Celebrating Featherlite training center
Wed, 06/06/2018 - 2:23pm admin
Nate Troy, Sports Editor
CRESCO - Rod Blum, the U.S. Representative to Iowa’s First Congressional District, took time out of his schedule to visit the new Featherlite Training Center in Cresco on May 30. He later was the featured speaker at the Howard County Business & Tourism Banquet.
Justin Queensland, Feath-erlite Vice President and General Manager, welcomed the area business people and Congressman Blum to Featherlite.
“We’re extremely happy to have everyone here for the unveiling of the Featherlite Training Center,” Queens-land said. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s the beginning of another journey for this company. Before we get started, I wanted to thank the many people who made this happen. I want to thank Mindy Mihm-Herold, Vice President of Business and Communications Solutions at NICC and Alison Holten also with NICC; Sue Barnes, Director of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; and Tom Barnes, Executive Director of the Howard County Fairgrounds.”
“Also Brittany Carroll, Regional Director for Senator Joni Ernst; Jason Passmore, Executive Director of Howard County Business and Tourism; and along with many other members of the community for making this event possible.
“I want to extend a special welcome to Congressman Blum for joining us. We’re glad to have you here for your support.
“Featherlite has forever been for its quality and craftsmanship. The brand was built on durability and comfort that the owners had that the product was an investment, and it would last a long time.
“There is a lot of pride going into making the best trailers in the industry. That pride exists within these buildings and the folks that assemble the products. Featherlite set the standard for quality over 40 years ago for this industry, and the plan is to continue to raise that bar.
“In order to do that, we need to give our employees the proper tools to do so. Without our employees, it is not there. There is a lot of pride, which comes from our employees. In order to raise the bar, we need to raise what we can offer them as a company.
“The next step in the journey which Tom will talk about is raising the bar. Right now, I want to introduce Tom Wankerl, who is our Senior Human Resources Manager at Featherlite,” Queensland said.
Wankerl thanked Queensland and talked to the crowd.
“Thank you to everyone for spending their time with us today,” Wankerl said. “We really appreciate it. Everyone has heard of the Federal Trade Commission, called the FTC, right? My single goal here is to convince you that FTC actually stands for Featherlite Training Center.
“Seriously though, the hard work and dedication of many people has resulted in this (the Featherlite Training Center). It’s a continuation of Featherlite’s committment to providing quality jobs to Iowans and residents within the local communities.
“Featherlite, like many other employers, has long provided job training for its employees. The creation of this training center, along with the specific dedication and allocation of resources, coupled with the continued formalization of training practices and procedures, is going to significantly advance our job training capabilities.
“Everyone knows that it goes above and beyong job training. It’s about providing employees with critical life skills and trade skills. It’s about preparing them and training them for a career. It’s about giving employees the opportunities to contribute and succeed.
“I think the key focus (for the training center) and the opportune word is opportunity. That word, opportunity, definitely extends in both directions. Through efforts, such as our Featherlite Training Center, Featherlite continues to provide skilled, trade and career opportunities to its employees. But our employees in turn provide us with the opportunity to continue the Featherlite legacy and the opportunity to position ourselves for future growth opportunities.
“The employees of Featherlite have designed and manufactured trailers and transporters for customers all over the globe. I get lost often times when I’m walking through the manufacturing plant, just looking at what we create right here.
“We’ve hand-crafted trailers for high-tech military operations, Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. We’ve hand-crafted trailers and transporters for humanitarian organizations whose reach is worldwide.
“The Featherlite name is recognized for nationally and internationally, but many don’t realize that those trailers and transporters are made right here in Cresco. But we haven’t gotten here alone. We have partnerships with local organizations, such as the Howard County Business and Tourism office and Northeast Iowa Community College, which have extended for years.
“NICC has been instrumental in partnering with us to provide continued and advanced training for our employees. When you talk about the Howard County Business and Tourism office, who can walk in there, talk with Jason Passmore, and not leave feeling more optimistic?
“I also want to thank the many Featherlite employees which have made (the training center) a reality. Though too many to name individually, I want them to know that the part of their legacy will be the continuation of their committment to training and preparing those who will follow in their footsteps.
“Just as this training center, just a few short years ago, was an old storage and maintainance facility, but now it has transformed itself into this, which is an employee training center, Featherlite will continue to evolve and provide quality jobs and careers in the community. I will now introduce Congressman Blum,” Wankerl said.
Blum then addressed the crowd.
“It’s great to be back in Howard County,” Blum said. “We were here (in the county) a couple weeks ago to visit Upper Iowa Beef. I’m sure they have the same concerns as Featherlite, which is finding employees.
“It’s so refreshing to know that Featherlite is working with NICC in Cresco. I represent a quarter of the state of Iowa, and we are blessed with amazing community colleges in my district. The community colleges do a good job of partnering with the private sector and preparing kids for jobs,” Blum said.
The congressman also gave kudos to Featherlite for its success.
“I want to congratulate Featherlite. I understand they’ve been in Cresco for 40 years and have 500 employees now, which is an unbelievable story.
“I consider myself a business person, and I believe in the private sector, which is where prosperity is created. The strong private sector made America what it is today. I was happy to vote for the tax cuts and jobs act, which allows companies like Featherlite to write off the year they incur capital expenditures. By doing that, they reduce their tax burden, and they are able to pay their employees more and hire more people,” Blum said.
Following Blum’s comments, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held inside the Featherlite Training Center. After the ribbon cutting, Blum and others in attendance toured the interior of the Featherlite plant.