At the start of each school year, Kondex is paired with a group of high school technical education students eager to build a charcoal grill. This year, that school was our own Lomira High School — one of nine high schools participating in Project GRILL (Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading). This program of Envision Greater Fond du Lac aims to attract students to careers in manufacturing by tasking them with building a working charcoal grill from scratch. Students can seek guidance and input from their manufacturing business partner throughout the project in preparation for the big reveal at the close of the school year.

The unveiling event took place on May 10 at Festival Foods’ Fond du Lac grounds. This year’s program had a slight change in format, as the bulk of the judging took place at each school the week prior. Students were also required to find a buyer or recipient for their product. Kondex agreed to purchase this year’s Lomira High School custom grill and, in doing so, had a few design suggestions.

“We wanted to have the grill on our patio so it could be used at events or by associates,” commented Human Resources Representative Kelly Peterson. “While the students were required to build a charcoal grill, we requested they include a gas option for our use after this event. The team did a great job with this and also included the storage and countertop prep space requested.”

“This program really makes a difference in helping students recognize the possibilities of what is out there in manufacturing,” said Quality Assurance Manager Rick Pribnow. “They always list the factory tours as one of the highlights of the program, especially noting Kondex’s cleanliness and impressive manufacturing capabilities.”

A total of 141 students from 9 area high schools participated in the program. The Lomira High School team included Juniors Ethan Brazee, Daniel Skorik, and Blake Wondra (also team captain), along with Seniors Justin Fassbender, Kyle Pike, Ben Prasser, Seth Priest, and Titan Thomas. This was the ninth year Kondex has supported Project GRILL. Company representatives Pribnow and Peterson assisted the team throughout the year and served as judges to all schools.

“This program pushes students to expand their own abilities and further develop leadership and technical skills to get them ready to take the next step, whether it’s in industry or further education,” Pribnow continued. “I really enjoy watching the students grow in their confidence and abilities by learning from mistakes and overcoming challenges and adversity throughout the school year. When all is said and done, they have an impressive completed grill to show for that can be sold to bring money back into their Tech Ed Program or get used at community brat/burger fry fundraisers.”