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Sparking the Future

Trident employees embrace the company's culture of caring with steel donation to local trade school.

Sparking the Future

Just like an art class needs paint, brushes and canvases for its classroom – so too does a welding program require a healthy supply of scrap steel for its students in order to ply the tricks of the trade.

Unfortunately, the ongoing hunt to source suitable “classroom supplies” of scrap metal can present a logistical and financial burden for some welding schools, especially as they work to keep pace with the strong national demand for welders. According to the American Welding Society, some 90,000 jobs need to be filled annually for the next several years.

Enter Trident Seafoods’ Zack Martin, who is closely familiar with the material needs of welding schools due to his time as a former student, substitute teacher and advisory board member at Clover Park Technical College (CPTC) in Lakewood, Washington.

A Donation Forged in Trident's Vision, Mission and Values

Martin currently serves as a certified welding inspector at Trident’s Tacoma Yard, where he ensures the company’s welders are appropriately trained and performing to standards. To do their jobs, the crew relies on a large steel stockpile to maintain vessels returning from the harsh weather conditions in Alaska.

When the leftover scrap steel at the Tacoma Yard starts to accumulate, it’s typically sent to the scrapyard in exchange for pennies per pound. But last fall, Martin and his fellow Trident colleagues came up with the idea of directing the scrap steel to a greater purpose at CPTC.

Last October, Trident delivered 10,000 lbs of scrap stainless steel to CPTC

“We had a large amount of discarded material that we thought could be better utilized,” Martin said. “We knew that students at Clover Park’s welding program could make good use out of the steel in the classroom.”

Last October, Trident delivered 10,000 pounds (six totes) of scrap stainless and mild steel to CPTC. And it was the nature of the batch – primarily pipe and pipe fittings – that was particularly valuable for the school. Just ask Lester Burkes, dean of CPTC’s welding school.

“The material Trident donated has enabled CPTC to offer new types of coursework in pipe welding, which is a really sought after skillset but not currently available as a curriculum by other local schools,” Burkes said. “With Trident’s scrap pipes, CPTP is now working towards introducing a pipe welding certification in the fall of 2024 or winter of 2025.”

Setting Students Up for Success

A major benefit to trade education is that students are often set up to secure well-paying jobs in high-demand fields, right out of school.

“When students see large companies like Trident supporting our programs, it helps them understand what they’re doing is worthwhile and important, and it motivates them, because they feel like they’ll have work opportunities when they’re done,” added Lester.

Another draw to trade education is that it’s viewed as the more affordable option for someone who wants to further their education and learn a new trade. Keeping tuition costs low is a major draw for someone who wants to pursue career in a trade, and Trident’s donation helps CPTC do just that. Since they no longer have to purchase scrap steel themselves, the school puts that money towards keeping student tuition fees low, reinvesting those resources in other classroom equipment.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the prices more than double when purchasing our scrap steel, which we need to run our programs,” Lester said. “Thanks to Trident, we can mitigate our student fees for at least the next several quarters, which is critical to our ability to recruit new students and ultimately expand the workforce. And like a gift that keeps on giving – once the steel has finished its lifespan as a teaching tool, we’ll sell it to the scrapyard for recycling and put those funds back into the program. In the end, we’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars that will be saved by CPTC with this single donation.”

Making People's Lives Better

Trident views the donation as the latest investment in developing the next generation of skills tradespeople, which is a major focus for the company. Last year the company announced an innovative Skilled Trades Trainee Program, which provides trainees with robust classroom and on-the-job training to learn specialized and highly valuable skills.

The donation is also an example of how Trident employees around the globe embrace the company’s values of caring for each other, pursuing excellence and doing the right thing.

“We believe the donation is a true win-win,” Martin said. “CPTC is able to bolster and expand their programs; Trident supports a workforce pipeline for certified tradespeople in the midst of a national labor shortage.”

Not only will the steel be used as a teaching tool for future welders, but current Trident employees also benefit as part of an ongoing program that sends employees to CPTC for professional development, particularly in the cutting-edge field of mechatronics. Joel Carlson, Training and Development manager at Trident, oversees the partnership with CPTC and recognizes the value of keeping current workers trained while simultaneously developing the next generation.

“Skilled trade workers are the backbone of the American economy and that is especially true in the seafood industry,” Carlson said. “Every day, our teams of trained mechanics, welders, machinists, electricians, and more are relied upon to keep our vessels and plants operating smoothly in frequently extreme conditions. Building strong relationships with local trade schools and our communities is essential to our shared success, where everyone benefits, and ultimately serves Trident’s vision of making people’s lives better.”