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2014 Cardinal Manufacturing Open House 

On November 19, Cardinal Manufacturing will host their annual Open House to showcase the student-operated machine shop run out of Eleva-Strum High School.

Craig forecasts the event to be

  The most exciting Open House ever!  


© 2014, Creative Technology Corp. 

With prize drawings that range from a laptop computer to a chicken grill, several hands-on activities for students and attendees supported by the Chippewa Valley Technical College Mobile Lab, and last but not least, a celebrity appearance of Luke Duke, from the “Dukes of Hazard”... could you blame him? We're getting excited just thinking about it!  


WIDIA is Proud to Sponsor Cardinal Open House

WIDIA proudly supports Craig and his hard-working team at Cardinal Manufacturing. It's no secret that "Addressing the Skills Gap" is a very hot topic in the Manufacturing Industry right now. Through the Cardinal Manufacturing Program, students as young as 14 years-old are granted the opportunity to experience hands-on projects with high-class machinery. They are addressing real-time tasks and answering to paying customers. They are creating loyal partnerships with not only their customers, but the community and many businesses that support them. 

Could you dream of a better path for moving forward in this industry? 


Bernie McConnell, WIDIA VP, is a huge fan of Cardinal Manufacturing.    

WIDIA is a proud sponsor of Cardinal Manufacturing in Wisconsin because of the focus they place on educating tomorrow's workforce on real-world manufacturing experiences, technical knowledge sharing, and problem-solving techniques. One of the most important things we can do is effectively educate our youth, and open their eyes to new opportunities that exist in all industries, especially manufacturing -- the backbone of our economy. Cardinal does a great job of showing students how highly technical the world of manufacturing is today. Everything is computer numerically controlled with high levels of sophistication and micron type accuracy. Machine shops of today are a lot different than they were 20-30 years ago, and we need to make sure our students know this is a viable career opportunity. 

Applications Engineers and WIDIA representatives, Don Barta and Kevin Meyer, will be in attendance to showcase the latest WIDIA products and innovations. WIDIA is excited to announce that both men will also be presenting live NOVOSphere demos for Open House attendees. NOVOSphere, a single-source, on-demand performance solution for tool advising, selecting, and configuring, was recently released during IMTS in September 2014.


A Well-Deserved Celebration

Though much has changed with Cardinal Manufacturing since its beginnings back in 2007, one thing that has (and always will) remain the same is Craig's passion for teaching his students what business is truly all about.

Open House is the ideal opportunity for the students to stand as professionals in the business they've helped to build. But more importantly, it gives them a chance to exemplify the soft skills that they've developed. 

  © 2014, Creative Technology Corp.   



Keeping Up With Cardinal Manufacturing 

There is always a 5-year plan in place for Cardinal Manufacturing.

My aspirations are to continue to try and improve, each day.

We are happy with where we are, but have many, many ideas on how we can improve... whether it is small or large.  

 Craig Cegielski, Creator


Cardinal Culture

Craig and his crew at Cardinal Manufacturing recently accepted a $20,000 Wisconsin State Grant to further develop their marketing strategy, as a manufacturing brand. With the huge help of a local and loyal marketing company who adopted their program as a first-priority project, Cardinal has inched closer and closer to securing a culture that soon will be shared with aspiring schools all over the country.

We want to continue to refine what we do, and then share our model of education with anyone who is interested.


Interest is the last thing these students need to worry about attracting. As the brand continues to grow, it's as if the public just can't get enough of Cardinal Manufacturing.

 © 2014, Creative Technology Corp.

Craig's dream of capturing true "Cardinal Culture" comes from his passion to spread manufacturing (and soft skills) knowledge far beyond his own classroom -- or, jobshop.

 I want to create a workshop that the students and I will teach to anyone next summer, on how to replicate Cardinal Manufacturing. Teachers and industry partners from around the country will be able to come to our school, create a plan to implement, and leave with templates and a solid plan.


Making a Presence

  • '14 IMTS Tradeshow (International Manufacturing Technology Show)
  • '14 AMBA Conference (American Mold Builders Assoc.) 
  • '14 MAPP Conference (Manufacturers Assoc. for Plastics Processors) 
  • '14 WIRSA Conference (Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance)


The $37,500 Challenge

Cardinal Manufacturing operates under a system called, "The 10 Commandments of Career Success,"created by the Nexen Group -- a worldwide distributor, with a manufacturing facility located in Webster, WI.

Along with their VP, Dan Conroy, The Nexon Group recently proposed the following challenge to Cardinal Manufacturing:

Raise $37,500 throughout the 2014-2015 Academic Year, and Nexen Group will match donations in support of a new CNC machine for the Eleva-Strum shop. 

© 2014, Creative Technology Corp.   


With a grand total of $75,000, Craig estimates Cardinal Manufacturing will have a bright future on their hands. Not only will they satisfy their need for a new CNC machine, but they will also have the opportunity to purchase additional equipment for addressing jobs in an even timelier manner.


For more information on Cardinal Manufacturing, visit:



Cardinal Manufacturing: Revolutionizing Manufacturing Education

Cardinal Manufacturing

In Strum, Wisconsin, you can find a vocational manufacturing program where students are taking “hands-on experience” to a whole new level. Cardinal Manufacturing grants high school students the opportunity to acquire career-level experience, within an educational setting. Under the supervision of Cardinal Manufacturing creator, Craig Cegielski, the sky is the limit for these young professionals.

     According to Craig,

Cardinal Manufacturing is a manufacturing company where students are responsible for all aspects of operation. Cardinal Manufacturing students learn:   

  • Advanced Machining Skills
  • Welding Skills
  • Employability Skills
  • Soft Skills
  • Manufacturing Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Everything it takes to work for a manufacturing company 


Strictly Business

Cardinal Manufacturing specializes in small batch custom parts made from a wide variety of materials. To instill students with the characteristics and skills needed to run a business, the vocational manufacturing program is a student-run machine shop.

 © 2014, Creative Technology Corp.


“I do sometimes forget that I’m working with 14 to 18 year olds. I want the students to advance their manufacturing skills, of course, but more than that, I want them to learn what it takes to be a good employee. The longer I teach, the more I realize it’s the technical skills that are the least important. It’s the soft skills, employability skills, and problem-solving skills that are the most important. I want them to know how to work effectively with others by communicating well, staying on task, being prompt, and meeting deadlines.”  


Addressing the Skills Gap

Today, the Cardinal Manufacturing Program stands for something even greater than it had back in 2007. Headlining their brand-new website is the motto: “Cardinal Manufacturing, Filling the Skills gap One Student at a Time.” Initially formed to provide exceptional education opportunities for students interested in the field of manufacturing, the program quickly developed into a localized success story for addressing the skills gap in advanced manufacturing.

 © 2012 Creative Technology Corp, Courtesy Gardner Business Media 

 “I want them to learn about many different careers, so they can make an informed decision about what they want to pursue after high school. I want them to know what training will be necessary to move forward. I want all of my students to find a rewarding career, and know they will enjoy going to work each day. We have had a high percentage of my students who have gone into all aspects of manufacturing.”

But working a CNC machine isn’t the only skill that Craig prides his pupils on.

“[Again] my most important job is to teach them how to be a great employee and make good decisions. I just happen to be teaching these skills in a manufacturing setting.”  

It’s the soft skills, professionalism, and work ethic that Craig knows employers crave. Prepping his students for a manufacturing-related career is one thing, but doing what he can to address the soft skills gap, is another.


We're All In This Together

Cardinal Manufacturing is possible because of partnership. Through the relationships that the students have built with the staff and administration of their school district, with the community members of both the Eleva and Strum townships, with their fans that span the entire state of Wisconsin, and with the many national industry partners that have generously provided funding and support for their growth, the students are confident in continuing to plan for years into the future.   


© 2014, Creative Technology Corp.

“I teach in a very small town, but we have a very supportive community. We are happy with where we are, but have many ideas on how we can improve. So many industry partners, like WIDIA, have been so generous to help us expand our program. It is a new approach to teaching manufacturing education, and is working extremely well for us here at Eleva-Strum High School.”