In this in-depth interview, Peterson tells the story of purchasing Schuette Metals and turning it into one of the premier custom fabricators in the United States. With its growth came the need for additional hiring of skilled labor in the area. An aging workforce and lack of people entering the trades led Peterson and other key manufacturers to create the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturers Alliance (CWIMMA).
“Looking at the demographic in the area, with people retiring, it was pretty obvious that we could lose a lot of the industry if we weren’t forward-looking in planning for the next generation workforce,” says John Peterson.
Peterson began working with local high schools, bringing in virtual reality simulators that allow students to try welding and see what the job is like. It was such a success that the schools held a banquet, and some top students were brought into Schuette Metals to learn how to weld.
According to Peterson, “We brought their parents into our facilities so they could see there was robotic welding, lasers, and a clean facility. We wanted to change the perception of manufacturing and show them it could be a viable career path for their children.”
Since those early efforts, the initiative has grown substantially. As CWIMMA grew into an organization with more than 60 manufacturers, and with the help of local workforce development, the program has flourished. The group then added “The Heavy Metal Tour,” a program that goes to middle schools to educate children about manufacturing. Peterson has spearheaded creating an ecosystem of education that is changing the regional workforce’s complexion in Wisconsin.
This in-depth interview provides insight into the story of Schuette Metals and their effort in supporting and contributing to the work of CWIMMA.
John Peterson is CEO at Schuette Metals and founding member of the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturers Alliance (CWIMMA). Schuette Metals is a leading full-service metal fabricator providing products using advanced technologies since 1957. As a metal fabricator, Schuette Metals manufactures components used in finished products by a variety of OEMs in sectors including architectural, agricultural, construction, defense, industrial, and access equipment.
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