Champion Cooler plans for future after winning award

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DENISON, TX -- Vice President of Manufacturing Brian Aspell thanked the Denison community Friday, for helping his Champion Cooler become the Texas Workforce Commission's Employer of the Year.

"Team Denison, they're the ones that really made it happen," he said. "I just get to accept the award and jump five feet off the ground."

One of the reasons the company won, was because of the internship program and scholarships it offers to local high school students.

"We created $40,000 worth of scholarships, and now every year 10 high school students are going to get that opportunity," he said.

But Aspell is already looking into the future. He went to Grayson College with the idea for a machinist trade program.

"We're at a time in our country where the tool and die trade is really starting to age," he said.

Ronald DeCento, director of Continuing Education, said they're meeting with local plant managers to develop a training program focused on the needs of local manufacturers.

"Because we've heard local machine shops say 'if I could find the right person, I'd hire them to increase my abilities,'" he said.

He said the industry is in desperate need of younger, skilled tradesmen.

"But that's the reality. Kids used to grow up working in the backyard tinkering and stuff, but that doesn't happen anymore," he said.

Aspell said the community has everything it needs to usher in an industry boom in the next decade.

"We need young folks to be interested in the machining trade, so we can be competitive in the future," he said.

The college and local plant managers held two meetings so far. They plan to hold one more to hammer out the details of their new machinist program.

Aspell said they hope to start the program in June.

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