February 2008: Making the Grade

Words: Dan KamysFebruary 2008 Making the Grade

Commitment, Hard Work Pay Off

Ben Pagenkopf shows us that life — and work — require time management.

On his resume, Ben Pagenkopf describes himself as a "masonry worker with a strong work ethic and effective time-management skills," and the proof is in the pudding. Pagenkopf's instructors and employers vouch for his work ethic, and his schedule documents his time-management skills.

Commitment is one of Pagenkopf's overwhelmingly strong characteristics. In high school, he was a member of the wrestling, football and track teams. Somehow, he made time to be an athlete while working part-time as a construction machinery operator and a sawmill operator.

Pagenkopf's academic efforts in high school earned him a cumulative 3.98 grade point average. This accomplishment earned him eight scholarships that helped him defray the expenses of his technical training at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) in Fennimore, Wis.

[caption id="attachment_10778" align="alignright" width="200"]Ben Pagenkopf believes in following through on the job. Ben Pagenkopf believes in following through on the job.[/caption] "Ben came to Southwest Tech with strong academic and mechanical skills," says Don Borchert, Pagenkopf's instructor. "He used these skills to progress quickly. When Ben participated in the Wisconsin State competition, he scored higher than any Southwest Tech student had in the past."

That's quite an accomplishment for Pagenkopf, since Borchert's students at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College have represented the state of Wisconsin in the national masonry contest for the last seven years.

After graduation from SWTC, Pagenkopf accepted a bricklaying position with Ostrader Masonry. His manager, Kurt Ostrader, is pleased with Pagenkopf. "I'm a big supporter of the state's technical college programs," says Ostrader. "They teach a solid foundation of the basics of the trade. That allows me to immediately train them in how we operate in our business. I'm very happy with Don Borchert's training and development program."

Pagenkopf is complimentary of Borchert as well. "He has influenced me in many ways," he says, "most important, [he has taught me] to take pride in my work and always do my best."

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