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Arlington's HCI donates $20,000 in steel to EvCC

From left, Arlington HCI Plant Manager Phil Sasser, Everett Community College welding instructor Dan Minzel and Arlington HCI Plant Superintendent Buzz Tompkins are dwarfed by the 30,000 pounds of steel that HCI Steel Building Systems of Arlington donated to the Everett Community College welding and fabrication program Aug. 5. Arlington
From left, Arlington HCI Plant Manager Phil Sasser, Everett Community College welding instructor Dan Minzel and Arlington HCI Plant Superintendent Buzz Tompkins are dwarfed by the 30,000 pounds of steel that HCI Steel Building Systems of Arlington donated to the Everett Community College welding and fabrication program Aug. 5. Arlington's HCI donates $20,000 in steel to EvCC
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

EVERETT An Arlington steel company donated 30,000 pounds of steel to Everett Community College Aug. 5. Both the company and the college see it as an investment in their shared future.

HCI Steel Building Systems of Arlington, a BlueScope Steel company, presented the EvCC welding and fabrication program with more than $20,000 worth of steel on a flatbed truck, to be used for hands-on training by about 260 students.

Dave Hile and Bryce Hebner are two of those students, and they both hail from Arlington. Hebner is currently enrolled in his second quarter, while Hile enrolled in the spring of 2006 and is now an advanced student who serves as a support technician for the program. Hile's tasks include taking delivery of steel shipments, taking other students' questions and performing maintenance and cleanups.

"This shipment will provide the practice material for a lot of the next year," Hile said. "We couldn't operate without donations of this magnitude."

"It's an awesomely generous move," agreed Hebner, who, like Hile, plans to seek a career in welding.

Arlington HCI Plant Superintendent Buzz Tompkins and Plant Manager Phil Sasser greeted EvCC welding instructor Dan Minzel at the school's welding lab. Minzel informed them that enrollment in the school's welding and fabrication program has doubled during the past four years, while Tompkins was quick to praise the program based on personal experience.

"It was almost 20 years ago exactly that I was a student here," Tompkins said. "I'd call that a success story. I might not be comfortable with this if I didn't already know the school."

Tompkins went on to cite HCI's success story in Arlington, noting that the company is increasing its welding by 100 percent, which means that their facilities are expanding beyond the single building which used to house their whole operation.

Minzel praised HCI in turn for giving the school's program the input to customize its training, so that its students can better meet the needs of HCI and other employers.

"It's a more European model, like Mercedes-Benz," said Minzel, who agreed with Tompkins that there will soon be a shortfall of skilled welders, once many of today's most experienced welders start retiring.

"I wish more companies would take charge of their own futures, like HCI has done by partnering up with us," Minzel added, noting that HCI is part of the EvCC welding and fabrication program advisory committee.

EvCC welding and fabrication students are trained to fit and fabricate metal from start to finish. Minzel described the school as having one of the only programs in the state that teaches heavy plate fabrication, pipe fitting, sheet metal fabrication and use of the computer-operated CNC plasma cutter in a single program.

HCI manufactures pre-engineered steel buildings, such as the Seahawks' new Lake Washington training facility. The company currently employs at least a dozen EvCC graduates out of its 130 employees in Arlington.

HCI was purchased by BlueScope Steel, an international company, in November of last year. The company has been located in Arlington for more than 20 years.

Everett Community College accepts a wide variety of materials as in-kind donations.

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