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Goodwill Tour in Cleveland

December 31st, 2011

We took the SkillsUSA Goodwill Tour to Cleveland on December 6 to visit two of our long-time corporate partners and with two new ones. The SkillsUSA national officers who handled much of the presentations were Diego Carvallo of Georgia, high school Region II vice president and Wade Persson of South Dakota, college/postsecondary parliamentarian. Each did a tremendous job of representing the organization. We were joined on all four visits by Mike Cowles, state association director of SkillsUSA Ohio.

First stop was at Thomas & Betts Corporation, a manufacturer of electrical equipment. The introduction to Thomas & Betts was made by Lincoln Electric. We met with seven executives including the director of HR and five regional HR managers. Our presentation for all four visits – prepared by Eric Gearhart – centered on how SkillsUSA addresses skilled workforce issues. By the end of the meeting, the director expressed interest in opening internships and hiring alumni. We’ve scheduled a presentation in January to meet with the corporation’s executive team at their headquarters in Tennessee.

Next stop was at Sherwin-Williams, a SkillsUSA partner for 15 years with four people on our automotive refinishing technology contest. This was a thank you visit for Sherwin-Williams’ continuing support. We met with managers in refinish and in marketing to discuss expansion of the partnership and support for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam in 2013.

The third visit was another big thank you for Lincoln Electric, a corporate partner for 31 years. Lincoln Electric not only supports our national welding contest, but 43 state association welding contests as well. Lincoln Electric is also a platinum sponsor of the WorldSkills Competition. We met with 50 executives in sales and marketing and with Chris Mapes, COO. Chris told the group: “Lincoln Electric has certain strategic partnerships. SkillsUSA is one of our most important.” Both Diego and Wade made masterful presentations and both were presented with brand new MIG welding machines to take back to their schools.

And, fourth, we met with Kenneth Henderson, principal at Dealer Tire and 12 of his senior executives. The introduction here came through Youth Development Foundation member Dave Camden of Toyota. The introduction was facilitated by the Champion of the Year dinner.

And, we did visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The students were thrilled. Cleveland Rocks!

CBS Radio Interview

December 31st, 2011

On December 4, CBS Radio (KFWB News Talk 980-AM in Los Angeles) aired an hour-long interview with Jim Lentz of Toyota, Victoria Holbert, our high school national president and me on a program entitled “Unfinished Business.” The subject revolved around training, CTE and what Toyota is doing with SkillsUSA to prepare America’s skilled workforce. The invitation was a direct result of the Champion of the Year dinner attended by Renee Fraser, president and CEO of a communications firm that does a lot of work with Toyota.

Renee and her partner conducted the interview and commented that they were surprised they’d never heard of SkillsUSA. Jim Lentz, who had many wonderful things to say about Toyota’s support of SkillsUSA said something to the effect: “If you look at how SkillsUSA is spending its budget, 93 percent is going back to support their members at the local level not into marketing and PR. It’s up to corporations like Toyota to get SkillsUSA exposure. That’s one of the reasons we’re here talking now.” He also stressed that auto service technicians at Toyota are in good middle-class jobs and some technicians are making “in the six figures.” The link to the interview is on SkillsUSA’s website at:

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