicked off the tour with a presentation on Alro’s history and the company operations. Jason shared how his career with Alro Steel advanced from an entry level starting position to working his way up to General Manager. He spoke on the excellent benefit package the company offers and that many employees have been with the company for several years. The students asked about what an entry level job looks like at Alro, and what skills or experience they need to know to get in. They were also interested in hearing about how many pounds of steel were shipped out on one truck and the cost of a truckload of steel. The students moved onto the plant operations area and were led by Chris Perez who explained cutting steel to customer specs, shipping, and how product is stored and held in inventory. Chris talked about Alro being employee safety centered and customer service focused. He touched on the certifications needed to perform certain jobs at Alro including overhead crane rigging and forklift operating. He encouraged the students to consider jobs in the manufacturing sector being they can lead to lucrative careers. Alro Steel is a distributor of metals, industrial supplies, and plastics, with 70 locations in 12 states. Alro offers cut-to-size metals and plastics with next day delivery to over 25,000 customers in North America.


At Monarch Millworks, Seth Reichard, Logistics, Production, Marketing, HR, QC, and Sales Manager led students throughout the plant to show how they manufacture wood to be used for trim, custom orders, and wood pellets. During the tour Seth spoke to the students about the many opportunities Monarch offers for entry level up to higher positions at the company. With his background as a former school teacher, Seth was able to relate very well to the students and give them advice on choosing jobs and careers that they enjoy. He also emphasized that manufacturing offers a path to a viable, stable career with the potential to advance into other areas. The students learned how wood is dried in the kiln and experienced briefly how hot and humid that area is. They were able to see the lumber graders who check boards for quality. Seth pointed out how lumber grading is a sought after skill and the certification that is obtained to become a certified lumber grader, which is good paying job in manufacturing, and a transferable credential. Students had some questions about how many boards are run through machines per day, and what basic skills are needed to be hired on. One student was interested in knowing if Monarch would help pay for a higher degree, which the company does offer assistance with.

In wrapping up the tour, Seth gave each student his contact information and let them know the opportunity to work at Monarch could be theirs.



The day of tours wrapped up at Kirtland Community College, where Cesalee Kuffel, Admissions Coordinator showed students educational departments including the wood sciences lab where the instructor demonstrated using a machine to custom cut a canoe paddle; the policy academy where cadets were practicing drills, the auto shop where current students were in class, and the health sciences that included the patient simulators. Kirtland’s 38 degree and certificate programs are designed to guarantee student success. Kirtland offers degree and certificate programs, including transfer associate degrees, and areas of study in arts and sciences, business, professional programs, industrial trades, health science, public safety and more. Programs and courses offered include: wood science technology, cosmetology, nursing, cardiac sonography, medical assistant, surgical technology, cyber security, art, industrial and construction technology, automotive technology, police academy, as well as online offerings, general education, prerequisites, science classes with labs and transfer credits. Following their tour of Kirtland’s campus, the students enjoyed lunch and had information presented by Kirtland staff on financial aid and how to apply for admission.

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