IPI Star Shop Spotlight: Rockwell City

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Since opening in 2006, IPI’s Rockwell City Shop has been an integral operation in achieving our goals of providing incarcerated individuals (I/I's) with valuable job training and supplying quality products and services to our customers. The Rockwell City shop is managed by Production Technicians Martin Chase and Ryan Crampton and Supervisor Julie Holtorf. At Rockwell City, I/I's have the opportunity to obtain certifications and learn a multitude of hard skills, including metal fabrication, welding, and digital design.

On average, it takes roughly six months of working to obtain welding certification, a feat which is accomplished by 12 associates annually. With welding being such an in-demand occupation in Iowa, many I/I's have been able to secure and maintain welding jobs following their release due to the certification they received working at IPI.

“My greatest accomplishment at IPI has been graduating the Welding Apprenticeship Program, and just being able to maintain a positive mindset while being here,” said one Rockwell City associate.

Currently, two incarcerated men are receiving CAD (Computer-Aided Design) training, which allows them to create renderings of products before the manufacturing process even begins. Recently, the men in the program created the pictured rendering for a brand-new park bench design.

“The CAD training program gives these gentlemen a chance to see the whole process, from idea, to design, to creation,” said Rockwell City Production Technician Martin Chase. “Eventually when these individuals reenter the workforce, they will have a wide range of in-demand skills that employers desperately desire.”

Rockwell City has also been developing new products and prototypes to expand IPI’s array of offerings. One of these recent projects is the development of a Fire Hose Sprayer prototype for the local fire department. This device would attach to a fire hose and sit between structures to spray water on the non-burning structure to prevent the spread of fire. Associates at Rockwell City have also been working directly with the Iowa DNR to work on new grill prototypes. This is an example of an opportunity being provided to I/I’s to give them the experience of working directly with a customer to improve a product. 

In addition to these projects, the associates at Rockwell City have also been working to expand IPI’s metal picnic table and park bench offerings. This involves production research and working directly with IPI’s Commercial Team to establish new offerings for customers. Currently, a finished prototype of the new picnic table can be seen proudly displayed in the Des Moines Showroom.

The Rockwell City IPI welding shop recently refurbished a stool for the facility’s Security Director. A team of traditional IPI associates worked meticulously to disassemble and sandblast the old, rusty stool before a powder coat painter gave it new life with a custom Harley Davidson-inspired paint job. The stool was then reassembled and carefully packaged to be shipped to its destination. For the associates involved, the project was an exciting and fun opportunity to tackle a project with multiple steps and work together as a team.

The growth we’ve seen from Rockwell City has been astounding, not only in the sense of new products and service offerings, but also with the amount of opportunities that are provided to the associates who work there. Because of this, Rockwell continues to serve as a perfect representation of what we do at IPI and why it’s so important for the State of Iowa.

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