This is the first edition of Career Corner and what we plan to have as a monthly offering of information to readers and more specifically residents, parents, and students, who are our future workforce and our future in so many ways!
First, let me introduce myself as the submitting author. My name is Harold Niehaus, and I am a long-time resident and educator here in Preble County. As such, I have had the opportunity to educate many students and work with many parents and community members over the years. Just last year I was given the opportunity to apply and become employed at the Preble County Educational Service Center (ESC) in a new position called Career Connections Director. This position is the result of a partnership of all five county schools and MVCTC with additional support by Henny Penny. The main purpose of the position is to work with all students K-12 to help them become more aware of career opportunities, to explore various careers, and to plan for their career choices.
I have to admit that this has been a great opportunity for me personally to perform this work. As part of this work, I have met with elementary students and shared a “career toolbox” where they can actually hold and learn about various tools used in many different career jobs. I have also met with high school students in “Career Consultations” and individually discussed their next steps in a career that will fulfill their personal goals and provide financial stability. Much of this work, while affected by the pandemic, has already provided students with life-changing experiences and internship/apprenticeship opportunities.
In these monthly submissions, I hope to include thoughts or reflections to help Preble County students, parents, and residents to think about and reflect on the topic of careers as well as life-long learning and the opportunities that are right here in our county!
So, with that stated, I would like to take the opportunity to share information about a Preble County business that recently started a Registered Apprenticeship opportunity. First, I want to explain the difference between an internship and a registered apprenticeship for those who may have questions in their mind. An internship a position for a student or trainee to work in an organization/business, possibly with or without pay, to gain work experience. A registered apprenticeship is a program supported by the United States Department of Labor that provides the apprentice with paid on-the-job learning and academic instruction over a pre-determined time frame which will allow them to learn the needed skills for continued future employment in that industry or career.
As mentioned earlier, one of our very own businesses here in Preble County recently created a Registered Apprenticeship opportunity. This business is Lewisburg Container who is a part of the much larger Pratt Industries. As many of you may know, Lewisburg Container resides in Lewisburg and has a long-standing history as a part of Preble County. I would like to end this edition of “Career Corner” by sharing the history of Lewisburg Container in the bulleted timeline below:
• Lewisburg Container was founded in 1940 making wood crates to support the war effort. After the war the made wood bases for NCR, Frigidaire, and others.
• The company went bankrupt in 1955 and was bought by Mr. Robert Love, who owned a corrugated box plant in Wichita Kansas called Love Box Company.
• Mr. Love sent Sheldon McKinney — the plant manager in Wichita — and his son, Jim McKinney to get the business started.
• Jim decided to stay after the start-up and ran the company for the next 45 years before turning the reins over to his son David.
• In 1956, Lewisburg had a major fire that destroyed the plant; fortunately, Mr. Love believed strongly in the business and decided to rebuild. After the fire, the company continued to grow the business by adding wood pallets and wood corrugated crates to their product offering. In the mid-1960s they introduced a heavy industrial packaging line of products.
• In the mid-1970s, Lewisburg bought a wood mill in Kentucky to integrate their wood operation.
• In the early 1980s, the company decided to sell the mill and get out of the wood business, which was starting to be replaced by corrugated packaging. The company shifted its focus to corrugated boxes and experienced tremendous growth over the next 20 years, becoming a pioneer and nationally recognized leader in high-end printing on corrugated boxes.
• By 1985, the business had outgrown its original facilities, and commissioned Miller-Valentine Group with building a new 120,000 square foot facility which was inaugurated a year later.
• The company continued to grow through the 1980s and 1990s and expanded the building again in 1991 adding an additional 30,000 square feet of space to the new building, and expanded again in 1996 adding another 100,000 square feet.
• In 2005, the Love family sold their businesses to Pratt Industries creating even more growth opportunities for Lewisburg Container.
• In 2014, Pratt Industries built a new state of the art corrugated facility next to Lewisburg Container. The new Pratt Industries facility is connected to Lewisburg Container by a tunnel which is used to supply the corrugated sheet raw materials that Lewisburg Container uses to manufacture packaging.
• This investment nearly doubled Pratt Industries’ footprint in the town of Lewisburg, both in the size of the buildings and the number of people employed by the two facilities.
• In 2019, Pratt Industries invested again in the business with $25 million worth of new state of the art packaging equipment to ensure Lewisburg Container continues its success into the future.
I want to thank Sergio Morales, General Manager at Lewisburg Container and his contributing “historians” for the information provided as well as all of the efforts to create the registered apprenticeship for Industrial Manufacturing Technician. For more information on this registered apprenticeship, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-456-1187 ext.123.