Ryan K stands in front of a Blaine Bros trailer truck

Seniors Griffin Gaspersich and Ryan Kollbaum got jobs at local transportation company Blaine Brothers after touring on a school visit. Through the many partnerships that connect high school students with businesses in the community, students are exploring future career paths and landing jobs.

Blaine Brothers, a local business that provides parts, service and towing for trucks and trailers, has been involved with Pathways programming at Spring Lake Park High School for years. They’ve served as judges, guest speakers, hosted a booth at the career fair, and helped provide unique event opportunities like a transportation day cookout for students.

This school year, Blaine Brothers hosted a group of high school students for an on-site visit. Griffin Gaspersich and Ryan Kollbaum were a part of the group. Both seniors have taken various trades courses during their time in high school and were interested in learning more about the industry. Following the tour, they learned about open job opportunities for students and they interviewed.

“Blaine Brothers has been flexible with their school schedules and very supportive in teaching them as much as possible about the industry,” says Eric Van Brocklin, SLPHS career pathways lead.

Parts warehouse

Ryan has been working in the parts warehouse approximately 35 hours per week since January. He says the schedule provides a good balance between school and work. A big part of the job involves pulling parts orders, staging them for delivery and pickup, and helping in other areas of the warehouse including shipping and receiving.

“I drive all around the metro area to deliver parts,” says Ryan. “I like this work environment, the people I have met, and the freedom to drive around the community and meet new people while helping them complete their projects.”

He has a had a lot of on-the-job training, and his experience at Blaine Brothers has taught him the importance of teamwork.

“I have learned many technical skills related to inventory management and warehouse processes. On the professional side, I have also learned how to have positive customer interactions,” says Ryan.

He plans to continue working at Blaine Brothers until November 2023 when he’ll head off to college. He will attend Central Lakes College in Staples, MN and is enrolled in the fast track (8 months) Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance program.  

Trailer shop

Once swim team season wrapped up this winter, Griffin was looking for a job to align with his schedule and interests. He works three days per week on the evening shift, 6 p.m.-midnight.

“When I'm done with work, I get in my car and feel good about what I did. I don't even feel tired – it's a feeling of satisfaction,” says Griffin. “I enjoy that every shift is different; it’s definitely not repetitive.”

With an interest in mechanical work discovered in one of his favorite classes, construction trades, Griffin works primarily in the trailer shop. The job entails everything from installing tarps that cover semi-trailers all the way down to brake systems. It’s a bit of everything.

“I've learned a broad range of mechanical skills, such as following spec sheets. There's an order of operations that you must follow to keep everything in check, otherwise it's unsafe,” says Griffin. “I’ve learned to have confidence in my own work, accountability and the ability to figure things out on my own.”

After graduation, Griffin would like to stay at Blaine Brothers for another year to become a lineman. Eventually, he’d like to move out west to Montana or Wyoming. He credits his teachers at Spring Lake Park High School for their mentorship as he’s discovered his future path.

“Scott Wicklund and Eric Van Brocklin do a fantastic job of opening doors for us students and helping us find what it is we'd like to do,” says Griffin. “They really care about how you would like to continue your education.”

Career exploration continued

Creating opportunities for students to explore careers is a key focus of Career and College Pathways programming. In April, Spring Lake Park High School will host its career fair featuring more than 100 interactive booths from industries in Business, Agriculture, Arts, Information Systems, Engineering, Technology, Manufacturing, Human Services, Health Sciences, and Colleges/Military.

As the career pathways lead, Eric has witnessed the value these partnerships bring to the lives of students.

“We truly appreciate the support we get for our schools through these community partnerships,” says Eric.