Kinnunen Sales and Rental has been named a Partner for Progress award winner by the Oklahoma Association of Technology Centers.
“This award recognizes businesses and industries that have made outstanding contributions to business improvement, promotion, development and progress through CareerTech education,” said Rebecca Eastham, Executive Director, Business and Industry Services at Meridian Technology Center.
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 Morrison garage in 1991. Four years later, he relocated the company to Stillwater. Greg and Wendy Hughes purchased the business in 2013. Since then the company has expanded and now includes the Kinnunen Service Center in Stillwater as well as Kinnunen Sales in Enid.
As a service and equipment supplier in the construction industry, Kinnunen Sales and Rental understands the importance of safety. With the desire to ensure all team members are safe while at work, on a job site or at home, Kinnunen initially began working with Meridian providing a variety of safety training to Kinnunen employees. This relationship continues today through monthly safety training programs with all Kinnunen staff members.
The Hughes’ promote the importance of developing team members in both technical and relationship skills. For the past five years, Meridian has partnered with the company to provide leadership, supervisory and team building training programs as part of helping the company improve employee engagement and foster a team culture.
Working together, Kinnunen Sales and Rental has improved their safety culture, reduced employee safety incidents, increased retention and enhanced the workplace culture. Their team members frequently partner with the instructors in Meridian’s construction trades programs to provide tours, tool and equipment demonstrations, volunteer as class speakers, and serve on the school’s Business and Education Councils.
“The relationship between Kinnunen and Meridian extends beyond employee training,” Eastham said. “Kinnunen values the partnership with the local tech center, and advocates for the role career and technical education plays in keeping the industry and communities strong. They are a partner in every sense of the word.”
Hughes is passionate about career and technical education and recognizes the demand for skilled workers, especially in the construction industry. In 2018, he created the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award to recognize an outstanding construction trades student at Meridian. 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 Salute to the Skilled Workforce award included $1,000 to purchase tools from Kinnunen Sales and Rental, and the recipient was recognized on a digital billboard. A video about the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award was shown at the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association national conference in October. Stanley Black and Decker’s DeWALT tools was a contributing partner to the inaugural award.
Hughes hopes to encourage others in the industry to find ways to recognize construction trades employees.
Talking about the award, he said, “A career in the construction industry should be a part of the conversation in America. 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.”