Category Archives: Skills Stories



Good luck to Skills Inc. Technical Services employee and IRONMAN triathlete Vlad Schmidt! He is the fastest American Deaf IRONMAN, if not the world, making him a living embodiment of the IRONMAN mantra “Anything Is Possible”. Vlad’s dedication is truly inspiring.

Vlad has been a valued member of the Skills Inc. team for 9+ years. Russian born, he now lives in Seattle, speaks English, German, Russian, as well as American Sign Language, German Sign Language, and Russian Sign Language. He devotes 15-20 hours to training every week. He lives and breathes competitive triathlons and he’s not settling until he’s at the top of his age group at IRONMAN Kona, 2015.

To support the expenses associated with training and competing in IRONMAN 2015 is managing Vlad’s sponsorship efforts. If you would like to support Vlad, please visit his GoFundMe page.

Good luck Vlad! Your coworkers at Skills Inc. are so proud of you.


Life Changing Internship

Crystal Blanchel (middle) with supervisor Jeff Ivie and mentor Holly Frampton

Crystal Blanchet (middle) with supervisor Jeff Ivie and mentor Holly Frampton

As a senior in high school, Crystal Blanchet felt like she had hit a dead end. Unsure about what she would do after graduation she enrolled in the Aerospace Internship Program (AIP) at Skills Inc.

During the program, I gained experience both in the AIP classroom and on the shop floor. In class, I improved my knowledge on safety, computer basics, and career readiness. If I didn’t understand something the instructor would try to explain it in a way that I could. Through the classes, I gained knowledge that I can use in the work place and everywhere else. On the shop floor, I experienced at least one new thing per day and had a lot of great mentors. One of my favorites was Holly Frampton, who inspired me with her positive and caring attitude. She went out of her way to help me with my senior project. I was the first intern to ever work in the paint shop area and Holly taught me everything I needed to know.

Before the AIP came to an end, I applied for and was successfully offered a paid summer internship at Skills Inc. During the AIP, there are many things you are unable to do because of safety concerns, so my summer internship involved many new tasks. Learning new things was challenging, but I always powered through and continuously did what was asked of me. Finally, after the 90 day paid summer internship program I became a full-time employee.

I feel proud of myself and finally understand that everybody can succeed in life, you just have to want it. I love that I got a job right out of high school especially because it’s my first job, and I love it. It’s not every day that someone loves their first job, but I sure do. Though it is hard at times, I have come away with experiences that have and will always, influence me, my goals, and dreams.

The past two years have had a great impact on the development of my future. When I reflect back, it becomes clear that the education and life changing experiences I received taught me a lot about the person I am today, and the person I’ve been struggling to be. There are always obstacles that make you learn your weaknesses, but discovering your faults also makes you a stronger person. One of the greatest lessons that I will always carry with me, is that you only get out of life what you put into it.

This has been a life changing experience. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of the mentors and supervisors at work, and the support of my family and friends.

Skills Inc. Featured in Modern Machine Shop Magazine

Ready, Willing and Able to Work

Manufacturers seeking skilled workers should rid themselves of the misconceptions many hold about hiring disabled individuals, especially those with specialized industrial training.

Article From: 9/26/2014 Modern Machine Shop, Russ Willcutt , Associate Editor from Modern Machine Shop Magazine

Manufacturing professionals generally place the shortage of qualified workers near the top of their list of challenges, but many ignore a potential resource due to preconceived notions that are usually dated, and often untrue. At least, that’s the view of Skills Inc., an aerospace supplier with three locations based in and around Seattle, Washington. This nonprofit offers training, vocational services and job placement to special-needs employees and also hires them for its own purposes.

Cheryl Roe, MNPL (master’s in nonprofit leadership), director of programs and development, says, “Too many employers assign difficulties that simply don’t exist to the prospect of hiring people with disabilities. Part of our mission is to show that you really can succeed while at the same time helping others.”

Read the rest of the article on Modern Machine Shop’s website.



A True Hero

On September 25th, Greg Bernsten, Level 2 Anodizer at Auburn North, received the Governor’s Life Saving Award for his role in giving CPR to a coworker earlier this year. He was recognized at an awards luncheon during the Washington Governor’s Safety and Health Conference held in Spokane last week. His valiant efforts are described below:

“On February 21, 2014, an employee in the chemical processing department at Auburn North fell to the floor without warning. He was unresponsive, had stopped breathing, and was in cardiac arrest. Greg Berntsen, a coworker, saw him fall and rendered aid. Having been trained in CPR at Skills Inc., Greg initiated chest compressions, while a supervisor called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived they took over and were able to resuscitate the employee. The responding medics and the emergency room doctor both indicated that early CPR likely saved this man’s life and helped prevent brain damage due to lack of oxygen. The employee not only survived, but returned to work three weeks later.”

We are extremely proud and grateful for Greg’s heroic actions!

from left: Skills Inc. employees Holly Frampton, Greg Bernsten, Bill George, and Janet Biesold

from left: employees Holly Frampton, Greg Bernsten, Bill George, and Janet Biesold