Tri-Rivers honors Whirlpool’s Distinguished Service

2019 Distinguished Service Recipients
The 2019 Tri-Rivers/Lautenslager Distinguished Service winners were honored at the Annual Board Dinner Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

This year’s Tri-Rivers/Lautenslager Distinguished Service winners were from WhirlpoolJoseph Hopple, Kevin Slane, David Lehner, Cameron Lee and Darryl Young.

These individuals’ contributions and partnerships with Tri-Rivers/RAMTEC have helped to solidify that the training in RAMTEC brings and keep jobs in our community as well as creating new advanced training for the area manufacturing communities.

On March 15,  2014 Senator Rob Portman visited RAMTEC for a Round Table discussion. Joe Hopple of Whirlpool was at that meeting. It was at this Round Table that bringing Whirlpool’s Apprenticeship program to RAMTEC was discussed.

The meeting was the catalyst to a great partnership between RAMTEC and Whirlpool that has led to high quality training for Whirlpool associates and has also enabled 9 of RAMTEC graduates to earn great paying and highly rewarding careers in robotics, automation and maintenance.

Hopple has also been a great partner in our many initiatives to bring collaborative robotics training and projects to Tri-Rivers.

Hopple, a proud graduate of a Pioneer Career Technical Center, believes in Tri-Rivers/RAMTEC’s mission. His support and input have been invaluable to Tri-Rivers’ RAMTEC.


Tri-Rivers Engineer Technologies Instructor Ritch Ramey met Kevin Slane (not pictured) and David Lehner at an Apprenticeship meeting in 2014. This meeting was the beginning of the RAMTEC secondary and post-secondary training excellence. The RAMTEC Instructors were able to use their state-of-the-art facility to help Whirlpool maintenance and tooling staff get incredible real-world, hands-on training for their Apprenticeship Program.

After Lehner took the RAMTEC FANUC Industrial Robotic Certification class with some of his staff, he asked if his son could still sign up for the high school Engineering Technologies program. Not only did his son, Nick, sign up, but three of his friends also joined the program. Nick excelled in the program and his dad became a valuable member of the Engineering Technologies Advisory Committee.

Cameron Lee started working with the Whirlpool Apprenticeship program in 2017. He has been in constant contact with the RAMTEC Team on the needs and progress of the RAMTEC staff and Whirlpool associates. He cares deeply about the success of the program and students.

Lee, along with Lehner, helped to establish a Summer Skilled Trades program for RAMTEC’s recent graduates. They interviewed nine applicants and hired six of them into great paying jobs and amazing experience.

Darryl Young has assisted by judging at the Chuck Speelman Vex Robotics Middle School Classic. He also brought an advanced robotics project for Whirlpool to RAMTEC students. He challenged RAMTEC’s students and their instructor, Mark Edington, with a “real world” project that when completed would go into the Whirlpool plant. It was a tough assignment, but they pulled it off. A launch day was held with Whirlpool Associates for the unveiling of this project. And plans were made for more research and development projects from Whirlpool for RAMTEC students. The Whirlpool Maintenance Staff has helped Tri-Rivers/RAMTEC create current and relevant training not only for the Whirlpool Apprenticeship Program, but also for Tri-Rivers/RAMTEC secondary and postsecondary students.

l-r:  RAMTEC Instructor Mark Edington, Whirlpool Maintenance Team: Joseph Hopple, David Lehner, Cameron Lee, Darryl Young and Kevin Slane (not pictured) and Tri-Rivers RAMTEC Engineering Technologies Instructor Ritch Ramey.

The first Distinguished Service Award was presented in 1993 to Jack Lautenslager, who is often referred to as Mr. Tri-Rivers. Lautenslager spearheaded the efforts to pass the original levy that provided the funds to build the Career Center that opened in 1976. He continued to share his expertise and talents with Tri-Rivers his entire life. Today the Distinguished Service Awards are presented in his memory to individuals or groups who donate their time, resources and/or talents in order to make Tri-Rivers Career Center an amazing resource for the communities it serves.