The businesses who support our mission are an invaluable part of our team. They help to make what we do possible by volunteering their time, materials, space, and so much more. This week, we caught up with Eric Swenson, a member of the Sales & Marketing team at Gag Sheet Metal, Inc. (GSM) in New Ulm, MN. We learn more about how GSM is affected by the skilled trade’s gap and why this inspired them to get involved with Big Ideas.

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Pictured: Eric Swenson

Why is it important to GSM to educate the next generation in the skilled trades?

It is becoming more and more difficult to find people that have been properly trained with a skilled trade. Our company covers a variety of trades and the labor pool keeps getting smaller. There are not enough opportunities for individuals to experiment and discover their hands-on skills to launch them in a very promising career.

What attracted you to become involved with Big Ideas?

Big Ideas is helping with the awareness that it is rewarding and very promising for individuals to work in the trades. We are short on young, talented people in the workforce, so it is very encouraging that we have Big Ideas in our community to highlight skilled labor.

What does your involvement with Big Ideas include?

We really like Big Ideas mission, so we are always willing to support them with instructors in any of our trades.

How have you seen the skills gap/shortage of skilled trade workers affect local New Ulm employers?

The hiring process is very challenging. It is difficult to train and retain employees. Especially if they start in a trade and realize it is not for them. The process starts over. Big Ideas will give individuals the chance to try something before committing to a career.


Thank you, Eric, for sharing these incredible insights with us! We truly value the relationship we have with GSM.

If your company is interested in becoming involved with Big Ideas, contact us today to discuss your options!