Christopher Brubaker is the recipient of the inaugural Salute to the Skilled Workforce award from Kinnunen Sales and Rental.
The award, created by Greg Hughes, owner of Kinnunen Sales and Rental, recognizes an outstanding construction trades student at Meridian Technology Center. Stanley Black and Decker’s DeWALT tools is a contributing partner to this year’s award. Students eligible for the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award must have completed one of the school’s programs that includes Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Carpentry, Electrical Technology, Facilities Management or Masonry.
“The demand for skilled workers in the construction industry continues to grow,” Hughes said. “Despite this need, the number of students who choose to pursue this path continues to decline. We want to recognize and reward students who are committed to this industry and building their future at Meridian.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, through the first quarter of 2018, employers across the nation have tried to fill nearly 225,000 each month. Hughes hopes that by bringing attention to the demand for skilled workers that more students will see this as an ideal career path.
“A career in the construction industry should be a part of the conversation in America,” Hughes said. “We’ve got to bring these careers back into the discussion. We want to remind students and parents that it’s possible to have a great paying job in construction. We hope that this award brings awareness to our industry and the construction trades training programs at Meridian.”
The Salute to the Skilled Workforce award includes $1,000 to purchase tools from Kinnunen Sales and Rental. Brubaker will also be recognized on a digital billboard located on 177 facing both north and south headed toward Perkins. Hughes hopes to encourage others in the industry to find ways to recognize construction trades employees. A video about the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award will be shown at the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association national conference in October.
Worthy of a Salute
When Brubaker was in high school, he wasn’t sure what his next steps would be. He enjoyed woodworking and working with his hands, but he didn’t know where that would lead. He enrolled in the Carpentry program at Tech in 2014 hoping to find clarity. Finishing that program in 2016 was just the start for him. He graduated from the Electrical Technology program last year, and in May he completed the Masonry program.
Throughout his time at Tech Brubaker was involved in SkillsUSA, the CareerTech Student Organization associated with his area of study. He served as a SkillsUSA officer beginning in 2016, holding roles as reporter, vice president and president. He was instrumental in chapter fundraising initiatives including donations to St. Andrew’s Thrift Shop, the United Way and other community service projects.
In addition to his leadership roles with SkillsUSA Brubaker participated in student skills contests. He has been a member of the secondary and post-secondary Team Works teams since 2014. This event evaluates the work of four students and their ability to build a construction project over three days. Teams are judged on how they work together as a team, their understanding of project elements based on a detailed blueprint and special instructions, and their ability to work together using carpentry, electrical, plumbing and masonry skills. For the last three years, Brubaker’s team has placed first at the state contest and in the Top 10 at the national level. In June of this year, Brubaker and his teammates won third in the nation.
Brubaker has worked for McKee Construction part time since 2014 and full time since May. One day he hopes to open a custom cabinet shop.
Kinnunen Sales and Rental is a one-stop shop for construction supplies, equipment rentals, parts and service. Ray Kinnunen opened the first location out of his garage in 1991. Four years later he relocated the company to Stillwater. Greg and Wendy Hughes purchased the business in 2013. The company now includes Kinnunen Sales and Rental and the Kinnunen Service Center in Stillwater as well as Kinnunen Sales in Enid.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
Photo: Christopher Brubaker is the recipient of the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award. Greg Hughes, owner of Kinnunen Sales and Rental, established the award to recognize students from Meridian Technology Center who are pursuing a career in the construction trades. Pictured from left to right are Meridian Technology Center Carpentry Instructor Cy Boles, Kinnunen Sales and Rental Owner Greg Hughes, Christopher Brubaker and DeWALT Account Manager Justin Schumacher.