NWTC retraining helps disabled worker return to work
October 18, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Clintonville company, employee honored” — CLINTONVILLE – October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The state is honoring a company in Clintonville, for rehiring a former employee who is now wheelchair bound.
Operating the press brake at Walker Forge is a job Jake Dudzik loved to do.
“It was definitely a fun job out there that’s for sure,” said Dudzik.
It was until 2007. That’s when Dudzik was partially paralyzed in a diving accident. But being wheelchair bound doesn’t mean he’s out of work.
“It was Jake’s initiative to go to school and be successful at school that allows him to work here. We didn’t take his classes or get his degree for him, he did all of that himself,” said company president Richard Recktenwald.
Three years and a drafting degree later, Dudzik returned to Walker Forge full-time in March.
“I was never one who wanted to go back to school before this that’s for sure, but I had a good group of classmates and teachers and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be,” said Dudzik.
Dudzik now works in front of a computer analyzing projects and preparing cost estimates. While Jake no longer works on the factory floor he says he enjoys his new position and most of all, he says he appreciates being treated like everyone else.
“Just another guy in the shop pretty much is all it is and that’s the way I want it,” he said.
Dudzik’s father Brian also works at the company. He says the state recognition is well deserved.
“It was a long road to go down and today is a proud day for all of us; I mean he had a lot of hard work today.”
Recktenwald says Jake is still a valuable member of the company.
“All we did was give a job to a person with the right skills at a time we had an opening,” said Recktenwald.
And that was all Jake was looking for.
The state gave both the company and Dudzik plaques Tuesday. Walker Forge employs more than 400 people in Clintonville, including several others with various disabilities.