Cub Industries manufactures workers for the future

As part of the Rising 30 celebration, Conexus Indiana sent to each honoree a box filled with items – some of which were made by Indiana-based manufacturers. Antique Candle Co. provided candles and SoChatti provided a sample pack of its single origin chocolate pouches. Conexus Indiana also partnered with Madison Consolidated High School’s Cub Industries to design and manufacture Rising 30 coasters. Here’s their story:

The company that provided the engraved wooden coasters given to 2022 Rising 30 honorees does more than produce custom products. It also produces future members of the advanced manufacturing and logistics workforce.

A work-based learning program at Madison Consolidated High School (MCHS), Cub Industries includes engineering and manufacturing operations that allow students to participate in the complete process of working with customers to determine their needs, design products to meet those needs and produce and deliver them on budget and on time.

With about 125 students in the program, Cub Industries has done work for a number of Southern Indiana clients, ranging from the City of Madison and Madison Consolidated Schools Corp. to large and small area businesses. Producing everything from large metal gates and tree grates to name tags and individual trophies and awards, Cub Industries launched as a manufacturing program in 2015, and added engineering in 2018.

Local swizzle-stick maker Royer Corp. is an example of a firm that has bought into the program enthusiastically. The company, which has for decades produced promotional items (you might have stirred your drinks with Royer products on major airlines, in Las Vegas casinos and at high-profile restaurants), tapped Cub Industries to design and produce the “2022” cake toppers that it sells on Amazon Marketplace. To equip the students for the project, Royer donated a Radian laser system to the high school.

Although they rely on Cub Industries for needed products, firms like Royer view Cub Industries as more than just another supplier, said Whitney Mathews, who coordinates the Cub Industries program. They also see it as a pipeline to future employees. One of the students agrees: “I think a part of being supportive is we’re going to grow up and be prepared to work in their businesses,” said MCHS junior Chip Cox, a Cub Engineering participant. “They see us as partners.”

Cox’s future plans would suggest that the talent pipeline is working as intended. Admitting that he “didn’t know what an engineer did until last year,” Cox now plans to go into engineering and apply his skills close to home. “I really like engineering, and I really like where I’m at,” he said. “I really like Madison, so I’ll probably go to one of our manufacturers and work for them.”

Mathews said a lot of the seniors coming out of the program this year have internships lined up, and one has already been offered a full-time job.

One of the biggest benefits to those firms, Cox and Mathews said, is that the students learn a lot more than just the technical aspects of creating products like the Rising 30 coasters. They also learn about collaborating with colleagues, the process of discovering and meeting a customer’s needs, budgeting, acquiring materials, pricing and more.

“It is a full circle kind of learning experience,” Mathews said. “They learn a lot.”

Meet the Rising 30 Class of 2022 here.