Gordon Lumber invests in next generation of young skilled trades workers

Posted on: April 11, 2023

Article by News Herald | Last October, Nick Wuertz, instructor at the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy, walked into Gordon Lumber in Genoa with a small list of things to buy for the school. When he walked out, he had a promise for $10,000 worth of supplies, a $500 invoice, and a mind that was struggling to comprehend what had just happened.

“I went in with a short list of a few materials I planned to purchase for the class. I happened to talk to the store manager, Jay Ellis, and told him what I was buying it for,” Wuertz said. “He got really excited, because there’s such a need for teenagers going into skilled trades.”

Ellis walked Wuertz to a storage area and said he has some supplies for the school. Wuertz explained that the academy operates with a limited budget and couldn’t afford that much material.

“I was shocked to see what was there. I told him we might have to trim the fat off it,” Wuertz said.

Ellis told him not to worry.

School paid $500 for $10,000 worth of materials

“It was almost an entire aisle of different fasteners, from nuts and bolts to cabinet hardware, plus a few bunks of dimensional lumber. We paid $500 for well over $10,000 worth of materials,” Wuertz said. “I was in complete shock over that kind of support. To see that kind of generosity from a local company really says a lot about how much they want young men and women to explore this program.”

On April 5, Gordon Lumber delivered the lumber, for free, to the school. The other materials are taking longer to arrive because each item must be inventoried.

“In the meantime, he told me that if I need anything, I could just come in, grab what I need, and write down the SKU numbers,” Wuertz said. “It was as simple as that. I walk in with a student, grab what I need, and tip my hat to the guy at the door.”

The trades school will graduate 15 seniors in May

The supplies will have an impact on the class, which will graduate 15 seniors in May with the skills to either continue to higher education or place immediately in well-paying jobs. They will enter the workforce with multiple certifications that will help them advance in pay and position quickly.

Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy in Oak Harbor is designed for students who chose not to attend a vocational school earlier in their high school career but decided they wanted to pursue skilled trades as a senior. The school gives them knowledge, experience and certifications in several skilled trades. That one year of education provides a strong foundation for professional success.

“Two of our students will compete at SkillsUSA in Columbus in two weeks,” said instructor Nick Hendrickson. “Gracie Knecht and Jordan Mezur will compete in mechatronics.”

Mechatronics is multidisciplinary field that combines skills in mechanics, electronics and computing, all of which the students learn at the Skilled Trades Academy. Now, thanks to Gordon Lumber, they will have the materials they need to learn even more.

“The generosity from Gordon Lumber speaks volumes about their care and support for the community,” Wuertz said.