Mount Pleasant High School - Lee Company sponsored table | Nashville Christian Family Magazine - Free Christian Magazine

There’s no doubt about – we need more people in the trades. In 2008, we started Lee Company University (LCU) because we knew we needed to provide opportunities to our people to teach trade skill development.

But who’s to say skills training shouldn’t happen before high school ends? Most often, by the time a high school student is in their junior year, they’ll know if they’re going to college or not. If they choose not, then while in high school, why couldn’t they get started on a trades career … especially if the opportunity is available?

Our dream is to expand our LCU vision and establish trade programs in local high schools so students can graduate and have other options in addition to college. This trade training would include opportunities for students to apply to work with our Lee Company team once they complete their program. In doing this, we’re creating a pipeline for potential hires in our industry. This benefits our employment needs, but furthermore, it assists in building better communities by building up the trade industry.

We started in partnership with Mount Pleasant High School. The 2021-2022 school year was the first to host an HVAC co-op program – and it was a huge success! As the program grows, we’ll add additional trades like electrical and plumbing to the curriculum. The plan is to take the successful model and replicate it in additional schools in various counties around Middle Tennessee and beyond.

I was eager to get involved with this vision because I was a high school student who did a co-op program with Lee Company when I started my career. I want to give these young men and women a chance to make a good living. I want to help them provide a good life for their families. It’s exciting for me to spend time with these students – to share my story and career path with Lee Company, and the opportunities I’ve been presented with. There are many things someone can do after school is done, and the trades are meaningful and purposeful in life.

A huge thanks to Trane, who donated the equipment for the HVAC lab and Ed’s Supply for help with materials. Another thanks to our Lee Company residential electrical team who supplied and ran power for the work environment, and many employees from our residential HVAC group who donated time and helped with coordinating the setup of the lab.

The cherry on top of the sundae is we’ve officially hired our first co-op student! Trey F. had a fantastic year in lab, learning about HVAC theory and repair, and he’s officially started his Lee Company career!

Dean Schnakenberg, Senior Training Manager with Lee Company

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