Dylan Cates is the recipient of this year’s 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 & 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 trades 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 says. “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, in 2018 the construction industry had 263,000 job openings. Hughes hopes that by bringing attention to the demand for skilled workers more students will see this as an ideal career path.
The Salute to the Skilled Workforce award includes $1,000 to purchase tools from Kinnunen Sales and Rental. Hughes hopes to encourage others in the industry to find ways to recognize construction trades employees.
Worthy of a Salute
Cates, a homeschool student from Pawnee, graduated this week, having studied in both the Masonry and Computer-Aided Drafting programs at Meridian.
“In CAD, it’s the step before masonry—you’re designing it. In masonry, you’re building it and seeing it come to life,” he says.
Cates has been interested in a career in construction for as long as he can remember.
During his time at Meridian, Cates was a member of National Technical Honor Society, served on the student leadership team, and was president of SkillsUSA, a student organization that builds leadership skills and gives students an opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned in class through state and national competitions.
Student competitions is another area where Cates has excelled. Last year and this year he placed first in the state masonry competition, which required him to build a freestanding wall made of brick and block in a four-hour timeframe. He placed 7th out of more than 30 students at nationals last year. This June will take Cates to Kentucky to compete once again.
After graduating from Meridian, Cates will pursue a bachelor’s in missions from Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City and plans to use his education from Meridian to work while in college and potentially through future mission work.
“Dylan will be an asset to any environment or workplace," says masonry instructor Bret Pickens. "I am most proud of Dylan for the way he conducts himself. He is a team player, exhibits professionalism and is self-motivated.”
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.