Powering Craft Professional Careers Through Skill & Leadership Training

Headquartered in Sioux Center, IA, we meet the electrical and automation needs of customers around the world, but the most impressive thing that we’ve has built is our team. To achieve a culture focused on safety and growth, we depend on a multi-pronged approach to hiring, training, and investing in our employees. Starting with students and moving on through apprenticeships and leadership training, we provide a comprehensive career plan for each member of our team.

High School Graduate to Apprentice

Josh Barber, Regional Director at our Rocky Mountain office, says, “I appreciate the amount of time, energy, and money that our organization invests in developing and providing learning opportunities to its employees. Not just professionally – by training us on new systems, software, best practices, planning, etc. – but also personally, by investing in materials and courses that help us all become better leaders to our families at home and at work.”

This far-reaching strategy for employee development begins with students. The Career Technical Education (CTE) Program is an electrical/instrumentation program involving Northwest Iowa Community College, three local school districts, and Interstates. High school students are offered a head start on college courses and can preview what a career in the trades would look like.

When potential hires graduate high school, tech­nical school, or a four-year college, we are ready for them with an in-house, Department of Labor- and Department of Veteran’s Affairs-ap­proved Apprenticeship training program. The program prepares apprentices to take their journeyman’s electrical licensing exam and have a hand in creating personalized career paths. Since 2002, over 127 employees have completed the Interstates Apprenticeship program. “It’s about creating a pipeline,” says Benj Van Donge, Director of Workforce Operations at Interstates. “After the technical training of the apprenticeship, you can move into crew lead positions like foreman and superintendent. Our goal is for every employee to have a Career Coach, similar to a mentor, to help them with this development and progression,” he says.

Specialized Career Paths

Whether the individual has come up through the Apprenticeship program or one of our many internship opportunities, the focus on career growth continues. Craft professionals from every Interstates location across the country attend yearly Leadership Training seminars at company headquarters. With three different levels of training – Field Leader, Project Manager, and Excellence in Leadership – employees at every stage of their career journey are developed as future leaders of the organization.

“Interstates values the growth of our craft professionals,” says Lowell Reith, Training and Licensing Officer. “They are required to be mentors to those coming up and who will one day replace them. Interstates provides the tools for the craft person so they can do this successfully,” he says, adding that the leadership training program is also beneficial for educating employees about new company programs, methodologies and technical advancements.

Team members lead over 85% of the skills and leadership training provided to employees. The content of the meetings varies widely among the three levels of training, and example topics include discussions on safety procedures and incidents, code updates, culture training, and mobile technology training. In 2019 alone, over 250 employees attended our leadership training sessions.

Leadership Training From Perspectives of Craft Professionals

Many employees have been there for the long haul, starting as interns or apprentices and working their way up or over, depending on where their career aspirations led them within the company. A few of our craft professionals describe what they have learned about the importance of continued leadership training:

From Journeyman Electrician to Regional Director
“I’ve been with the company for 14 years and have attended countless leader training sessions, and each one has helped in my personal and professional growth. I left each training with ideas on how to organize my day-to-day work better, how to bring productivity to my job site and crew, and how I can personally maintain a safe environment for Interstates employees to work in.”

Josh Barber

From Apprentice to Superintendent
“You get the opportunity to grow to whatever level you want at Interstates. The things you learn in the training sessions are important because you take them back to your job site and use them to try to develop the people under and around you.”

Quentin Wright

From Apprentice to Director of Workforce Operations
“We focus on supporting and training individuals starting the day they are hired, arming them with the tools they need to be successful. We pair them up with project Delivery Leaders and Career Coaches to help them along the way, and we talk about big-picture career goals and the opportunities that are available to them.”

Dave Taylor

From Apprentice to Superintendent
“At Interstates, you get to pursue what you want to do. If you’re an electrician and you want to go into estimating or project management, they can get you to that point. There’s a whole world of things you can end up doing.”

Keith Vollink

From HR/Recruiting to Director of Workforce Operations
“A big part of leadership training is safety. If the company you work for believes in safety, they are going to believe in retaining and developing you. It goes all the way back to hiring. We hire people for good, not just a project, so we are going to take care of you.”

Benj Van Donge

Ultimately, focusing on building careers through ongoing training and coaching has led to a unique company culture – one where employees at any level can set and achieve their specific career goals, knowing they will be supported every step from start to finish.


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