Iowa Valley Grinnell hosts Gunsmith Technology open house
State and local dignitaries turned out in spades for Iowa Valley Grinnell’s new Gunsmith Technology program open house, but it was the unique partnership with Brownells and the enthusiasm of the IVG students that stole the show. The students welcomed guests to the campus, conducted show-and-tell tours of the Gunsmith Technology lab, and answered questions before and after the ribbon cutting program and ceremony.
MaryAnne Nickle, Dean of Iowa Valley Grinnell, explained that the new IVG Gunsmith Technology program is unique in the state of Iowa and is the newest among a small group of gunsmithing programs across the country. The gunsmithing field encompasses metal working, woodworking and machining, and is an essential expertise in support of both law enforcement and military personnel. The new IVG degree program would not be possible without the support of nearby Brownells Inc., the world’s largest supplier of gun parts, gunsmith tools and shooting accessories.
“Whenever we consider a new program, we look to the needs of the community,” explained Nickle. “In this instance, one of our local corporations and a valued partner, Brownells, is an international leader in the gunsmithing industry. Pete Brownell brought the need for a Midwestern gunsmithing program to our attention and allowed one of the company’s trademarked gun tech experts, David Bennetts, to help develop the curriculum; David is now our lead instructor. Brownells continued its support of the program with a generous donation that helped us buy equipment this summer, and the company also allows our students to purchase discounted materials and instructional resources.”
Nickle said the program can accommodate 12 students, and 11 are enrolled this fall. The students are excited about the caliber of training they’re receiving, and also about their job prospects after graduation.
Both Pete (CEO) and Frank (Chairman of the Board) Brownell were at the open house ceremony. Pete Brownell said the company has been pleased to partner with Iowa Valley Grinnell in keeping with his grandfather’s motto: “Show me a town without gunsmithing and I’ll show you a town without guns.”
“We want to thank Iowa Valley Grinnell, David Bennetts, Tony Barnes and the students in this new program for making the new Gunsmith Technology program work,” said Pete Brownell. “We needed a facility and a partnership like this to build a network and grow the gunsmithing industry in Iowa and the Midwest.”
Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, said, “Iowa welcomes the firearms industry, and we’re grateful for this investment and all that’s being done here. This program is building momentum for growth. Iowa is all about value-added manufacturing, and we need programs like this to build the workforce. There’s no better way to provide this technical training than through Iowa’s community colleges. And the advisory board for this program reads like a Who’s Who for the industry, giving great credibility.”
The Gunsmith Technology Advisory Board includes Tom Kriegel, Heath Jepsen, Chris Olsen, Meg Ruzak, Doug Turnbull, Roy Christensen and Sharon Dressel. The membership is representative of Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington and New York, and includes a representative of the Iowa National Guard.
Other speakers included IVCCD Board of Directors member Paul Pohlson of Grinnell; Senator Tim Kapucian (District 38); Representative Dave Maxwell (District 76); Dr. Brad Buck, Director of the Iowa Department of Education; and Dr. Robin Shaffer Lilienthal, Provost of Marshalltown Community College.
RIBBON CUTTING PHOTO – The ribbon-cutting ceremony included, from left: Dr. Robin Shaffer Lilienthal, Provost of Marshalltown Community College; Dr. Brad Buck, Director of the Iowa Department of Education; Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells Inc.; Sen. Tim Kapucian, District 38; Rep. Dave Maxwell, District 76; Frank Brownell, Chairman of the Board for Brownells Inc.; David Bennetts, IVG Gunsmith Technology instructor; Paul Pohlson (in back), IVCCD Board of Directors; and MaryAnne Nickle, Dean of Iowa Valley Grinnell.
PETE BROWNELL PHOTO – Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells, Inc., in Montezuma and a key partner in the new Iowa Valley Grinnell Gunsmith Technology program, told the crowd that the state needed a facility like Iowa Valley Grinnell to build a gunsmithing network and help grow the gunsmithing industry. Brownells, Inc. is an international leader in supplying gunsmiths with the tools and equipment to be successful. The company is building a new warehouse and office facility in Grinnell, which will be open in early 2014.
GUNSMITHING SHOW-AND-TELL PHOTO – Gunsmithing student Kalee Burkett of Grinnell explains the gunsmithing process and tools to Beth Balzer and Debi Durham, Business Development Project Director and Director, respectively, of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.