High School Students Tour Regional Manufacturers

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

After a brief COVID-related hiatus, manufacturing tours are back! APEX was pleased to help coordinate a tour of regional manufacturing facilities for area high schoolers in April and May. Over 200 students from 12 schools participated in the event, gaining valuable insight into the types of companies and jobs available right here in our region.

These tours are truly transformative, exposing students to skilled and lucrative manufacturing careers close to home.  They connect students with potential manufacturing employers while also connecting the manufacturers with potential future workforce. This connection has proven to be a “win-win”! IPS Cranes, for example, hired an inquisitive Esko student as an intern after he expressed interest during a tour. He was later hired full-time and is receiving financial reimbursement for a 2-year certificate.  GPM had a similar experience where they hired an individual who had been on a prior student tour and could still identify employees who were there the day of his tour.

Twelve regional manufacturers welcomed students, including APEX investor-members Barko Hydraulics, BendTec, Exodus Global, Altec, Cirrus Aircraft and GPM, as well as IPS Cranes, Moline Machinery, K1 Sportswear, Frost River, Sappi and SCS Interiors. At Barko, students became forestry equipment operators, hopping into the cab and learning how to move lumber. That’s the kind of experience that changes career trajectories.

APEX is helping to coordinate another round of manufacturing tours in October, during Manufacturing Month. Those interested in learning more or participating may contact Sandy Johnson, APEX Director of Member Relations and Administration at Sandy@APEXgetsbusiness.com.

Students learning about heavy forestry equipment manufacturing at Barko Hydraulics.


Students exploring the intricacies of steel fabrication and induction bending at BendTec.


Students observing Exodus Global’s manufacturing of attachments used for the demolition and scrap industries.

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