RCC Grad Josh Williams
Beginning at an early age, Josh Williams would often peer down at his bicycle frame and carefully check out the welded connections. “I always knew I wanted to learn how to put those materials together,” Williams said.
He started touring on the BMX racing circuit at age 4 and was familiar with the importance of bike durability.
Taking welding classes at Grants Pass High School set Williams on a path to follow his interests, and after graduating in 2006, he enrolled in the Rogue Community College Welding Technology program. “I really started getting serious about honing my skills at RCC,” said Williams, who went on to earn an associate’s degree. “RCC is a great place to learn.”
Now 22, Williams started working last year for Isla Carmen LLC, a small, innovative Grants Pass manufacturing and development company. Founded in 2000, the company makes and ships Chameleon floor registers, a unique flush-mounted floor grill, coast-to-coast to contractors, installers, architects, distributors and wholesalers. Isla Carmen is co-owned by Mark Goracke and Steve Albert.
When he was first hired, Williams started off doing shipping and receiving and quickly worked into production, which is “right up my alley,” he said. “I’m now working full time and feel very fortunate.” His bosses feel equally lucky to have Williams on board.
“Whoever his teachers were at RCC and Grants Pass High, I need to shake their hands,” Goracke noted. “They really helped him achieve his goals. Josh speaks very highly of both programs.”
Goracke has taken RCC courses himself, which helped strengthen the company. “The college’s Small Business Development Center gets you grounded,” he said. “If you were running on hunches, they help you factualize things. And it’s excellent being in classes with other business people; their feedback is very helpful.”
Williams guided the company’s selection of new welding equipment, Goracke said, adding that Isla Carmen strives to purchase domestically produced tools and materials. “Josh helped steer us toward what we need and set it up. It’s not a simple matter. He’s a pretty remarkable person — I wish we could clone him.”
While still in high school, Williams took a number of RCC’s College Now Credits, which saved him time and money when he began attending Rogue. “I got a lot of prerequisites out of the way,” he said, adding that receiving several RCC Foundation scholarships “made a huge difference.”
Williams said he learned more than welding while earning his degree; he gained skills that will help him reach his goal of building mountain bike frames. “At the time I wasn’t so sure how applicable other classes were to my work, but I’ve seen how they helped me better myself,” he said. Math skills come in handy daily, and a communication class taught by Bobbi Kidder helped Williams become a more well-rounded individual.
“The best thing about welding is you can fix whatever you break and save a lot of money. And I like the challenge of taking on a project and working with my hands. Then you can step back and feel a sense of accomplishment.”
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