Tri Star Impacts Local Industry

This file photo from August shows the front of Tri Star 2.0 as seen from state Route 703.
Staff Writer

As construction progress continues to advance at Tri Star 2.0, several companies are making their mark on the future of the career compact and local skilled labor. The further the project advances, the more donations have been coming in, said Tri Star Career Compact Director Tim Buschur.

He listed nine companies that have donated to the project already with several more choosing to remain anonymous and even more who have yet to be announced as donors.

"It's easier [to donate] once they see it and they see other companies getting involved," he said. "The companies that are involved are the ones who get the benefit of the students — automotive, manufacturing, ag mechanic — so they get a positive return on their investment."

Buschur said AAP, Pax Machine Works, Celina Aluminum Precisiton Technology Inc., Celina Insurance Group, Armcorp Construction, Inc., United Equity, Forty Nine Degrees, Midmark Corporation and Cooper Farms have all invested in the compact.

And some of those companies are already starting to see a return on their investment, as Buschur noted that one of the donors has already hired some recent graduates from the program — a move that helps the student and the company.

"Most companies say it's between $7,000 to $10,000 to train somebody so we're saving them if they hire our students," he said. "Since students leave our programs with these skills, the businesses don't have to spend much, if any, on training."

Though it is the future of local companies, Tri Star 2.0 is also the future of the career compact. Even before its completion, Buschur said the building is having a positive impact on the school.

"I think it increases awareness, it gives us a footprint and a central location," he said. "Right now, if you ask 'where is Tri Star?' we're looking at five or six different locations. This gives us a home."

While Buschur is proud of the work on Tri Star 2.0 and the accomplishments that have been achieved under his guidance, he was eager to give most of the credit to those who came 35 years before him.

In the fall of 1974, the state of Ohio mandated that all schools had to meet vocational standards but six levies failed for the Auglaize-Mercer County Joint Vocational School (JVS) in the districts it would have served and the JVS dissolved.

In March of 1983, Celina, St. Marys and Coldwater agreed to create a career compact and Tri Star classes began in August of that year. By September, the six other member schools — St. Henry, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, New Bremen, Minster and New Knoxville — joined Tri Star.

"I look back at when Dave Brunswick and the other founders started all of this, they wanted a JVS and that didn't pass, even the compact gave them a lot of heat," Buschur said. "They had the hard job and now we've added to it.

"Back in 1983, everybody was focused on college and now people see the need for balance between skilled labor and college graduates."

Using the crews working on Tri Star 2.0 as an example, he explained how people of all education levels are equal in the workforce. He said architects with engineering degrees drew up the plans but they need the masons, carpenters, electricians and other contractors to do the work.

"You need some of everybody," Buschur said. "They all have their purpose — none is better than the other."

The director also noted that the building project is bringing the mission of Tri Star full circle as graduates of the program are using the skills learned in the compact to build its new home.

"That's pretty neat," he said.