Enjoy making things? Find a future as a machinist

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

AVON — When Dave Petron started working at Columbia Gear in Avon more than a quarter-century ago, he was immediately drawn to the job because the final product was something he could actually hold in his hands. 

"You see this is going to make something," he said. "That was the coolest thing when I first started."

"Then you drive by and see a John Deere bulldozer and think, 'Hey, we made that.' You can pick out the parts that you made."

Columbia Gear is a supplier of custom gearing and power transmission products for a number of industries. It is owned by Ohio-based Industrial Manufacturing Company, which has approximately 35 manufacturing, sales and distribution facilities worldwide. 

"Whether it's agriculture equipment, mining equipment, construction equipment, utility-type construction equipment, heavy construction equipment ... we do it all," Petron said. 

Four Holdingford High School students toured Columbia Gear on Dec. 14 to learn more about machining — a career that relies on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. STEM-related careers are the focus of the St. Cloud Times career exploration project, Spark: Igniting Your Future. The project exposes students to career ideas through tours, stories and video. 

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