By Jill Schuelke
When you grow up in a foundry town or in a foundry family, the concept of “summer job” can be life changing. At Waupaca Foundry, company leaders take a long term approach to summer help and many of today’s leaders started during summer break. Deandre Draeger is a human resources assistant who started as a summer student in 2010. Her father, Doug Draeger, will celebrate 30 years with the foundry and currently works as a project engineer.
Deandre started as a summer student working in stockroom where she filled pick lists with parts, inventoried parts and did whatever was needed. At the time, she was completing her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources/Marketing from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. As soon as she graduated in 2012, she knew she would come back home to Waupaca to work at the foundry.
“It’s actually fun to come to work,” Deandre said. “I get to work with people I’ve known my entire life and I like our culture of continuous improvement,” she said. Working at the foundry during her college years helped prepare her for a career—she learned proprietary software in the stockroom that she also used later in Human Resources. “I learned communications skills, developing relationships, working as a team, creative thinking and how to be open-minded with new projects,” she said.
Deandre is currently working on her masters degree which is being reimbursed by the company and she’s following in her father’s footsteps. More than 25 years ago, Doug Dreager started his education at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and was reimbursed for a portion of his degree in Mechanical Design. “Everyone in this company takes pride in it,” he said. “It seems more like a family atmosphere.”
Because Deandre was raised in a foundry family, she knew Waupaca Foundry was always in her future. However, she agrees that most young people aren’t aware of the opportunities in manufacturing. “Most people think of manufacturing only as one job on a production line, but the work breaks into so many opportunities at Waupaca Foundry.”