Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CVTC Honors 2018 Alumni, Business Partner

Imagineering founder Jahnke, Cardinal FG presented with awards at Spring Gala

Article Photo - CVTC Honors 2018 Alumni, Business Partner

CVTC 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award winner Mel Jahnke, left, talks about his time at CVTC and his career as a computer consultant with Justin Zoromski, emcee of the CVTC Alumni Association’s Spring Gala Thursday, April 12.

Computers are part of virtually every business setting throughout the Chippewa Valley today, but it wasn’t always that way. When computers started to break into the local business scene in a big way in the 1980s, it was a Chippewa Valley Technical College graduate who led the way. Now that visionary has been named CVTC 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner.

Imagineering Computer Consultants founder Mel Jahnke was presented with the award Thursday, April 12 at the CVTC Alumni Association’s annual Spring Gala. Also honored at the event was the Cardinal FG plant in Menomonie as CVTC’s Proven Business Partner. Cathy Mallett, a 2011 Physical Therapist Assistant graduate, and Melissa Wilson, a 2007 Marketing graduate and 2008 Organizational Leadership graduate, were named Outstanding Recent Alumni.

Mel Jahnke founded Imagineering in 1988, and the company had consulting contracts with scores of local businesses, from medical and legal offices to manufacturers and accountants. “I was the first independent computer consultant in Eau Claire,” Jahnke said.

Jahnke started at CVTC in 1974 in the Fluid Power Maintenance program, then returned to CVTC for the Electronics Technology program and was named the program’s outstanding student in 1981.

Imagineering became a go-to company for small businesses taking the leap into computerization. “I helped companies see computers as an investment instead of an expense,” he said.

Jahnke sold the company in 2006, but recently returned to the computer consulting business with the founding of R.O.I. Technology Consulting.

Jahnke currently serves on the advisory committee for the CVTC IT-Network Specialist program that he helped develop in the 1990s, and served three terms on the CVTC Foundation Board. The CVTC Computer Repair Center has been named after him for his support of the College.

In the community, he has been an Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce member for 25 years, was chairman of the South Barstow Business Improvement District for 15 years, and served on the Downtown Eau Claire Inc. board.

Cardinal FG, a subsidiary of Cardinal Glass Industries, is a leader in the development of residential glass for windows and doors. The 550,000 sq. ft. Menomonie plant with about 225 employees produces over 200,000 tons of glass a year, operating 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We were one of the original companies that partnered with CVTC in the WAT (Workforce Advancement Training) Grants,” said Plant Manager Wayne McAtee.

Working with CVTC’s Workforce Solutions division, Cardinal FG has provided training for employees in a variety of subjects, has had Workforce Solutions perform mock OSHA inspections, and recently had several employees take OSHA 10 and 30-hour courses through CVTC.

Through CVTC training programs, Cardinal FG has allowed production workers to become much-needed maintenance staff. The plant employs about 20 CVTC program graduates, some becoming full-time employees after starting as maintenance interns.

Wilson is now a manager in CVTC’s Marketing and Recruitment Department and last year started a skin care products business, called Melnaturel, which was named the New Business of the Year in 2017 by Western Dairyland. Mallett is a physical therapist assistant for HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and a volunteer hockey head coach who has been active with the Altoona Youth Hockey Association for 10 years.

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