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High school students get a look at construction trades

By Mike Marturello mmarturello@kpcmedia.com

Mar 6, 2019

ANGOLA — Randy Strebig started out in the construction business as a young man, fresh out of school, building sheds and selling them to people.

That developed into a successful career in the general contracting business, Strebig Construction, which builds everything from houses to significant commercial buildings, including the hangar at the Tri-State Steuben County Municipal Airport.

Strebig, who splits his time between Lake James and Fort Wayne, gave the introductory comments to high school students who attended the first Construction Careers Workshop sponsored by the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday.

If he only would have known that his education in high school was going to be so instrumental in his career, he might just have put more effort into it, Strebig quipped.

Strebig and representatives of 10 other disciplines related to construction, along with Ivy Tech Community College and Freedom Academy, worked in stations set up in the Steuben Enterprise Center.

Students learned about everything from laying concrete to interior design. And there were hands-on exercises where participants could learn about finishing concrete to framing walls.

The event, offered to all Steuben County schools and other schools in the area, was the brainchild of SCEDC board member Craig Ralston, a former industrial arts instructor and now a Realtor who had been involved in a similar program when he was teaching in Fort Wayne.

In addition to Strebig, other companies represented at the event included Wagler & Associates, Ross Electrical, Car Masonry, Pranger Enterprises, King Concrete, Armstrong Heating & Cooling, JICI, Jack Laurie, and Scott Wilson welding.

The objectives of the career fair included:

Educating high school students about construction industry career options and bridging the gap between classrooms to jobsites;

Provide an awareness of apprenticeships and formal training opportunities in the trades after high school, as well as educational needs to succeed in the construction industry;

Show students a variety of skills needed by professional contractors.

The workshop also provided an opportunity to learn about the varied occupations in the building trades and get to meet with experts locally who are in the business, some of whom might become their employers in the future.