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Kronospan donates communication cards to FAME program

Anniston, Ala. — Kronospan LLC, the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-based panels, donated new equipment to the FAME program at Gadsden State Community College’s Ayers Campus.

Tim Lewis, maintenance manager, and Jerry Creel, training manager, met with Alan Smith, dean of Workforce Development, and Tarina Vannatta, instructor, to present two programmable logic control communication cards.

“The purpose of the cards is to improve lab experiences for the students,” Creel said.

FAME, Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, is a two-year technical associate degree program that combines cutting-edge curriculum and paid working experience.

“Our students learn about advanced manufacturing technology in the classroom and labs on campus and then put what they learn into use on the job,” Vannatta said. “They are also learning highly sought-after business principles and best practices of a world class manufacturer.”

Kronospan’s Eastaboga facility is one of 12 industry partners participating in the FAME program at Gadsden State. Seven Gadsden State students currently work for Kronospan with eight students from next cohort slated to come work for the company in the summer.

“We have a really good relationship with Gadsden State,” Creel said. “We’ve even hired Gadsden State graduates as permanent employees, and they are doing a great job for us.”

Vannatta said Kronospan has always been supportive of the FAME program since its inception in 2019.

“They stay in constant contact with us to help us with opportunities for improvement in our curriculum,” she said. “We are constantly improving because our industry partners are willing to invest time and energy in our program and in our students. They want us to be the best.”

The PLC communication cards, worth $1,000 each, as well as motors and pumps Kronospan donated in 2021 give students the opportunity to troubleshoot in the classroom.

“We want them to know how to fix the equipment without damaging the equipment they have in their labs and without having to take on the expense of purchasing additional equipment,” Lewis said.

Creel said the donations as well as the investment made in the student employees are good for the community, the College and the company.

“We are always asking ourselves what we can do for our community,” he said. “The community is good to us so we want to be good to them. We see our partnership with the FAME programs as an investment in future generations and in our community.”

The FAME students working at Kronospan have the opportunity to work in several different capacities in an effort to identify where they are the most productive.

“They get to see the job and get real-world, hands-on experience,” Lewis said. “We treat them like any other employee. We just get to provide additional support for their education. We get to know their character and their capabilities. After investing two years into their careers, we know exactly what’s the best fit for them.”

For more information about the FAME program, visit

Jerry Creel, training manager at Kronospan; Tim Lewis, maintenance manager at Kronospan; Tarina Vannatta, FAME program instructor; and Alan Smith, dean of Workforce Development

Pictured with a donated PLC communication card are, from left, Jerry Creel, training manager at Kronospan; Tim Lewis, maintenance manager at Kronospan; Tarina Vannatta, FAME program instructor; and Alan Smith, dean of Workforce Development.