An integral part of our commitment to igniting change and building awareness around skilled trades is leveraging partnerships with respected businesses in the communities we serve. One invaluable business we work with is SpecSys (Specialty Systems), a RITALKA company. SpecSys has gone above and beyond in its support of Big Ideas, providing everything from volunteer support to material donations all in order for our team to be able to pursue our organizational initiatives.

Recently, we had the opportunity to visit with Kristine Wald, Senior Vice President of RITALKA. Here’s what she had to say.

Q: What made the RITALKA team excited to partner with Big Ideas?
A: SpecSys has a vision statement that says, “Embrace those who respect, honor and value relationships.” Those are not just words to us but who are at our core. When a discussion was had around how to support the trades within New Ulm the relationship with Big Ideas began to grow. This organization is forming awareness about the trades that are at the backbone of SpecSys and the 10 companies that make up the RITALKA, Inc family.

The RITALKA, Inc. team volunteering in the community.

Q: How does SpecSys work to build awareness and education around the skilled trades in our community?
A: SpecSys and RITALK, Inc. are proud to be involved in a number of activities. We participate in manufacturing week in New Ulm, our teams volunteer with the welding program at the city’s high school, we host shop tours for high schools all around the region, and we hold in-class discussions around our company and how we serve our customers.

Q: What is one thing you’d like the New Ulm community to know about SpecSys?
A: Our company has had a low profile in the community; many students and adults have no idea what we do at the New Ulm location much less around the Midwest! We take flat sheets of steel and bend it, cut it, weld it, paint it and turn it into full turnkey locomotives, asphalt equipment, material handlers and military vehicles. Nothing that leaves our facilities has a SpecSys sticker on it, but we are the ones who build full turnkey pieces of mobile equipment. When we are able to show people what we do their eyes light up to think that they can build for world class customers and never leave their small rural community. It is pretty amazing!

The RITALKA, Inc. team volunteering at Schell’s Oktoberfest in New Ulm.

Q: Why does SpecSys feel it is so important to help build the next generation of skilled laborers?
A: The entire country is up against the same challenge in the manufacturing industry: Craftswomen and craftsman are increasingly harder to find with each day that goes by.  Manufacturing is the backbone of the United States, and without craftspeople in the next generation this would send ripples through the entire country. Companies across the country are pushing automation to attempt to take this on, but the fact is that automation and robotics will only get you so far without this skilled labor to go with it.

Our hope is that our organization’s outreach in the community and partnership with Big Ideas will shed light on the benefits of skilled trades careers and ignite change for generations to come.