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Indiana business offers outlet for students

Advanced Cabinet Systems in Marion, Ind., has developed an educational program that encourages area high school students to consider careers in the woodworking industry.

The company, which averages 25 to 30 employees, manufactures plastic laminate casework and retail store fixtures and also offers architectural millwork on an as-needed basis. Its leaders developed what they’re calling the “myShop program” as an extension of the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s Adopt-A-Shop program. The program involves partnering with local schools and discussing with their students careers in the industry such as sales, marketing, regulatory compliance, engineering and carpentry.

“The myShop program consists of our company inviting students from local schools to our facility. We do a plant tour to mentor students and hopefully get them interested in careers in woodworking,” ACS creative director Mark Dunker says.

“The ultimate goal, of course, is that we want to develop a future workforce within the woodworking industry. A lot of schools are getting rid of their woodworking programs so we’re trying to compensate for that by offering programs like this.”

In the next five years, the company will continue developing the program by including more job-shadow and internship opportunities and eventually prepare itself to hire students at the facility. The program is currently limited to schools within Marion Country where the business is situated. Dunker describes the company’s efforts as a way to locally address what the AWI is doing to help resolve a national problem.

“I think the reason woodworking is dying off is that high schools are pushing towards college-level curriculums and avoiding exposing children to trades. I think they’re going towards that and the economy has played a role in that. Schools are likely going to cut woodshop and similar courses, if anything, and we look at it as a disservice for students who would have thrived in woodshop, but no longer have that option available.”

Contact: Advanced Cabinet Systems, 1001 E. 38th St. Marion, IN 46953. Tel: 765-677-8000.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue.

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