About 10 years ago, I was talking with Bill Vogel at what was then his company—DeCardy Diecasting. We talked about the fact that so many young people didn’t have a clue of the opportunities in local manufacturing companies that could provide a secure future for an employee and his or her family. Bill commented that in all his 40+ years in manufacturing, not one high school had ever invited him to come and speak to their students about manufacturing and the good-paying and interesting jobs that needed to be filled. This was particularly a sad irony to Bill in that DeCardy Diecasting is located on the West Side of Chicago in a community that had high unemployment, high poverty, and young people who faced an uncertain, and often dangerous future.
A couple of years later, Bill announced his retirement. Somehow, I heard about the retirement party that was being thrown for him. Even though I hadn’t been formally invited, I knew I wouldn’t miss it. I had a mission. It was a great party with lots of family and friends. When it came time for all that were gathered to express their appreciation to Bill, I spoke. I said I knew what Bill was going to do. He may be retiring from DeCardy but he still had work to do. We needed him to help us recruit high school students on the West Side to come to a new high school—Austin Polytechnical Academy—to learn about the careers available to them in manufacturing and to learn the skills and knowledge they would need to be successful in pursuing those careers.
The rest is history. Bill joined our staff as our industrial coordinator. For the last 8 years, he has personified everything that we are about. He has tirelessly recruited many other manufacturers, peer-to-peer, to become company partners for the Manufacturing Connect program and to open their doors to young people. He has tirelessly talked to our high school students about what could be available to them in manufacturing.
We celebrate his accomplishments and service to MR and the hundreds of youth on the West side he has worked with either through organizing fieldtrips to local manufacturing companies, driving them to their first job interview or helping them negotiate how to ask for tuition reimbursement after they’ve been on the job a year or more. We’ll hear the testimonies full of laughter, fun, and deep appreciation on Thursday, June 30th, 5-8 pm at Inspiration Kitchen on the West side of Chicago. This is an invitation to friends, family, and fans of Bill Vogel for dinner and for sharing your Bill Vogel stories to the evening.
Looking forward to seeing you on June 30th!