Precision Plus Welcomes Two Youth Apprentices and Two Gateway Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Michael Reader

Youth Apprentices

Jordan Belanus, a senior at Elkhorn Area High School in Elkhorn, WI and Jake Sherwin, a senior at Big Foot High School in Walworth, WI, have joined Precision Plus’ Youth Apprentice Program.

Jordan Belanus began working as an Information Technology (IT) youth apprentice at Precision Plus (PPI) on November 9, 2015, reporting to Jeff Lemmermann, the company’s CIO and CFO. The IT apprenticeship adheres to the IT Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.

Items on the checklist vary from soft skills such as communicating effectively and thinking critically, to job-specific skills such as upgrading an operating system or installing software. The checklist serves as a guideline to help the apprentice obtain designated competencies.

Jordan enjoys working on computers for friends and family, having developed an affinity for programming and networking. As an IT apprentice, he will also be putting those skills to work, performing back up operations, upgrading operating systems and installing software as needed. He will also assist to process employee IT help requests. As his internship progresses, Jordan should be able to perform certain tasks of his own volition, rather than being directed to do so.

In order to receive a certificate for his internship, Jordan must complete 450 total hours of work by August 2016. By state law, however, he cannot exceed 20 hours per week. He learned about PPI’s apprenticeship opportunity through his school’s career and technical education coordinator.

At Elkhorn Area High School, Jordan’s favorite subjects are algebra, physics and geometry. He plans to attend Gateway Technical College in the fall of 2016 and subsequently use its 2-plus-2 articulation agreements with the University of Wisconsin or with Milwaukee School of Engineering to continue his education in computer engineering.

In his spare time, Jordan enjoys playing video games, playing guitar, and practicing Tae Kwon Do, for which he holds a second-degree black belt.

Jake Sherwin began his manufacturing apprenticeship with PPI on November 2, 2015. He reports to Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training.

The manufacturing apprenticeship follows the Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development for that purpose. The first part of the apprenticeship will include a general assessment of Jake’s math skills, micrometer and blueprint reading skills and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) interpretative skills.

After the first phase is completed, Jake will spend time with mentors from different departments to learn skills and applications from them first hand. Jake will be completing the core skills and machining unit of the Production Pathway of the Skill Standards Checklist.   Mentors will sign off on the acquired competencies at the end of their mentoring.

The curriculum at PPI goes hand in hand, with Jake’s curriculum at Big Foot High School. Jake learned about the apprenticeship opportunity at Precision Plus when Mark Beilman spoke to his technical education class in September. Jake knows that he wants to work in the trades—most likely in construction—after his graduation. However, he enjoys the science and agriculture classes he is taking, as well as helping with his family’s farm. In addition, he works part-time at Heyer True Value Hardware Store in Walworth, Wisconsin, so he is keeping his options open. His apprenticeship will also require him to complete 450 hours by August 2016.

When time permits, Jake enjoys hunting and fishing, baseball, and playing bass guitar in a band.


Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Two Gateway students, currently enrolled in Gateway Technical College (GTC)’s Elkhorn Campus Youth CNC Boot Camp have begun their job shadowing experience at Precision Plus, as part of their current semester requirements.

Monday through Friday, Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School attend high school in the morning, followed by classes and training at GTC from 12:30 until 4:30 in the afternoon. As they learn different processes and applications at school, a concurrent shadowing program lends them the opportunity to watch professionals performing those jobs. Each student spends one hour per week at PPI to meet those requirements.

Thus far, the students have shadowed Marty Baumgardner in the Quality Assurance Lab, Ryan Landreman and Brad Pearson on the Miyano platform, and Curtis Hibl in the CAM Department. The shadowing will continue on the Tornos platform, the Secondary Department, the Scheduling Department and, finally, the Shipping Department.

Elliot and Cameron will continue their high school/boot camp schedule until the spring semester begins on February 2, 2016. At that time, they will attend their high school classes in the mornings, but will participate in a mentoring program at Precision Plus in the afternoon, learning and working in different departments. The mentoring phase will end in May 2016. The students will receive high school and boot camp credits for their experience at the company.

Although the Youth CNC Boot Camp mentoring program is similar to the Youth Apprenticeship program already in place, possible modifications may be made based on the students’ incoming skill level.

Cameron and Elliot are members of the first Youth CNC Boot Camp to graduate from GTC’s Elkhorn Campus in Walworth County. The program had already been running successfully at GTC’s other two locations in Racine and Kenosha.

For more information about Precision Plus’ apprenticeship and mentoring programs, please contact Mark Beilman via email or by calling 262-743-1700.


Precision Plus Welcomes Barry R. Butters as Director of Education and Training

Michael Reader

Precision Plus’ Efforts to Fill the Skills Gap:  Third Installment.

In a continuing effort to stay ahead of a widening manufacturing skills gap, Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus has hired Barry Butters as Director of Education and Training.

Butters has been in the education field for 27years, teaching mathematics and engineering courses as well as serving as a high school principal.  He has taught every course in the high school math curriculum including both Advanced Placement Calculus AB & BC and Advanced Placement Statistics.  Butters has also taught Statistics at George Williams College.  More recently, he began teaching a course called “Introduction to Engineering Design,” which is an engineering course in the “Project Lead The Way” curriculum.  Project Lead The Way is a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program aimed to increase the numbers of engineers in the USA.  The course work is designed to get high school students involved in real engineering work at a younger age and to attract more students to the engineering field.  “I will be using best practice in education to bring employees up to speed as quickly as possible through a variety of training techniques,” said Butters.

Butters’ duties at Precision Plus include: new employee training for those with no machining experience, cross-training existing employees, developing educational platforms for the various CNC machines and measuring tools, and acting as ambassador for the manufacturing industry.  Reader has repurposed a room at Precision Plus to serve as a classroom to conduct training.  Butters has lofty goals for the training at Precision Plus  His intentions are for the classroom to be used for:

  • To give employees, interns and students an opportunity to obtain certifications from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC)
  • To establish Precision Plusas a testing center for MSSC certifications.
  • To teach employees, interns, and students the mathematics related to the machining industry.
  • To teach employees, interns, and students blueprint reading, including geometric dimensioning and tolerance.
  • To teach employees, interns and students the skills necessary to use measuring devices including all kinds of micrometers, drop indicators, gages, calipers, optical comparators, roundness testers, automated optical systems such as OASIS, and coordinate measuring machines (CMMs).
  • To train employees, interns and students in the use of the Part Maker program.
  • To train employees, interns and students in the use of 3D CAD software.
  • To offer a CNC Lathe class to local high schools students.
  • To offer the Project Lead the Way course Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) and Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) at Precision Plus for local high school students.  The courses could be offered in the evenings as necessary.

Barry Butters, Director of Education & Training, speaks to a second grade class at Westside Elementary School class about the field of CNC Machining and Engineering.

Butters’ efforts to get manufacturing and its opportunities on the minds of the community and young people include organizing an open house to mark National Manufacturing Day.  The open house will be held on Thursday, October 3rd at 6:30 pm and is open to all.  On Friday, October 4th, National Manufacturing Day, Precision Plus will offer tours of its facility to local high school students.

In 2012, Mike Reader kicked off the first annual career panel, held at Elkhorn Area High School.  “Our mission is to continue to expand this opportunity, and I think it speaks volumes to Mike Reader’s vision that manufacturers need to take an active role in promoting their own industry,” said Butters.

Butters will be visiting area schools to speak to students about manufacturing and promoting its opportunities.  Most recently he visited a second grade class at Westside Elementary School.

You can reach Barry Butters at  He is willing to take any suggestions or simply talk about what is being accomplished at Precision Plus