In November of 2018 Sevastopol School District voters approved a $25 million referendum to reconstruct its aging facility to match one of the top-performing student bodies in the state. The leaders at Therma-Tron-X (TTX) went a step further.
The Sturgeon Bay manufacturing firm — which designs, fabricates and installs industrial custom paint finishing systems — donated $2 million to outfit the school’s Fabrication Lab (FabLab). Sevastopol Superintendent Kyle Luedtke has high aspirations for the new facility.
“We should have one of the best programs in the entire state when this is complete,” Luedtke said.
For Bradley Andreae and his father, Brad Andreae, the decision to support the school and this high-quality aspiration was a simple one.
“I had all my kids go to Sevastopol, and three of my children have their families going to that school,” said Brad Andreae. “We just see [that] it’s a good school, and it could continue to be a great school if we give them the tools.”
Whereas other manufacturing firms provide advanced training and opportunities to their existing employees, the Andreaes had a broader goal of improving the education of and opportunity for all Sevastopol students, no matter where they end up.
“When I was in high school in the early days, I had no idea what was out there as far as options,” said Brad Andreae. “To give these kids an opportunity to see what options are out there is critically important, and the earlier they learn that, the better.”
Of course, having more local students who have an interest and experience in manufacturing and industrial arts join the labor pool will ultimately help TTX’s recruitment efforts, but the company’s vision is much broader.
“We were interested in providing an upgrade of the science wing of the school and the STEM area of the school so we can expose children — not only high school students, but even younger kids — to what opportunities are out there,” Bradley Andreae said. “Not just for engineers, but plumbers or electricians. Throw it out there so we get kids exposed.”
Luedtke said the current equipment is from the 1940s and ’50s, but the school is fortunate to have staff members who will be able to seamlessly integrate the new equipment into their curricula.
“We can move our students forward in the field today,” Luedtke said. “Curriculum-wise, by [offering experiences to] those younger grade levels, it’s an opportunity they’ve never had before, and our current system didn’t allow us to have that.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story identified Brad Andrae as the founder of TTX. That is incorrect. Otto Andrae was the founder.