High School Manufacturing Academy – Keegan Kloewer & Matthew Curry

Happy Thursday! We’re back again with more blog entries from the students who participated in the High School Manufacturing Academies! Today we have Keegan Klower and Matthew Curry. Their journals express their personal experiences and are written by them. First up, we have Keegan Kloewer:

My name is Keegan Kloewer and I am a senior at Spencer High School. I was assigned to Milford Polaris side by side plant for two weeks. I was taught many different things, including a hands-on experience. The first week was very short with all of our early outs and snow days, including the terminology. The main focus that we were taught was on Kaizen, standard work, yamazumi charts, and spaghetti diagrams. Then we proceeded to get out of the classroom and put all we learned on the assembly line. My group was assigned to a sub-assembly area and we used what we learned to improve the area. We then made a presentation on our work. After making and finalizing our improvements and presentation my group presented to the other Polaris leads and teachers from all our schools.


indian team


This experience was really fun. I learned a lot and really got to see all the work that goes into a factory. Everyone at Polaris is really nice and wiling to help and go the extra mile. I enjoyed everything about it and would recommend it to underclassmen. A couple things that surprised me about this industry was that it was very clean. Everyone is pretty well organized. I was also surprised on how fast Polaris can produce their product. All in all, it was a great experience and I can’t thank everyone at Polaris enough.



My name is Matt Curry and I attend Spencer High School. Today was our first day on the line and we observed the operators put together their parts at their station. We took notes and asked the operators what improvements we could make or how we could help make the job easier. Then we drew the layout of the floor and got measurements so we could make more room for the stations.




Thanks, Keegan and Matthew, for giving us a peak into the High School Manufacturing Academies! Have questions about the academies? Contact the Iowa Lakes Corridor at info@lakescorridor.com.

See you next week!

LibbyGlaser Libby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator


High School J-Term Spotlight: Dylan Naab & Nick Doyle

Happy Wednesday! Today we’re sharing more blog entries from the High School students that participated in the Manufacturing and Construction Trades Academies during J-Term! All blog posts reflect the students’ personal thoughts and experiences. Take it away, boys:

My name is Dylan Naab and my J-term experience was focused on conceptual productions. Throughout my time at the Spirit Lake Polaris plant, my group was working on the Indian Trunk Assembly Line. Before we actually got to be on the line, however, we had to learn what the different things we were going to do such as what Kaizen meant, which means “change for the better”. I really enjoyed actually being able to do something for a company that makes a difference in the company itself. I also enjoyed making new things and rearranging the workstation so that the worker’s job was slightly easier. Myself taking this class for two years now meant that I’ve already seen what Polaris in Spirit lake looked like, but some things have been moved since I was last there, so I guess that’s what surprised me the most.

Slingshot Open House

Polaris Slingshot Grand Opening


My name is Nick Doyle. I decided to journal on the 8th day of J-Term, so my blog reflects my experience that day. We began by going over our averages. Then we began redesigning the work stations. We started with station 1111. In that station, we needed to make the bench deeper and add better ways to get totes off the floor and put parts closer to each other to make bigger benches. On the bench we made his sub assembly area bigger and added room for tools and his scanners. Then we made new trays for the DC tools and put them closer to the back of the unit where they needed. Then we needed to make a role for the empty stickers and the foam pieces that go on the battery bracket. We then moved his drills from the bench and made a gun cart big enough to hold 4 drills and a sub assembled seat belt bracket. We started on station 1121 after that. There were two carts that were taking up too much space, so we made them into one. Both carts had a sub assembly area; one for the wind cover that goes over the power steering unit and one for the seat belt bracket. We finished up those carts and then went home.

Thanks , Dylan and Nick, for sharing your experiences! Check back next week for more blog posts! 🙂


LibbyGlaser Libby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator

High School J-Term Spotlight: Ryan Schmitz & Brandon Danielson

Today we have two high school students on the blog: Ryan Schmitz and Brandon Danielson! They’ll be giving us a peek into their J-term experiences. All of their blogs are written by them, and we’re excited to hear how they liked the program and what they learned! Take it away, guys!


HS Academy

My name is Ryan Schmitz. I worked in the Spirit Lake plant. We worked on the trunk assembly for the Indian Motorcycle. We learned about Kaizen- which means small improvements for the better. Also learned continuous improvement and value added work which is work that adds value to the product. We learned about lean; lean is a business model and collection of strategic techniques that expose and eliminate waste. We learned about the eight waste – defects, overproduction, waiting, non utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, exercises processing. We also learned take time that the product takes to finish.  We also learned about the 5s: set, sort, standardize, shine sustain. What I enjoyed most is working with the Polaris employees and seeing the Slingshot on the dyno. I was surprised about how complicated it actually is. I was also surprised on how much we actually learned this week.

Before I get ahead of myself let me just say my name is Brandon Danielson and I did my lean management at the Polaris plant in Milford. My job at Polaris was to make the station I was assigned a better place to work and to cut down the time to make a unit and give the station more efficiency.

Some new practices I learned was how to become a more efficient worker and save more money. Another practice that I have learned from Polaris is Kaizen, which is changes for the better. My group did this a lot at Polaris; we changed and improved the workstation to make it better and more efficient. I also learned about the 8 waste and how to eliminate them and make production move faster and better.

I enjoyed many things at Polaris, but I am only going to name a few. One of them was just being out on the line and getting to see production happening right in front of my eyes. Another thing I enjoyed was being with my group and solving problems to help our workstation to become more efficient

There was some things that surprised me by going to Polaris. One thing was how big the production was and how a little simple thing could shut down the whole entire assembly line. That probably surprised me the most was how dependent the line was on every single person doing their job correctly.

Thanks, Ryan and Brandon, for sharing your J-Term experiences with us! We can’t wait for next week. For more information about the Manufacturing/Construction Trades Academies, contact the Corridor at (712) 264-3474. See you next week!



Libby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator
Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation

Manufacturing / Construction Trades Academy: Chandler Galm

Good Afternoon everyone! Today we will be kicking off a new series on the Corridor blog. The first two weeks of January, almost 30 high school seniors from Spencer, Spirit Lake and Okoboji/Milford High School participated in J-Term academies where they learned about the Manufacturing and Construction industries. We asked the students to document their experiences and tell us their favorite parts about learning first hand from leaders in these industries. Each week, a student will be featured on our blog. Their blog entries are written by them and reflect their personal opinions and experiences.

Our first feature is Chandler Galm, a senior at Spencer High School. Take it away, Chandler!

I was assigned to the Spirit Lake plant, on the Victory line, on the saddlebag station where they make the saddle bags for the Cross Country bikes. The station was well organized compared to most, the only problem with the station was she would have to walk around a lot which the company was wasting about 4,000 dollars on yearly. My group decided it would be a good idea to build a shopping chart made out of flex craft for her parts tools and glue gun, which would help eliminate all the walking because she would go around the station grab her parts and build her hinges and grab her duct vision and walk over to her fixture. I learned lots of important things, some of which were about spaghetti charts, which is used to show walk paths; Yamazumi charts, which show the fluctuation between cycle times; Elemental studies, which is the steps the operator needs to go through to build the final product and time each step, cycle time, the amount of time it usually takes to build the product, standard work best process to build the final product.

 HS Academies 2015

What I enjoyed most about this is we are actually taking what we learned and putting it to use in the real world and not in scenarios like in the regular classroom. I also liked how I got to see what Polaris looks like from the inside and to see some of the products that are made there.

What surprised me was how it was a mix of classroom and hands on activities. How a lot of what we learned the first week, like Kaizen, can actually help you anywhere, and how most of the first week was more of a business approach.

Thank you, Chandler, for telling us about your experience! Check back next week for another high school student to take over the Corridor blog! Have questions about the High School academies? Contact the Corridor: (712) 264-3474.

See you next week!

LibbyGlaserLibby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator

Jonna Garrett – Business-Education Partnership Professional

Hello everyone! How was your Thanksgiving? I hope it was filled with family, food and shopping some great deals! Be sure to also shop local this holiday season – our local Corridor businesses are what help keep our economy thriving.

If you haven’t already heard (or seen in the papers!), we have a new Corridor staff member! Meet Jonna Jo Garrett: she is our new Business-Education Partnerships Professional.


Although this Southern Belle is originally from Oklahoma, Jonna moved from Wisconsin to the lakes region in August with her family. She brings twenty-five years experience working in Health and Clinical Education. Prior to joining Iowa Lakes Corridor, Jonna worked as a Clinical Educator for Agnesian Healthcare in Wisconsin, where she developed education programs, created business processes and trained nursing staff. One of her greatest joys of working as a Clinical Educator was her role in developing, training, and managing students and staff. Jonna’s already made a lasting impression on the Corridor staff. Kiley Miller, CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor, states:

“Jonna’s knowledge, experience, work ethic and friendliness make her the ideal person to build strong partnerships between Corridor businesses and schools. She will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the local workforce.”



Jonna has been hard at work coordinating the High School Manufacturing and Construction Trades Academies with Scott Rettey, the staffs at Spencer High School and Okoboji High School, and Iowa Lakes Community College. On top of that, she’s hit the ground running coordinating and training volunteers for Junior Achievement in the lakes region.

“I’m fortunate to be a part of the Iowa Lakes Corridor, and I’ve had a great time partnering with local businesses and schools thus far,” said Jonna. “There are just so many great opportunities here.”

While Jonna’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, and enjoying the outdoors.

“I had the privilege of enjoying the lakes area this past summer,” said Jonna. “I have a love for the outdoors and enjoy water skiing, bike riding, running, and I also plan to do a triathlon in the lakes area next summer.”


Jonna has already convinced part of the staff to do the U of O Winter Games 5K with her… I think I’m going to need Jonna’s help in getting trained 🙂

If you would like to reach out to Jonna, you can email her a jgarrett@lakescorridor.com.

Have a great week everyone! Thanks for reading.

LibbyGlaserLibby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator
Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation
(712) 264-3474

A Thank-You to Scott Rettey

Hey Everyone! WOW it’s been awhile since I’ve been on this blog. The fall has been pretty busy for all of the Corridor staff! I’m excited to spend more time in this space and give each of you a behind-the-scenes look into what’s happening at the Corridor.

Students with Certificates

Last week, the Corridor’s “Manufacturing 101” Adult Workshop finished up, and we are very proud of the five students who graduated from the program! This program couldn’t have happened without the help and participation of 10 manufacturing companies, IowaWORKS, Iowa Lakes Community College and Spencer High School. There is one person in particular, though, that has been a key player in sustaining the program, and that person is Scott Rettey, the Corridor’s Manufacturing 101 instructor.


Scott has a rich history in the manufacturing industry. He graduated from St. Cloud State in 1978, and he received his Masters in Industrial Education and Manufacturing soon after. Rettey has worked at Spencer High School teaching industrial education courses, working with students and staff members interested in the industrial, engineering and manufacturing industries. When Scott was asked to assist in teaching the Manufacturing 101 adult workshop, the decision was immediate.

“I’ve been involved in the metals manufacturing industry for the last 15 years,” said Scott. “When I announced my retirement, the Corridor asked me if I would like to teach these adult manufacturing training courses, and I couldn’t say no. ”


Not only has Scott been an incredible instructor to the students of Manufacturing 101, but many of his students, both adult and high schoolers, consider him a friend, mentor and colleague.

“Scott is so positive, and he’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” said Geoff Maurer, graduate of the fall Manufacturing 1o1 Adult Workshop. “He’s patient, caring, and I’m proud to call him a colleague of mine. He wants to see everyone succeed.”


“I have the greatest respect and admiration for Mr. Scott Rettey,” said Sue Biederman, graduate of the fall Manufacturing 101 Adult Workshop. “He is an awesome instructor. He teaches not only manufacturing methods, but what is sometimes more important, listening, compassion and caring with a great dose of humor. Scott is unassuming, humble, and an excellent communicator. He can meld a group of students from various backgrounds and ages into a bonded team that helps, learns and shares with each other. Just the best! I nominate him for Spencer’s Person of the Year!”

The Corridor staff has also been greatly impacted by Scott’s leadership.

“Scott knows his stuff,” said Kiley Miller, CEO of the Corridor. “He’s patient, and he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s the kind of person we’d all like to be.”

“Without question, Scott Rettey is an instructor who has a God-given gift,” said Joanne Follon, Economic Development Coordinator of the Corridor. “He understands his students and instructs them on the skills they need to succeed, but he also nurtures their self confidence to achieve those goals set for themselves. The last of which is a very important element to individual success.”


We at the Corridor feel very fortunate to call Scott one of our own. Thank you, Scott, for all of your hard work, dedication to workforce development, and for your leadership in this program.

If you would like to reach out to Scott Rettey, feel free to contact him at srettey@spencerschools.org.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your holiday be filled with family and laughter.

LibbyGlaserLibby Glaser
Communications and Events Coordinator
Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation

Manufacturing 101: July Session

Happy Friday! Today’s post is focusing on the July session of our Manufacturing 101 workshop! The workshop participants are finishing up their second week, and we’re excited to see their progress and also see them interview with local manufacturing companies at the end of the workshop! I thought it might be fun to hear their stories of how they learned about the program and also what their favorite part about the program is. Check out their stories below to see how each of these students have been uniquely impacted by the Corridor’s Manufacturing 101 workshop.



Luis Ruiz:

“Dan Anderson (from Iowa Lakes Community College) talked to me about this class because I really wanted to get more experience in welding, and he said I should come to Spencer and take this class. I’ve liked learning about sketching and welding, and understanding all of the sizes and diameters for sketching has really helped me. When you need to weld something, you need to know how to weld it right, so sketching and blueprinting has been really useful information for me. I live in Estherville, and everyone there is really nice. I’ve enjoyed living in the Corridor and hope to find a job here soon.”



Dennis Kahl:

“I enlisted in the Marine Corp, and then went back to Arizona. I was working at Pizza Hut, Subway – places like that to keep an income going. My parents moved to Iowa, so when my lease ended I moved here too. They found an article in the newspaper about this class, and I was obviously interested. I really wanted to get some hands-on experience and further my education. I had done some drafting before. I can use my talent in drawing and I’m really excited about the solid works program and seeing all of my progress. I couldn’t ever do any of these things back in high school, and now all of these talents have become hobbies of mine. I’m excited to see my hobbies become my full-time job, and this workshop will allow me to do that.”



Blake Dalziel:

“I graduated high school in eastern Iowa, and I heard about the class through my uncle (Corridor staff member, Brian Dalziel). I first started working at a grocery store and then my grandpa’s shop as a lube tech. I worked there for a year, and by taking this class, I’ll have more experience to return and hopefully take on more of a management role. I love the solid works part of this workshop. I would like to also do industrial maintenance in the future, and that might tie in really well if I decide to go back to the family business. The family business is really important to me, and I’m excited to go back home and take on more roles.”



Doug Falline

“I was in the post office and I saw Bob Becker (from Iowa Works). He mentioned that there was a class provided by the Corridor, so I marched right down to their office and signed up! I worked at StyleCraft for 16 years, so I have some experience in manufacturing. This class is actually hitting me right at my weaknesses, which is turning out to be great. I’m learning so many new tips and tricks so that I can get better at what I’m not the best at, so I’m excited that I’m seeing my improvement as I continue with the program. I’m excited to see what Polaris and other manufacturing companies have to offer. My family has lived in the Corridor for years, so I’m excited to start a new chapter in the place I call home.”




Carol Young:

“I worked at Pure Fishing for almost 40 years. I thought this would be a good review of the information I already had, but I’m learning quite a bit of new information. My favorite part so far has been the drafting overview. My ideal job would be working in welding, and I always see ads for welders. I wanted to see if I could gain the skills to do it before I jumped right in and realized I didn’t like it, and so far I’m really enjoying learning about welding. Through this program, I now know that I can do this job, so I’ll feel so much more confident in getting a job in this industry after completing the workshop.”


Peggy Tewes (Not Pictured):

“I heard about the program through Iowa Works. I worked in manufacturing in the 90s, and I thought since this was a free course, I thought it would be a great way for me to gain more skills while I’m looking for employment. Everything that we’re learning is so new, so originally I was feeling like a fish out of water, but Scott has been so helpful and I just keep trying! This program has helped me realize that I want to go back to college. I have had experience in the medical field as well, and I have realized through this workshop that I would love to go back to school and finish my degree. I really love the Corridor because this class is free, our lunches have been free, and everyone is so nice and helpful. Through this program, I’ve been able to get the right contacts to discuss my options with Iowa Lakes Community College as well, so I can’t say enough good things about this program!”


Thank you to all of our awesome Manufacturing 101 Workshop participants for sharing your stories! For more information about the Manufacturing 101 Workshop, contact the Iowa Lakes Corridor at 712-264-3474. See you next week!


Libby Glaser