On Nov. 11, 2019, ISD staff held a Career Tech to Careers signing event with Brian Ferrell, a 2019 graduate of Pellston High School. Ferrell has started a career as a machinist at Lanzen Inc. in Harbor Springs. Career tech classes that Ferrell took at Pellston High School with Roger Armantrout helped prepare him to enter the work force.

Ferrell said he was still uncertain about his future plans upon graduation, and he received help in finding the position at Lanzen through Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) specialist Mike Vandermus. Vandermus set up a tour of Lanzen with Ferrell in August, after which they worked on his resume. He landed the job and started in early October.

“I knew I wanted to get into welding, after taking two years of welding at Pellston. But Lanzen did not have a welding position, so they asked me if I would be interested in a machining position for the time being,” said Ferrell, 18. “Mike helped me get on track and get this position.”

Ferrell works a mandatory 50 hours a week, and sometimes an optional 60, for which he gets paid time and a half. He receives health and 401(k) benefits.

“He’s doing good,” said plant manager Don Schorfhaar. “It’s a lot of hours for a young person, but he’s showing up, interested in learning and stays busy. He is willing to learn and is a polite young man – he gets along with others well.”

Schorfhaar said while it’s not totally uncommon to have such a young person start a career at Lanzen, it’s not typical. However, the company is proud to retain many long-term employees and to provide them with family supporting wages and benefits. They are always looking for skilled workers. “It’s nice to see younger kids moving into manufacturing jobs,” he noted.

Lanzen manufactures various metal fabricated components and assemblies for vehicles and equipment, and its primary customer is the military. In 2017, Lanzen acquired the assets of Demmer Corporation’s local machining operations and expanded.

Ferrell’s career tech instructor, Roger Armantrout, said Ferrell has chosen to overcome some personal hardships to secure his new career and to provide for himself. “Brian is someone who is willing to work hard to succeed, even when circumstances were challenging,” Armantrout said. “He has a good work ethic and had an excellent reference from a previous employer. It’s really cool to see him in here working.”

Vandermus had similar comments about Ferrell’s desire to do well. “When I first met him he was very open and honest and up front. With kids like that, I want to work with them and help them,” Vandermus said. “He has set aside some things to better himself, and it’s rewarding to see him succeed.”

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