Skip to main content

First run of the MiLL  gets rave reviews

Dean Mattson likes to dream big, and then follow through. At the opening of the the MiLL in Colorado Springs, Colo., the founder and president shared his vision for the state-of-the-art training facility: address the numerous issues regarding woodworking industry education and replicate the center nation-wide. So far, so good as the MiLL begins its second year of operation.

“The model is sustainable and it’s working,” Mattson said in an interview with Woodshop News.

Mattson has spent the last three years getting the MiLL (short for Manufacturing Industry Learning Labs) up and running. One of the main issues that he and his colleagues have had to address was how to produce skilled workers to fill the great demand for manufacturing jobs.

“There are lots of jobs open. We asked, how do we offer a service to employers. Companies can’t find employees or grow because of limited staff. We are changing the way we do education in this nation, so nobody is left out. We had to change the entire education format and keep young people interested in the trade. The curriculum was a massive challenge. We had to teach the teachers,” says Mattson

Mattson is moving from teaching full-time to becoming a consultant on MiLL initiatives. John Stearns is replacing Mattson as the lead instructor.

Mattson is consulting with a cabinet manufacturer in Florida who is considering anchoring a second MiLL facility in Hickory, N.C. He also reports the center’s 82 world-wide partners are opening doors as well.

“Stiles’ University is working with us on bringing industry people into the MiLL for a two-week intensive course. Red Rocks Community College has started using our facility and its graduates can go to a two-year degree program right at the MiLL,” he says.

Mattson’s had numerous calls from industry inquiring about in-house training for employees, including Jack Daniels which produces hundreds of white oak barrels per day.

“People are always come to the MiLL and are shocked to see it. So, I’m going to be a transition bridge to help other organizations do this. It does work if you train your staff with this new vision and this new model, and it’s what the industry is seeking and what it wants.

Jennifer Hicks

Jennifer Hicks

“We have proven ourselves. We’ve done everything we could do in career technical education that can be done and more, so we know what we’re doing. And I want other places around the nation to ask us questions, so we can help them.”

To contact Mattson, email

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue.

Related Articles

There’s a price to pay to get the good stuff

When shopping for materials, I’m mostly looking at quality. Sure, I’d like to save a few bucks, but I’m expecting to pay a premium price for premium stock.