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John Espinoza, a Model Precision Plus Employee and a Testament to Second Chances

Michael Reader

When things feel as they might be falling apart, they may just be falling into place. Second chances are given out all the time…but they only work when someone takes them.

John Espinoza works as a finishing technician for Precision Plus His shift starts at 11:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 a.m., just in time to take his young granddaughter Melanie to school. Melanie is a bright kindergartener with aspirations of becoming a doctor when she grows up.

On Monday mornings, after he drops Melanie off, John stays at the school for a couple of hours just to read one-on-one with every kid in Melanie’s class. “I like to read, so it gives me a real kick to experience the kids’ progress from just learning the letters, to reading entire stories—even with the appropriate inflections,” as they bring the stories to life. He credits the class teacher, Mrs. Autumn Petri, who “makes learning so much fun!” He adds, “ The children adore her!” But the children also really look forward to reading with John, whom they have nicknamed “Mr. Noodle,” after the beloved Sesame Street character. On Thursdays, he goes back to volunteer as a lunch parent.

There is nothing that gives John more satisfaction than to be involved in all aspects of Melanie’s life and to be a part of her formative years. Melanie is a busy girl, playing with the “Little Sis” Basketball Team, and with “The Varsity Deli” T-Ball Team, which John also happens to coach. She also attends children’s programs at Mt. Zion Christian Church and has plenty of time to play computer educational games, watch cartoons, and just play, like all kindergarteners should.

John and his wife Alicia are raising Melanie as their own daughter. When Melanie was a baby, her mother (one of John’s two daughters) left to never come back. John and Alicia are Melanie’s legal guardians, and are committed to be there for her every step of the way. John even takes parenting classes at his church.

But things may not have turned out this way, if John didn’t opt for taking a second chance.

Roll back the clock some years. John Espinoza, a third generation Texan of Mexican descent, grew up in mainstream North Dakota. His life was riddled with bad decisions, which put not only his own life in jeopardy, but also those of his first wife and their two young girls. “I was hard on my family,” he recalls. His life fell apart when his wife died. He continued to get involved in situations that eventually led him to spend time in jail.

It was while in jail, that John’s life made a sharp turn for the better. Through the turmoil, he found peace and endurance in the teachings from the Bible.

Fresh out of jail, John needed to find a job to support his family. He had worked as a CNC set up operator before, but now, time and time again his applications were rejected because of his dealings with the law…until he applied to work at Precision Plus, 13 years ago. He explained his situation to Mike Reader, and reassured Mike about the commitment he was willing to make to the company. He asked for a chance, and Mike, willingly, gave it to John. His career at Precision Plus, began as a tumbler.

“Mike was patient and through the years, he has helped to make my quality of life better. Mike makes a personal investment in his people,” adds John, “It goes beyond of just being an employee.”

When John was given a chance to raise his granddaughter, he knew that it was most important to be there for her and to be involved with her, so that Melanie would be better prepared to make the right decisions. “By allowing me to have night hours, Mike gave me the opportunity to spend the time I need to be with Melanie in her upbringing.”

Faith has been paramount in John’s life. But he not only leans on his faith for the second chances he has been given, he also gives back in more than one way. For the last 9 years, John has been preaching at local jails, hoping to impart the gift of a second chance he received once long ago. He also helps nurture a Hispanic group that recently joined Mt. Zion Christian Church.

When things feel as they might be falling apart, they may just be falling into place.  Second chances are there for the taking.

Precision Plus is proud to have John Espinoza in its team.

Precision Plus Continues to Support Area High Schools and Technical Colleges by Being Part of their CTE Advisory Committees

Michael Reader

Precision Plus currently serves on several career and technical education (CTE) high school and technical college advisory committees. Typically, the committees include advisors from area businesses, educators, and community and professional associations, who strive to strengthen curricula as well as the partnership between all of those involved.

On December 9, 2014, Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and Barry Butters, the company’s Director of Education and Training attended a CTE meeting at Beloit Memorial High School. At this regularly scheduled meeting, school representatives appraised their business partners on the status of courses, curriculum and overall participation by the students, while manufacturers reviewed workforce related issues and suggested course offering revisions that would help to address these issues.

On December 10, 2014, Butters and Reader attended two CTE committee meetings: the Elkhorn Area High School meeting, and the Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus meeting.

At the Elkhorn Area High School CTE committee meeting, school representatives also sought the input of their business partners to develop a curriculum that best addresses key industry needs.

These changes are being discussed in anticipation to a major remodeling of the technical education facilities at the high school. Chris Trottier, their principal, led these discussions, explaining the school’s goal to prepare students to take full advantage of new industry opportunities as they become available. On December 15, 2015, Barry Butters will be part of a presentation to the School Board on the committee’s recommendation.

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, who also serves on the Facility Advisory Committee for the Elkhorn School District, confirmed that a recent survey shows overwhelming support by the community for this remodeling project and the technology education opportunities that could be derived from this undertaking.

At the Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus CTE committee meeting, advisors convened to take action on a grant proposal for nearly $500,000 to expand the CNC offerings at the Elkhorn campus. Currently the CNC offerings are only at the Racine campus. A successful outcome, would result in the remodeling of the technical education wing to host equipment for CNC machining. The results will be known in March.

The CTE committee meeting was also attended by three representatives from Haas Automation, as well as a number of representatives from area manufacturers.