Toolbox Winner Travis Blasier Says “Never Stop Learning”

Travis Blasier, a turning center setup specialist at N. E. W. Industries in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is the October winner of the “Tools You Can Use” contest. His prize is a Kobalt stainless steel tool chest.

Travis Blasier says that if you’re not educating for the future, you’re not helping yourself. In the photo above, which was the October winnining entry, he’s working at a Mori Seiki SL 400, one of the CNCs he helps keep running at the shop.
Remember the cool tool chest we featured in this blog post? As part of the “Tools You Can Use” contest at the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) at IMTS, Gardner Business Media awarded a 53" Kobalt stainless steel tool chest to Travis Blasier, 1st shift turning center setup at N. E. W. Industries.
Travis went to IMTS to learn more about turning centers. He says he’s a firm believer in education. “If you want to learn, it’s all there (at IMTS). All you have to do is listen.” He says he found the show fascinating and looks forward to the next one. “This is the place to go if you want to see all the new equipment. Everybody has so much to teach.”
Travis’ job is to keep all the CNC lathes at N.E.W. Industries up and running. The company has more than 25 CNC turning centers (mostly Mori Seiki) that run 24 hours a day. In the photo above, Travis is standing in front of a Mori Seiki SL 400 turning center. The company takes on high-mix, high-volume jobs ranging from bolts to car pedals to equipment for Oshkosh trucks. According to Travis, business is “booming.”
In 2006, Travis graduated from high school without a set plan. He saw an ad in his local paper that New Industries was looking for operators. Even though he had no formal education in the field, he figured he was mechanically inclined, so he’d give it a try.
He gives credit to his employers, a family-owned business established in 1983, because they are willing to hire people with no formal training. “The company takes a person they think they can work with and then we teach them. We have all the tools here to teach,” Travis says. He guesses that about half of the nearly 200 people at the facility working in three shifts have no formal training.

The company is now hiring, but it’s hard to get the right people in the door, Travis says. “It can be quite scary for a person coming in and seeing these big pieces of metal spinning so fast,” Travis says. But it’s a cool place to work and a cool industry to work in—it’s definitely not the dark and gloomy factory environment that manufacturing was in the past, he says. Travis has spent a combined two years at the company (he left for a couple of months to go to the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Florida) because its training philosophy matches his own. “My personal philosophy is if you’re not educating for the future, you’re not helping yourself.” 



Travis was so happy to receive the toolbox that he started "rocking the air guitar."