One Day. Two Busloads of Students. Three Steps.


One Day. Two Busloads of Students. Three Steps.

Welcoming the future of the industry

“A college education may not be for everyone and when you hear about the building industry and jobs we have to offer, most kids think it is all hard labor and low paying jobs, when in fact it is an automated world driven by computers,” highlighted Luke Wiesen, General Manager of Millard Lumber Inc. in Springhill, Kansas, “From 2-D layouts and drawings to 3-D modeling in design and estimating, to full automation in saws and production, to new framing techniques, we need to introduce the next generation to all of this.”  

Collaborating with the Continuing Technical Education Board, Wiesen focused on outreach efforts to the younger generation in his area and presented them to the industry by organizing a full day program with two busloads of Spring Hill High School students through a three-step process.  A total of 75 participants included 72 students from construction technology and CAD drafting classes joined by the school’s principal, a design class instructor and the guidance counselor all spent a day with Millard Lumber in November 2015. 


Bring students to the plant and provide a presentation on the industry, careers available and the future for the industry, followed by a plant tour of all departments. “We wanted to show the process of truss fabrication from the initial concept to production and installation. We started with the design/estimating center, the lumber yard, the roof truss plant and the wall panel plant,” explained Wiesen. 


Provide a quick overview of what happens to the product, after it leaves the plant. “We took the students to an onsite job of a Millard Lumber customer (Inspired Homes) and we walked through a residential home in the framing stage and went into the science behind erecting floor trusses, wall panels and roof trusses. We also talked about the benefits of floor sheathing,” said Wiesen.


Combine lunch and a question and answer session to close out the day, back at Millard Lumber. “The questions were across the board from specifics on working for a framing crew to more general industry and career-related ones,” said Wiesen, “Students asking questions were also given a t-shirt.”

“We told students that Millard Lumber hires without experience and trains on the job and students were instructed to contact their guidance counselor if they were interested,” explained Wiesen. “If someone is 18 years old and gets into the industry, is willing to learn, then he’s got a long career ahead of him to grow within the industry. There are fast paced opportunities available. Presently, we have a young man working for us who expressed an interest in design and I told him to achieve that goal, you first need to work in the plant and see how it is all done before you move into design and drafting. That’s exactly what he did.  He spent his first six months in the plant and has been in the design department for the past six months.” 

Wiesen explained the process of getting all the students to the plant was quite time consuming, from the initial discussion to getting on the CTE Board agenda to consent forms and approvals to busing, but stressed that “after the work done with this school, we can line up to work with other high schools in the area.” 

“My big push here is that we need to get the younger generation in to our industry.  As we are getting older, we need to have someone fill that void,” emphasized Wiesen. “The younger generation needs to learn about our industry and it’s our job to expose them to it.”  

Family-owned and locally operated, Millard Lumber has been a supplier of building materials and home products for over 68 years. Millard Lumber was an early manufacturer of roof trusses, pre-manufactured wall sections and pre-hung doors and has since stayed in the forefront of advanced building techniques.

Today, Rick Russell and his management team, including his two sons, Joel and Mark, run the family-owned Nebraska-based business, along with over 200 associates at the Omaha, Waverly and Spring Hill locations. While Millard Lumber has experienced tremendous growth, our vision has remained the same for more than half a century: to help people achieve their goals of homeownership and pursue the American Dream while providing quality building materials and services that exceed our customers’ expectations.

About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined the SBCA membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has experience writing for a variety of media.

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