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Thune talks manufacturing with Tea business

In an effort to get an idea of the level of manufacturing that is in Tea, Senator John Thune (R-SD) visited with Chad Ulvestad at Specialized Machine in Tea this past Tuesday afternoon.

Specialized Machine manufactures parts that are used by various industries, including aerospace, medical, robotics and other companies. They use highly sophisticated equipment to cut parts out of aluminum, stainless steel or plastic; this process requires highly skilled CNC Machinists. The company has been in Tea for 12 years and in their current facility on Cody Trail since 2014. They have five full-time employees and three part-time employees.

Ulvestad said that he talked with Thune “extensively about the shortage of a skilled workforce.”

Getting the younger generation involved in the technical fields could help solve the workforce shortage.

Specialized Machine has been a part of programs that reach out to get the interest of young people. They partnered with South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions with the “Dream It, Do It” program. In the past, they partnered with the Tea Middle School and Sioux Falls Boys and Girls Club and this year will partner with Parker Middle School with this program.

“The intent of the program is to expose kids to what a job in manufacturing is like in today’s world, as well as educating parents as to the option for technical careers available to their children,” explained Ulvestad.

Thune and Ulvestad also discussed how the tariffs might impact the prices of the raw materials used by the company.

All in all it was a productive afternoon.

“I’m very thankful that Senator Thune and his team took the time to visit us today to learn about both our challenges and our successes,” concluded Ulvestad.

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