Students Worked Hard, But Had A Lot Of Fun Designing And Assembling Grills

Works (JDHW) will receive one of the grills. The company invited the students to the plant, giving tours of different departments. Four employees – Eric Keup, Tim McGuire, Mark Schoenweitz and Jeff Klatt – with supervisor Mike Greshay provided their expertise when it came to turning a piece of John Deere equipment into a working grill. “It was a group effort,” Eric said of the project.
“The kids had the initial design and knew what they wanted.” The grill isn’t charcoal or gas, it’s cooks with pellets. According to student Dan Olbinski, Brett Pride was talking with JDHW’s manager of labor relations during the special presentation of last year’s grill. “Brett was talking to Brian Pulford and asked him what kind of grill he likes,” said Dan.
“He said pellet grill, so that sparked us for an idea for this one.” He continued, “The pellets are fed by an auger that lands on a burner that heats the pellets and blows smoke to the food to make it taste smoky.” The students not only did the planning of how the grills would look, they did most of the work, with guidance here and there. “We did a few things only because they are limited with what they could do at school,” said Tim.
“We obviously have more equipment than the school, although it’s a great area, so sometimes the kids were at Deere doing the work.” Getting the chance to use equipment not available in the school shop was a treat for the students. “I got to paint some stuff and use the pulse welder,” said Timmy Borges. “That was really cool.” The senior noted that safety is extremely important at JDHW, which did not surprise him one bit. He and a few other seniors spent quite a bit of time in the factory during the assembling of the grills.
“We’d take four or five students for two or three hours a few times a week to John Deere so we could work on the grills,” said Timmy. “You get a lot more done when you can work that long on something instead of 30 or 40 minutes at a time.” According to Eric, the students received assignments of what needed to be done each time they visited the factory. Tim expounded on the subject. “We set them up like our shop structure,” said Tim. “A goal is set and it’s accomplished. The students experienced a factory schedule.”
Eric liked that the students were able to see JDHW employees in action with tig welding, painting center and the C&C machines, just to name a few, and then experience some of what those jobs entail was enjoyable for the students. “I think the kids really enjoyed the experience of working with some things they don’t have at school,” said Eric. Mike agreed. “Bringing the kids in and showing them what we have was great.
It was neat to see their reactions. People sometimes think we’re just manufacturing, but there are a lot of things that go on in a factory before the product gets to that part. Every aspect of producing that machine is done in Horicon, from ideas to building to testing to deciding it’s ready to leave the factory.” Seeing the many options for careers in manufacturing is something that Tim hopes will lead some of the students involved to that path.
Eric added that he believes the students who toured John Deere shared the information with their friends. Although it was obvious that the students did a lot of research for the project, Tim said that didn’t stop them from asking for other ideas and pointers. “They came up with some neat concepts,” said Mike. “With help, they found out how to make it work. They’d run into problems, but that just gave them the opportunity to problemsolve to take care of the issue.” The most enjoyable part of the project for Dan was working as a team. “I think it made our class closer, and being able to work as a team with Eric and Tim and Mark was great, too,” said the junior. Dan also enjoyed the tours and seeing how the factory works.
During one of the times he and a few others were at JDHW, they learned a new skill. “Tim taught us how to heat then solder the wires before putting them together,” said Dan. “It was interesting to see the steps of how that works.” Although working on the project from start to finish was fun, Timmy said his favorite part was at the beginning when the students were trying different ideas.
At the time of the interview, there were only a few weeks left before the unveiling of the grills, which took place at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center on Wednesday, May 25. “Now, here at the end, we obviously have to be more precise,” said Timmy. “Back then, everybody had ideas of what they wanted to do and we tried them all.
That was a lot of fun.” Timmy and Dan were looking forward to the unveiling and seeing the faces of those attending when they saw the finished products. Each knew the grills wouldn’t have been possible without the help of John Deere and thanks the corporation for giving the students the opportunity to do the project. “I think John Deere will be extremely impressed,” said Timmy. “We put a lot of hard work into it.” Eric and Tim saw that hard work each time they worked with the students either at JDHW or in the high school shop.
“The kids are definitely excited about the end product,” said Eric. “They did a good job.” Tim agreed. “When the kids take ownership, the connection is there and strong. That will mean something in the future … ” “It gave the kids a great sense of pride,” concluded Mike. Although the unveiling ceremony began with rain, thunder and lightning, the grills were busy cooking brats and hamburgers. The auditorium was filled to capacity, with people also standing on the sides and in the back of the room as they listened to the presentations from the schools involved in the program. Like Horicon, Dodgeland students turned equipment into grills.
Students from Mayville and Columbus were involved in other projects. After listening to the informative and witty presentations, the invited guests enjoyed not only the hamburgers and brats cooked on the grills, but also several sides. Guests and students were allowed closer looks at the grills and asked questions of the students. Those from John Deere Horicon Works were indeed impressed.

Robert graduated from Brandman University, where he got his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Born in Massachusetts, Robert’s family moved to Kentucky in 2005 where he spent his college life and worked as an insurance agent for four years. Now is the founder and team leader of the website.