CVTC Alumni Association 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner Ken Skar, center, is joined by CVTC Machine Tooling Technics program director Dave Thomson, left, and CVTC President Bruce Barker at the Alumni Association Spring Gala Thursday, April 6. Skar, a 1998 CVTC graduate, is the owner of Vincent Tool in Chippewa Falls.
Dove Healthcare owner Tommy Davidson talks with emcee Barbara Cloutier on the stage at the Alumni Association Spring Gala Thursday, April 6. Dove Healthcare was honored with the 2017 CVTC Proven Business Partner Award at the annual event.
Ken Skar looks on himself as just another of the 23 Chippewa Valley Technical College graduates among the 24 employees at Vincent Tool in Chippewa Falls. But as the owner of the company for almost three years and as CVTC’s 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner, he is clearly more than that.
Skar, a 1996 graduate of New Auburn High School, was presented with the award at the CVTC Alumni Association’s annual Spring Gala at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire Thursday, April 6. Also earning a major award was Dove Healthcare, the 2017 CVTC Proven Business Partner. RCU Marketing Manager A.J. Leidl was honored with the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award.
“It’s a collaboration of all employees,” said Skar about his approach at Vincent Tool. Skar started working for the machine tool shop that specializes in plastic injection custom mold bases in 2000, and still considers himself a “shop guy.”
But Skar has had to learn to grow his business and lead a growing staff. One of his difficulties is recruiting new machinists during a severe shortage of people with the needed skills and training. “And this type of industry is a daily challenge of new parts and processes,” he said.
To recruit new machinists for his company and the industry, Skar has maintained a close relationship with CVTC since his 1998 graduation from the Machine Tooling Technics program. Today, he is co-chairman of the program’s advisory committee, helping CVTC learn how to stay on the cutting edge of the industry. Skar said staying involved with the CVTC program helps his business. He can help guide the program to ensure those graduates keep coming to him ready to work, and staying familiar with the instructors and students gives him a leg up on recruiting.
CVTC graduates are among the most sought-after hires, Skar says. “The students are ready to go to work right away. We just teach them our machine shop’s process,” he said.
Dove Healthcare consists of six skilled nursing facilities, four assisted living facilities, and a rehabilitation company, with facilities in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Bloomer, Osseo, Barron and Rice Lake. The company has a diverse workforce of over 1000 employees and serves an average of 425 residents and patients every day.
Dove Healthcare has been a strong partner with CVTC for many years. Its skilled nursing facilities are important sites for Nursing, CNA, Physical Therapy Assistant, Dental Hygiene, Respiratory Therapy, EMT/Paramedics, and Health Information students to complete their clinical assignments, helping train the next generation of area healthcare workers. Dove Healthcare was also a partner on a grant CVTC received to deliver education and career training opportunities for dislocated workers to prepare them for high-demand careers in healthcare.
“Dove Healthcare has a long history of participating in CVTC career fairs and hiring CVTC graduates,” said Aliesha Crowe, executive director of the CVTC Foundation.
“Our team is so honored to receive this award,” said Tommy Davidson, owner of Dove Healthcare. “Our partnership with CVTC over the past 15 years has been instrumental in helping us develop and grow our workforce so that we can achieve goals related to system improvements and new program development.”
Dove Healthcare supports programs and organizations that improve the overall quality of life in the communities in which their employees and residents live. They have a tradition of giving back through financial contributions, volunteer hours, and leadership roles on boards and councils, some of which include the Alzheimer’s Association, United Way, Aging & Disability Resource Center, local colleges, senior centers, hospitals and Chambers of Commerce.
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.