COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The MiLL and Concepts in Millwork, a Colorado Springs commercial casework company, have a long-standing relationship. Concepts in Millwork is a founding partner of The MiLL and has supported students and the vision of The MiLL from the beginning.
Founded in 1980, Concepts in Millwork is a family-owned business and is AWI premium-grade certified and works on many LEED projects. The shop is equipped with a Bargstedt IntelliStore, Weeke Vantech CNC and Holzma CNC panel saw in the machining area. Solid wood, panel products, solid surface material and even metal are fabricated in the shop.
The company sponsors summer internships in their manufacturing area for local students. Students from Peyton Woods and The MiLL have been participants in the summer internship for the past four years.
The internship program started in a 2016 brainstorming session with Scott Robinson, owner of Concepts in Millwork, HR manager Rhynel Evans, Troy Tropp, shop foreman, and Dean Mattson, founder of The MiLL.
Mattson wanted to give advanced students real world experience in a local cabinet shop. Robinson and Evans agreed to come in and speak to the class about careers in the cabinet making industry. From that initial talk, Evans and Robinson identified three young men who showed the passion and desire to work in the industry and agreed to hire them as interns in the summer of 2016.
Those first three students, Colton Pring, Nick Clark and Austin Burke, learned a great deal about the industry in the different sections of the shop. Concepts in Millwork staff learned a great deal about working with 18-19 year olds as well.
“We have learned from past summers and we now have the internship dialed in pretty good.” says shop foreman Troy Tropp. Since 2016, Colton and Austin have moved on to other opportunities. Nick Clark is still on staff at Concepts working as a leader in the casework area. He loves working with his hands and having something tangible he can show for his work at the end of the day.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2019. Four MiLL students applied for the three summer internships that were available. Potential interns have to fill out an application and go to Concepts for an interview. At the end of the process, Concepts decided to expand the internship to all four individuals, they felt all candidates were qualified and would fit in well.
In addition, Peyton Woods/MiLL student Chase Miller, who was already working part-time at Concepts, was added to the internship program for the summer. Tatianna Latorre, Chandon Harris, Tim Blair and Marilie Hill started at Concepts the week after school got out in May. The interns spent three weeks in each of the four areas on the shop floor, casework, solid surface/countertops, machining and millwork. Each area had an adult mentor and an experienced employee on the floor. At the end of each three-week period; interns, mentors, Troy and Rhynel would meet and evaluate progress. Additionally the adult mentors would meet with Troy, Rhynel and Scott Robinson to discuss the value of the program and the progress of interns.
“Being able to work in production was the best experience. I appreciated being able to step into the work field and see how the big guys do it,” said intern Tatianna Latorre.
At the end of the summer, two interns were offered full-time positions at Concepts in Millwork. Chase Miller was hired full time and realized that he really liked working in with solid surfaces. Chandon Harris began working fulltime in the machining area continuing to work on the Stiles machines that he learned to use at The MiLL. Marilie used the experience but realized that commercial casework was not what she wanted to do. Tim and Tatianna are finishing their senior year of high school and are welcome back when they have finished their studies.
“What really impressed me was how fast we could crank products out while still looking good. We learned how to problem solve and lay out our parts in a real world working environment,” said intern Tim Blair.
Tatianna Latorre, while finishing high school this year, has been asked to come in during her school breaks to learn engineering, sales and other parts of the industry. Rhynel Evans is going to take her to recruiting events later in the spring, showing her the HR side of the shop. “I would absolutely tell other students to do this. Of course, of course, of course!” said Latorre.
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