Walnut Creek Planing part of 5th Grade Farm Tour

Walnut Creek Planing part of 5th Grade Farm Tour

Image Credit: Dave Mast

While the East Holmes fifth- and sixth-grade students were learning about soil and water conservation during the Tom Graham 5th Grade Farm Tour that took place Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Ayrdell Farm, the students’ eyes were opened to a whole different world, that being the world of manufacturing, where the kids toured a local company that is both cutting edge and service oriented.

As part of the East Holmes tour, Chad Wengerd, Tim Miller, Mark Hostetler and Wes Miller of Walnut Creek Planing took the students on the tour through the company’s huge facility on state Route 515 near Trail, showing students the robotics that go into creating the various products the company makes including stair parts, one of its largest product lines, and paint brush handles, of which they make an average of 1,100 per hour with many of those going to its largest buyer, Wooster Brush.

Then there were the enviro-bricks, compacted sawdust bricks made from the sawdust of the products they make. These bricks showed the students how conservation-friendly the company is, utilizing every part of the wood in creating usable products. The enviro-bricks are utilized mainly locally as an inexpensive and conservation-friendly heating unit.

Wengerd, the plant manager, said participating in the Tom Graham 5th Grade Farm Tour was an exciting opportunity for the company because it enjoys giving tours to visiting schools and other groups and likes the idea of teaching young people about how they work on conservation practices and how important it is to do that in everyday life.

“It’s a great way to be a part of the community while educating people on manufacturing values and what we do here in Holmes County,” Wengerd said. “I think we are just one example of what Holmes County businesses are capable of producing, and at the same time, we like the idea of teaching our children that there are viable and worthwhile jobs in the manufacturing industry right in their own back yard.”

Wengerd and Miller led the groups and talked about how Walnut Creek Planing has gone to great lengths to ensure it uses every part of its waste and turns it into a usable product. They talked about how efficiency is such an integral part of any business.

All the tour guides in the plant talked about the joy they got in watching kids’ eyes light up when they got to witness the robotics involved in the making of different products. While it was loud and there was a lot going on, the visit to the planing company presented a unique bit of insight into a thriving local company.

“The kids got to see a part of the industry that isn’t typically thought of when it comes to planing and working with wood,” Wengerd said. “We are proud of that and how we take great effort in conservation practices and in presenting Holmes County businesses in a positive way.”

He said they believe they are on the leading edge of the planing industry, and he said there are many businesses throughout Holmes County that also can make that statement. He said giving young people a chance to witness all the positive growth within the county and the many possible job opportunities out there is something they cherish, as do many other companies.

“These kids visiting today got to see something go from a board into a finished product that they can see and touch and feel,” Wengerd said.

While the 5th Grade Farm Tour presented one possible opportunity to open the eyes of the possibilities of the future to Holmes County youth, it is only one example of many times area businesses open their doors to give presentations to young people about the growth and opportunities of local businesses making a positive impact on the local economy and job market.