Menomonie, Wis. — A Minnesota-based company has been recognized by University of Wisconsin-Stout as its Employer of the Year.
Fastenal, from Winona, Minn., recently was honored by the university’s Career Services office for its efforts to engage with students on multiple levels during the 2021-22 academic year.
“Fastenal’s culture and value resonate very clearly with our students and the culture of our campus. We promote applied learning, and they support applied learning,” said Bryan Barts, Career Services director.
Fastenal, the largest fastener distributor in North America, with more than 21,000 employees at 2,227 branches, has doubled the number of UW-Stout graduates it employs in the last two years.
This year, the company stepped up its efforts on campus under first-year Regional Recruiter Juan Ramirez, including:
- Attending multiple days of the spring and fall Career Conferences
- Helping students with mock interviews and resume tips during Career Conferences prep weeks
- Hiring students through the university’s Cooperative Education and Internship Program
- Providing professionals to speak in classes
- Serving on academic program advisory committees and employer panel discussions
- Taking part in lunch-and-learn sessions with students.
Fastenal also was one of 14 companies taking part this past academic year in the Career Services Partnership Program at UW-Stout. The program works with employers to identify their strategic focus and build deeper connections with students and academic programs on campus.
“I’m excited to work with Career Services, to help students connect and get set up to be successful,” Ramirez said. “We’re a resource for students and are looking to build that relationship.”
Graduates hired in recent years are from a variety of majors, including engineering, applied mathematics and computer science, interior design, supply chain management, business administration, and professional communication and emerging media.
Ramirez, of Chippewa Falls, has a master’s degree in school counseling from UW-Stout and previously worked as a school counselor at Menomonie High School. His duties included helping high school students with career planning.
Now, he’s helping students take the next step, starting their careers, and building on a company-university relationship that goes back more than 25 years.
“We know Stout has great students,” Ramirez said, citing the university’s in-demand students with a 98.4% employment rate for recent graduates. “We’re looking for great people who fit our company and our culture.”
Fastenal is a Fortune 500 company. It also is ranked No. 148 on Forbes’ list of best employers and No. 472 in Forbes’ ranking of top public companies.
Ramirez attended the award presentation at UW-Stout with six other Fastenal representatives, including Mike Rausch, director of recruiting; Tony Eger, district manager; Justin Oleson, Menomonie Fastenal general manager; Chris Rivard, engineering manager; Shannon Hintz, Lean Solutions manager; and Bruce Brinkmann, regional sales specialist.
The campus visit included touring engineering labs in Jarvis and Fryklund halls, discussing the business administration program with Professor Mark Fenton and meeting with Chancellor Katherine Frank.
Rausch said Fastenal is “looking for future leaders” when it hires college graduates, with the opportunity to grow into their careers or switch careers within the company. The company has a promote-from-within philosophy, he said.
Along with Barts, Frank and Fenton, UW-Stout officials taking part were Provost Glendalí Rodriguez; assistant professors of engineering Vince Wheeler and Anne Schmitz; instrument instructor Paul Craig; and Michelle Dingwall, senior development officer for Stout University Foundation.
Career Services began the Employer of the Year award in 2021. The first recipient was Menards.
“These are companies that set the bar high, that set the standard,” Barts said of the award winners.
Student success is the leading goal of UW-Stout’s FOCUS2030 strategic plan.
In 2021, CollegeValuesOnline ranked UW-Stout No. 26 in the U.S. for its ties to business and industry and how those ties benefit students.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.