This past fall, our Lubbock, TX office team was busy living out the three whys of Interstates—providing opportunities, making a difference, and pursuing a better way. Interstates' Adam Jeninga, Continuous Improvement Lead, begins to tell the story.
Making an Impact on a Local College
Beth Smith, Lubbock, TX Office Coordinator, asked about several returned DeWalt Kits from team members who were no longer at Interstates. Jeninga wondered if we could donate them somewhere. He smiled, "Well, Beth was a couple of moves ahead of me. She already had a plan."
Smith continues the story, sharing that the idea sparked when a recruiter and two other team members were going to visit South Plains College (SPC) in Lubbock, TX. "This school is special to this office because so many of our apprentices attended South Plains College." To support this school, the Lubbock office teamed up with Adam Jeninga to make a substantial tool donation. They used returned tool kits, about $4,000 of equipment, to the South Plains College Electrical Technology Program.
Jeninga used his connection to our tool crib, where we store and send our tools, to make this donation happen. "[SPC Electrical Technology Program] was in need of several items that we had. These kits are our standard kits that we hand out to all new hires. They include a drill, impact, bandsaw, and flashlight, as well as several batteries and chargers - exactly the tools we would like them to be trained on." However, we no longer used these specific kits, so they were waiting to be returned to storage.
Mike O'Donnell, Regional Manager for Lubbock, TX office, was also excited about giving to SPC. "We are proud to support and give back to the local community, especially great programs like the Electrical Technology program at South Plains College." O'Donnell continues, "Interstates depends on quality programs like this to produce qualified electricians. Thirty percent of our current craft team members at the Texas office have graduated from South Plains College, and we will continue to tap into this invaluable resource for future hiring needs."
South Plains College Training Future Electricians
SPC provides excellent preparation for students to enter the workforce. It has industry-approved electrical courses to meet the industry's needs and students' goals. One past graduate reflected that they spent a whole day on bending conduit. Instructors also ensure students receive hands-on work. Smith said, "It's very expensive to provide enough supplies for their students [for this practice]."
Alonso Holguin, former SPC student and now electrician with our Texas office, said, "I feel like [the program at SPC] definitely does help, so you don't feel so blindsided when you get in the field. You can come in with some relief and comfort by having some familiarity with some of the tools and materials. That, along with being paired with a good mentor here at Interstates, you can start learning with confidence and strengthen your craft much faster." Joseph Hecht, Interstates electrician and recent graduate of the program, agrees with Alonso. "It helps knowing some of the terminology and how to use some of the tools. It set me on the right path and helped me learn the basics."
Diana Malone, SPC's electrical and power transmission instructor, is incredibly grateful for the equipment donation. She's excited for students to use the tools in the upcoming semester. "They sit beautifully on the shelf, waiting for students to use them beginning January 17. In the meantime, I anticipate more engagement and less frustration among students, as we previously shared one impactor and drill for up to 24 students in our hands-on lab. I also expect fewer to no minor cuts because of the gloves, which will undoubtedly help students and reduce my stress. Moreover, I foresee more skilled students emerging because of the conduit, cable tray, connectors, and other equipment and materials."
A Team Effort Leads to Positive Change
Team members from the office did more than just hand over the items. They helped choose what to donate. Michael Ramirez, an estimator in the office, even cleaned all the tools and tested them to ensure everything worked properly. "By the time he was finished, they looked brand new, Smith told us." They even contributed things like PPE, notepads, and pens.
"The whole experience was positive," Smith adds. "Since the donation, we've continued to stay in touch with the school." One way the office is doing this is by setting up "Demo and Lecture Days," thanks to the idea from O'Donnell. Hopefully, it will give students a place for hands-on training. They also are seeing how to recycle and donate leftover materials, like conduits, from projects. It helps the school and declutters the office storage space.
Smith continues to tell her excitement, "As a newer office, we want to become a part of the Lubbock community. We've made donations to several charities over the years, and each has been rewarding. However, donating to a school that puts that much effort into preparing its students for the electrical field was really gratifying." Jeninga added, "Almost immediately, the tools were built a new home – all wired up for charging."
Smith says in closing, "On behalf of the Lubbock, TX Office, I'd like to thank Adam Jeninga for his role in helping us achieve this. We would also like to thank Interstates for being a company that allows us the opportunity to do this...I'm proud of what we accomplished together." And we're thankful for team members like Beth Smith and many others finding creative ways to impact their community.