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Shark Industries makes $80,000 welding equipment donation to MSC Southeast

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Friday the 13th is a lucky day for MSC Southeast as Shark Industries makes $80,000 welding equipment donation

Shark Industries LogoNext time the phone rings as you're leaving the office for the day, turn around and answer it. Even if it's Friday the thirteenth.

That's what MSC Southeast Dean of Trade and Technology Travis Thul did late on a Friday afternoon in January. He was on his way out the door for a three-week trip away from the college when the phone rang. "I almost didn't answer, but for some reason I felt like I should get it," he says.

It was lucky that he did. When he picked up the phone, Paul Reschke of Shark Industries out of Rockford, MN, was on the other end of the line. He said he had eight full sized pallets of brand new welding equipment available for donation.

"Mr. Reschke told me that he had been trying to give this material away to other colleges, but everyone else had failed to pick up the phone or wanted them to go through the donation piece by piece and only take the parts they wanted," explains Travis. "I checked in very quickly with our Welding Technology Program lead instructor, Casey Mann, who told me whatever happens, just take it all!"

It was indeed a lucky day for Minnesota State College Southeast as Shark Industries made a donation of $80,000 worth of welding supplies and equipment to the college. 

"We were looking for someone who could benefit from being able to use these materials, and we thought -- who could benefit more than a local college that teaches welding? This is in turn beneficial for both industry and the community," says Paul Reschke. "So we were delighted when Minnesota State College Southeast not only accepted the donation, but also made immediate arrangements to come pick it up themselves."

Casey Mann and Truck Driving instructor Tom Gierok came in on their next day off, January 20, and drove one of the college's semi trailer trucks to Rockford. "They were expecting us and were really helpful. They had us loaded up in 10 minutes," according to Casey. 

Shark Industries - LogoIt took about two weeks to sort everything out -- including Saturdays. "It was like Christmas around here," says Casey. "Every time we opened up a pallet it was something totally new."

The donated items were immediately distributed among the Auto Body Collision Technology, Automotive Technology, CNC Machine Tool, Industrial Technology, and Welding Technology programs in both Winona and Red Wing. Even the college's maintenance department benefited from the donation.

"We received a lot of welding rods, a lot of consumables for welding. Helmets, gloves, safety glasses, face shields, goggles -- we'll be using that stuff for years," notes Casey. "We were able to share some of the donated items with area high schools, too."

Just as an example, the welding program might spend $1000 to $1500 a semester on welding rods. Saving that money can make a big impact on the program. "Now if I need something, that money's available, but if I don't need it, the money goes back into balancing the college's budget," Casey states.

"Donating these items to someone who can put them to good use is just the right thing to do. But having the college come pick it up themselves was incredible -- it won't be forgotten next time we have excess inventory like this," says Paul Reschke.

"We are just overwhelmed by the generosity of Shark Industries in making this gift to Minnesota State College Southeast, and we hope we can make this a long-term partnership," says Travis Thul. "I still can't believe how lucky it was that I picked up that phone call!"

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