Alumni Newsletter - Fall 2017

FALL 2017 • ISSUE 4

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THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE CVTC ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ......................................................................... YOUR ALUMNI NEWS

CVTC Grad Heads Operations at Fire Truck Manufacturer Jim Michal is a 1975 graduate in Machine Tool program ..............................................................................................................................

Chippewa Valley Technical College FireMedic students are training on a new Pierce Manufacturing Co. fire truck, and a CVTC alumnus played a role in the manufacturing. Jim Michal, a 1975 graduate of CVTC’s Machine Tooling Technics program, is the vice president of operations at Pierce in Appleton, Wis. Michal downplays any role he had in actually assembling the Michal said. “We have 1,900 hourly team members and one million square feet of manufacturing space across four plants.” Michal, a Cadott, Wis., native, says the career that led him to be in charge of such an impressive operation started with a decision to pursue a technical trade and begin his education at CVTC. “I was always a hands-on guy, taking all the shop classes in high school,” Michal said. “Then I took a tour of the technical college, and at that time they were placing students in the Machine Tool program at 100 percent.” Michal graduated prepared to start a career as a machinist. He landed at Oshkosh Corp., a manufacturer of specialty trucks and military equipment, thanks to a relative who worked there. He started as a machinist and moved up to a general machinist, learning how to operate all the equipment in the shop. “Being a farm boy didn’t hurt,” he said. “I had a strong work ethic.” Broadening his knowledge made him more valuable to the company, which encouraged him to go to Fox Valley Technical College to study Manufacturing Engineering. Michal was on top of the new computerized processes coming into the industry, and expanded his experience into fabrication and welding. By 1989, Michal was in a supervisory role overseeing 100 people in three shifts. He helped increase plant efficiency by combining machines into cells where multiple processes could be completed at one time. “I learned that at the technical college,” he said. truck. “Well, I’m responsible for the team that manufactures the trucks,”

When Oshkosh merged with Pierce Manufacturing in 1996, Michal worked to combine the manufacturing processes between the two companies, which ultimately led to increased responsibilities and his position today. In 2005, he led the team

that built a $20 million, 175,000- sq.-ft. addition, incorporating Lean Manufacturing into the company. Michal is a strong proponent of technical education. “We work closely with the technical colleges,”

“I was always a hands-on guy, taking all the shop classes in high school.”

he said. “We solicit the students to work here while in technical college. We guarantee them a full-time job when they get out – but only if they graduate.” Michal says education and work ethic are essential for success, along with employee empowerment. He advises employees try different ideas and not be afraid of making mistakes, but learn from the experience. “And good people skills are critical” he says. “Life is totally about alliances. You are only as strong as the team around you.”

CVTC Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2017, Issue 4 • cvtc.edu/Alumni • 715-831-7299 • alumni@cvtc.edu

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