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GS Engineering designer named Veteran of the Year

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Kendell Kettle, Veteran Employment Services Representative for the Upper Peninsula, presents GS Engineer Design Engineer Stephen LaCourt with MichiganWorks and the Veterans’ Employment Services’ first-ever Veteran of the Year.

HOUGHTON — U.P. Michigan Works and Michigan Veterans’ Employment Services conducted a ceremony on Wednesday to recognize GS Engineering of Houghton for its dedication to employing military veterans, and to also present GS designer and employee, Stephen LaCourt, as Veteran of the Year.

“This business has not only been successful in its endeavors, but has also made it a priority to support veterans in their workforce and in their community,” Deb Brunell, CEO of U.P. Michigan Works said during the ceremony.

“Their dedication to providing opportunities, resources, and a supportive environment for veterans transitioning to civilian life is commendable.”

Kendell Kettle, Veteran Employment Representative for the Upper Peninsula, presented the award to Jim Vendlinski, vice president of Engineering Technology and Innovation at GS, who accepted on the company’s behalf.

“At the end of the day, we don’t really need an award,” Vendlinski said. “The award that we get is having these folks on our team. They add to the company; they add to what we do every day, and we really appreciated the support we get from Michigan Works and Veterans Employment Services.”

State Representative Greg Markkanen then presented Vendlinski with a Legislative Tribute on behalf of himself and Sen. Ed McBroom.

LaCourt was then presented with the Veteran of the Year Award, then a Legislative Tribute.

LaCourt is a designer with GS Engineering and has been with the company for just 15 months. He is a 12-year veteran of the Michigan National Guard as a combat engineer.

“I did a lot of construction and stuff,” he said, “even though it’s not combat engineer related.”

LaCourt said that Michigan Works gave him the resources and assistance with what employers might be seeking in an applicant in regards to his particular degree.

Brunell said that Michigan Works assists veterans with what they need to do in order to pursue and get the career they want.

“We were there for Steve when he needed us,” said Brunell, “but we worked closely with our partner, the Veteran Employment Services, and allowed them to do their job. We support where it’s necessary.”

While there is no set formula for finding employment for Military veterans, Brunell said.

“It’s a matter of working with the V.E.S. team,”she said, “and, really, picking out a company that’s easy to work with, that has the passion to work with veterans, like we all do. So, it was an easy decision to select GS.”

Markkanen said afterward that it is great to represent a veteran in Houghton County, as well as a business that supports veterans.

“We can’t do enough for veterans across the state of Michigan,” said Markkanen, who is Republican vice-chair on the House Committee on Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security. “Veterans are highly regarded across the U.P.”

Every county has a high percentage of veterans, he said and they need to be honored by everyone.

“GS Engineering does a wonderful job in doing that,” Markkanen said. “There are businesses across the whole U.P, that really support veterans coming off Active Duty.”

Many veterans are Reserve and National Guard, he said, and they it is very important that they are served, as well.

Vendlinski said he is excited to receive resumes from Military veterans.

“Because I know that they have, Number One, Leadership skills and self-dicsipline that’s basically a quality of every one of our veteran employees,” he said.

GS designs a lot of Defense products, Vendlinski said, and the veteran/employees have a unique experience in that in some instances, they have personally used some of the products GS designs.

“So, they have a lot of insight into not only how they’re used,” he said, “but how they’re serviced and maintained, basically the entire lifecycle of the product.”

In addition to the leadership and discipline qualities, when hiring veterans, the company also gets a leg up on the engineering insight they bring to the table.

GS Engineering is a firm focused on design and analysis services, product development, instrumented field testing, and technology insertion.

The GS team background encompasses professional expertise in diverse fields: Military Vehicles, Professional Motorsports, Commercial Trucks & Chassis, Consumer Automotive, Aerospace, Off-highway Construction Equipment, and High-Volume Manufacturing for a variety of industry-level applications.

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