Industry After Hours
K.I. SAWYER — A lot of industry is packed into the buildings scattered across K.I. Sawyer.
Not all the buildings at the former air force base are occupied, but the ones that are have job and training opportunities for people wanting to enter their fields.
An “Industry After Hours” event took place Oct. 9 at four businesses — 906 Electricians-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Sheet Metal Workers Local 7, Global Response and Bahrman’s Trucking — that offered a glimpse into their operations.
Jim Yates, Career and Technical Education consultant with the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency, spent time at the 906 Electricians site, located at 304 Avenue A.
“It’s another career awareness opportunity for students and adult learners and job seekers to come find out what it wouid be like to work in one of these occupations and educational pathways to get there,” said Yates, who mentioned the variety of trades represented during the event.
Some trades, for example, don’t require the traditional educational path.
“They offer opportunities you can get into without a four-year degree,” Yates said.
The event also gave the businesses a chance to showcase what they have to offer, their facilities and how they help support the community, Yates said.
Brooke Quinn, a business development representative with the Lake Superior Community Partnership, said the LSCP acknowledges the importance of trades in the region.
“We’re very keen on promoting trades and promoting the job opportunities that are available within our own local community that not many people may know about or even think about,” Quinn said.
The event also put attention on K.I. Sawyer and its businesses, which she noted could show how people can benefit from them.
Ryan Stern, business representative for Sheet Metal Workers No. 7, also located at 304 Avenue A, said apprentices come to the site two days a month for training, with half of the schooling focusing on welding to allow students to become certified in that field.
The other half is geared toward duct work.
“We teach apprentices how to take a piece of flat metal, how to lay it out properly and have it be certain sizes, and applications,” Stern said.
Apprentices, he said, learn through computer-aided drafting and design, or if they perform their work on paper, they program it into the computer, taken it to the burn table, and then burn and form it.
Stern appreciates the fact the site is at K.I. Sawyer; since he covers the Upper Peninsula, the central location is good for him, plus it’s a quiet setting.
Global Response, 411 3rd St., is an outsourced call center that offers customer service, app technical advice, inbound and outbound sales, email response, live chat, social media and analytics.
The interior of the business belies the building’s more modest exterior, with modern amenities, bold colors, state-of-the-art training rooms and a big break room.
“We try really hard,” said Sheri Kugler, project manager and recruiter. “Our agents are stuck to the phone all day.”
Training requirements are a high school diploma or GED, basic computer skills such as Excel and passing a background check, she said, although knowledge of online shopping is valuable.
“If you can place an order online for yourself on Amazon, you can work here,” Kugler said. “That’s what we do.”
Customers include Crate & Barrel and Lane Bryant, among many others.
Greg Bahrman owns Bahrman’s Trucking at 404 1st St.
“We do all local transportation in what I call the northern Great Lakes area,” Bahrman said, with most of the company’s transportation in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.
The trucks run seven days a week in day and night shifts, he said.
Bahrman said his company focuses on the wood industry and its products, including logs, bark, chips and other materials — ” any way you can dice up a tree.”
The company also transports finished wood products, and in fact has a customer who makes carbon out of wood, he said.
Many good companies thrive by expanding, and that is part of the plan at Bahrman’s Trucking.
“We’re branching out of just the wood industry,” said Bahrman, and maybe that’s no pun intended. The company is moving toward transporting repurposed materials.
For instance, Bahrman’s is working with a company out of Green Bay, Wisconsin that takes non-recyclable papers and plastic, which are classified as industrial waste, and presses it. Bahrman said his company then hauls it to L’Anse, where it’s burned for electricity.
To work for his company, Bahrman suggested attending a truck driving school such as the CLD NMU Trucking Driving School at Northern Michigan University where students can earn their commercial driver’s licenses.
“One of their professors actually drives for us on his off time,” Bahrman said. “He started here as a full-time employee.”
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.