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Klein Tools and SkillsUSA Partner to Develop and Launch a National Program that Celebrates, Promotes, and Supports Young People Starting Their Careers in the Skilled Trades

Followers of our Insights blog know that we are inclined and like to tie in winning athletic teams, and winning athletes, to our posts about tradeshows, events, marketing, and promotions.

For sure it is helpful to study the parallels between championship sports squads and other championship groups.

And among the many topics that Willwork Global Event Services has discussed in this space is the big problem of not enough … not nearly enough … qualified skilled tradespeople available to fill jobs that companies desperately need filled.  

Willwork Global Event Services has reported on and presented in this space solutions to solve the skills gap problem – and we have cited and pointed to examples of programs and policies that are successful in training, educating, and preparing people for careers in the skilled trades.

If you click here, you will be taken an Insights post, published on June 26, 2014, in which we explain and focus on how companies can solve the skilled trades deficit, with some of those solutions found in the way that Willwork grew to a position of industry leadership, and how it continues to operate and build on that leadership.   

Another Insights post, published on September 27, 2017, and accessible by clicking here, highlights the mix of effective and innovative academic, vocational, civic, and private enterprise programs that are developing skilled workers for the hospitality industry.

In today’s post, we herald a program and initiative that takes a page from the theater, pomp, and glam of the institution of major college sports recruiting – specifically when blue-chip high school recruits announce their college choice – to boost and give wholly-deserved attention to high school seniors who after graduation are continuing their career in a skilled trade. 

The program, that initiative, is SkillsUSA National Signing Day, a national event held for the first time on May 8.

SkillsUSA National Signing Day was created by SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit that promotes the skilled and technical trades, and which uses and makes prominent as its motto, “Champions at Work.”   Title sponsor of SkillsUSA National Signing Day is Klein Tools, the preeminent maker of hand tools for the electrical industry, and also a major supplier of tools for the maintenance and construction trades.

Nearly 3,000 students at 300 high schools across the United States took part in SkillsUSA National Signing Day.

SkillsUSA National Signing Day is modeled on the NCAA National Signing Day in which senior high school athletes who are highly recruited by major college sports programs make a commitment to the school they plan to attend by signing a letter of intent.

Many of the signings receive strong media coverage, and involve the blue-chip recruit donning a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the school to which he or she has committed. 

At SkillsUSA National Signing Day, high school seniors who have studied and trained in the skilled trades, sign a certificate declaring what trade they have chosen for a vocation.

And just like their fellow students who are heading off to college and collegiate sports, the students who are heading directly into the workforce and into the skilled trades pull on baseball caps – with these caps bearing the SkillsUSA National Signing Day logo.

(Imged credit: USASkills and Klein Tools)

Throughout the day on May 8, broadcast on the Klein Tools Facebook page were look-ins at SkillsUSA National Signing Day events going on across the United States.

To publicize and build the profile of SkillsUSA National Signing Day, a celebrity athlete was signed to appear and speak at one of the high school signings.

And, indeed, this athlete was just the right fit for the spokesperson job in that, among all his achievements and big moments in sports, he himself signed a letter of intent … to play football … for an NCAA Division I program.

As well, the athlete knows something about the importance of the skilled trades in that his father worked for more 40 years as a union electrician.  

The famous and fab athlete is Jimmy Garappolo, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who is a mega talent on the football field, has matinee idol looks – and is very rich.  If you are a pro football fan you’ve read and heard about the money – and you know that in February of 2018, Mr. Garappolo signed a contract with the 49ers that will pay him $27.5 million annually for five years, with $74.1 million of that guaranteed and … oh yeah … a $35 million signing bonus.

Tony Garappolo, 62, is the father of Jimmy Garappolo.  The elder Garappolo and his wife, Denise, brought up six kids in a suburb of Chicago.  Growing up, Jimmy Garappolo and his brothers sometimes accompanied their dad on his electrician jobs.

In Tony Garappolo’s work as an electrician he used Klein Tool Products.

In fact, that Tony Garappolo had been a career electrician was a primary motivating factor in Klein Tools approaching the business agents of Jimmy Garappolo to pursue a deal with their client to be the featured guest and headliner for SkillsUSA National Signing Day.

And it is also important to note that Jimmy Garappolo has been highly selective and cautious in signing to promote and serve as spokesperson for companies and products and services, and he has passed on many opportunities. Yet the Klein Tools and SkillsUSA National Signing Day initiative and its mission were those that resonated strongly with him, and which he was eager and enthusiastic to get behind.  

To leverage the star power of its spokesperson, and the most relevant career of the spokesperson’s father, SkillsUSA and Klein Tools featured the Garappolos in a live appearance at a SkillsUSA Signing Day event in the heart of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco 49ers fan universe.

The location was Silicon Valley Career Technical Education (SVCTE), a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) high school in San Jose.

SVCTE has an education and training curriculum that prepares students for college and for the skilled trades and other occupations.

While Jimmy Garappolo was the featured speaker, his dad also spoke, and the quarterback explained the influence of his father in his life, emphasizing Tony Garappolo’s work as an electrician is fundamental to and a keystone of that influence.

Both the elder and younger Garappolo mentioned the excitement that Jimmy and entire Garappolo family experienced on National Signing Day when Jimmy signed a letter of intent to play for Eastern Illinois, a mid-major NCAA Division I football program, and one of only three colleges, along with Illinois State and Montana State, to offer him a scholarship.  Yes, with hindsight, it appears a bit remarkable that Jimmy Garappolo didn’t generate more interest from D. 1 football programs.

The seated audience of Silicon Valley Career Technical Education students wore hard hats.  Each had his or her name announced, stood up and – accompanied by the clapping and cheering of Jimmy and Tony Garappolo, SVCTE teachers and administrators, and family and friends –walked up to a table at the front of the room and exchanged the hard hat for a baseball cap, and then sat and signed a letter declaring which skilled trade the student would pursue.

Following is a Jimmy Garappolo comment excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle story about the SVCTE event that was published on May 9:

“This can help set the path earlier in kids’ lives — they want to be in trades and they can get started in high school. It can require a blue-collar mentality, and some people don’t have that — but I’m glad I grew up that way.”

Please click here to be taken to the full San Francisco Chronicle story, “49ers’ Jimmy Garappolo and dad laud trade-bound students,” written by Eric Branch.

Willwork Global Event Services applauds the innovative thinking and teamwork of Klein Tools and SkillsUSA in creating SkillsUSA National Signing Day, an institution that will grow and expand, that will rise in prominence – and will continue to effectively serve the end goal of encouraging young people to pursue careers in the skilled trades, while also boosting the prestige of those careers.

Willwork Global Event Services will continue to do its part as a backer and developer of skilled tradespeople –and we will continue to share here stories about smart people, smart companies, and other smart organizations that are doing the same.

Willwork Global Event Services Delivers an Encore Celebration of the World’s Best Flower Shows

“Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.”

ALAN KAY

Last year, on April 6, we published here a post, “As Spring Continues to Bloom, as Warmer Days Approach, Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services Takes a Look at a Selection of the World’s Best Flower Shows.”

With spring and efflorescence ascendant, with days getting longer and things warming up, and with land and water and sky excited with renewal and birth, we publish another post about the best flower shows on the planet.

Featured here are events not included in last April’s post.

We start out with the Harrogate Spring Flower Show, an exhibition that the North of England Horticultural Society (NEHS), a philanthropic group started in 1911 that promotes agriculture, holds annually in the town of Harrogate in the northeast region of England. 

In its infancy, the NEHS produced yearly flower shows, with the events suspended during the two world wars, and in the periods of austerity and rebuilding that followed the wars.  It was in 1953 that the NEHS first ran the precursor of today’s show, which the society attests is the “biggest exhibition of flower arranging and floristry in Britain.”

The date of the 2019 Harrogate Spring Flower Show is April 25-28.

Yearly, the NEHS also runs the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show.  This year’s fall installment runs September 13-15. 

In the United States, late May through early June is the time of lilacs (Syringa vulgaris).  And during the period of peak bloom of this beautiful and fragrant flower, several lilac festivals take place in the United States and Canada.

Launched in 1949, the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is an annual 10-day event that starts on the second Friday of June and ends on the third Sunday of the month.

Lilacs on Mackinac Island (Image credit: LuAnn Brandon/Midwest Living)

Mackinac Island, 3.8 square miles/9.8 kilometers in size, is located in Michigan waters, in Lake Huron. The island is a popular year-round tourist and vacation destination.

What gave rise to and is fundamental to supporting and maintaining the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is that the island is a microclimate, with this climate friendly and hospitable for the growth of a variety of lilacs.

Holland is a land of flowers and flower events.  And, of course, the preeminent flower of Holland, the flower most associated with the country, is the tulip (Tulipa). 

Please click here to be taken to an article, “History of tulips in Holland,” published at Holland, the official tourist guide website of the country.

In bloom every spring is the Keukenhof, a magnificent park of flower gardens located on the estate of Keukenhof Castle, just outside of Amsterdam.  Kuekenhof Castle was built in 1641. In 1847 the castle’s gardens were redesigned into an English landscape style which has mostly been maintained to the present. 

Tulips at the Kuekenhof (Image credit: Kuekenof)

The Kuekenhof spring gardens originated in 1949 when 20 prominent flower bulb growers  came up with the idea to turn an area of the grounds of Kuekenhof Castle into a spring showcase of flowering bulbs.  Kuekenhof, the spring flower event, debuted in 1950.

This year, Keukenof is open from March 21 through May 19.  During this period, more than seven million bulbs, and a total of 800 varieties of tulips, will flower in the park.

Actually, throughout the spring, the Kuekenhoff serves as a host for more specialized events with their own brand, specific focus, and identity, such as the Tulip Festival Amsterdam .

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival has been held every year since 1994. 

In that this show is held at the Epcot Theme Park|Walt Disney World Resort (Orlando, FL), you know that it is flower and garden event offering many fun and interesting attractions for people of all ages.

Kermit the Frog Topiary and gardens at Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (Image credit: Laughing Place)

For a partial description and introduction of what takes place at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, here is an excerpt from a photo slideshow/story, “The 10 Most Amazing Flower Shows Around the World,” written and produced by Lindsay MacNevin, and published at the travel and tourism website EscapeHere.com:

“This annual show is one that genuinely caters to the entire family and nowhere else in the world offers as much interaction for the little ones. Fanciful topiaries of Disney characters make up the bulk of the exhibits here at Epcot and both parents and kids will delight seeing their favorite character covered in flowers. Experts are on hand to teach parents more about design and send them home with tips and tricks for their own gardens. The themed flower and display gardens are simply beautiful to admire while the kids are busy in the interactive play areas.”

Every two years in the spring, the two-day Battaglia dei Fiori (Flower Battle) takes place in Ventimiglia, a city in northern Italy that is about four miles (seven kilometers) from the Italian/French border. The event started in the early 20th century, and maintains a strong kinship, and emotional and cultural tie ancient times and festivals that celebrated, the rejoiced, in the passing of the cold and dark and the arrival of warm and light.

On the first day, actually night, of the Battaglia dei Fiori, gorgeous and ornately designed floats made almost entirely of flowers, parade through the streets of Ventimiglia.  Following the parade, that night, there is more celebrating, including a fireworks display.

Parade at the 2013 Battaglia dei Fiori in Ventimiglia, Italy (Image credit: Franco Magnetto/Sanremo News)

As for that “battle,” it is one of friendly and literally colorful, and also perfumed, strife held on day two of the festival.  Floats again move through the streets, and people on the floats, and those in bands and folk groups walking behind the floats, engage in throwing flowers at each other, resulting in the air alive with beauty and pleasant fragrance, a combination which transmits and transitions to a carpet of the same.

Willwork hopes you are motivated, at least in some small part, by this post to go out and … yes … smell the roses, and enjoy and find happiness in flowers in many other ways, as well.

Leonardo da Vinci – Among the Most Extraordinary, Curious, and Creative Minds in History – Was a Star in Producing Plays, Pageants, Exhibitions, and Events

(Header photo: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper – a painting which shows the influence of Leonardo’s work in the theater and exhibitions.)

Willwork Global Event Services is an international leader in exhibition services and event project management.

A major component of our business is art and design: art and design in the form of exhibits, structures, props, and interiors we install, maintain, and dismantle; and art and design in the form of multimedia production and storytelling we create and produce.

As well, it is our privilege and good fortune to work, from coast to coast, in buildings and other spaces that are architectural and design masterpieces, many which are historic and iconic.  Day after day, Willwork performs its trade within and amid excellence in structure and design.  

On this blog, from time to time, we herald and exalt the sublime and brilliant, the magnificent, in architecture, design, and engineering, and how it is all tied together and integrated.  We present examples of how the study of, and what is learned in, one discipline can be applied to and improve another discipline.

Examples of this heralding and exalting published here include the post about the history of the arch (January 26, 2018) – and the post, published on December 7, 2016, about the World’s Columbian Exposition, also called the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

On April 15, 2016, we celebrated in this space the 664th birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, who is, just maybe, the most creative and intellectually curious person in history, and also one of its most sensitive and observant. Please click here to be taken the post. 

Leonardo fully and completely exemplified and demonstrated the life of the polymath, accomplished in, and making great and important and valuable contributions to, the study of nature, engineering, architecture, study of anatomy, sculpture, painting, mechanics, weaponry … and much more.

Leonardo da Vinci achieved mightily, and in epic dimension, in the pursuit of learning … of breadth and depth of disciplines and subjects studied, and ability to amalgamate what he learned and how he saw and envisioned various subjects and disciplines to create, to invent, beauty and efficiencies and new forms of art.  His mind was always imagining and fantasizing.

In the Leonardo da Vinci birthday post, we suggested and put forward for consideration just how magnificent would Leonardo have been as a designer of tradeshow exhibits.  

Yes … for sure … exhibits that Leonardo designed would have incorporated his vast intellectual library, all his areas of study and interest and invention, and applied the knowledge and inspiration to design and create remarkable, stunning show exhibits.

May 2 of this year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo. In commemoration, events are being held across Europe. Clicking here takes you to a story, “Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo: The death of the Italian Renaissance master is being marked by exhibitions and tours in 2019.,” by Nora Walsh, published in the New York Times on February 12.      

Now, while Leonardo da Vinci did not design tradeshow exhibits, he most certainly planned and produced exhibitions, theatrical performances, and plays … and designed and invented stage props and entire stage sets that drew immense awe and admiration for their beauty and majesty, and also for the mechanics and movement that Leonardo engineered into the props and sets.

Leonardo planned and directed theatrical scenes and the movement of actors.

Show business started for Leonardo in 1482, when he was 30 years old and in the service of the court of Ludivico Sforza, the Duke of Milan.  Leonardo had just arrived at the court after he, in search of a commission and income, pitched Duke Sforza on his ability to engineer buildings, bridges, waterways, and machines of war.

It was curious that da Vinci emphasized to the duke his engineering skills, for while he was a talented carpenter, he had also shown exceptional abilities in painting, sculpture, metalwork, and crafting of leather.

That the duke hired Leonardo was almost certainly owed in major part to the strong recommendation of Lorenzo de’ Medici , the de facto ruler of Milan and a powerful and wealthy sponsor of artists and the arts. 

Duke Sforza was not envisioning putting Leonardo da Vinci to work, at least not right away or primarily, as an engineer.

He planned to employ Leonardo talents and energies in the theater and dramatic arts.

Duke Sforza assigned Leonarda da Vinci a grand title, one that history would only make more fitting: The Arbiter of all Questions Relating to Beauty and Elegance, Especially in Pageantry.

Leonardo’s “initial role at the court was not building weapons but conjuring up festivals and pageants,” Walter Isaacson explained his brilliant biography Leonardo da Vinci  (Simon & Schuster, 2018).

Mr. Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci is, as explained at the Simon & Schuster website, “Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work …. “

In his book, Mr. Isaacson gives considerable attention to Leonardo’s work with festivals and the dramatic arts.  This was work that Leonardo enjoyed and felt fulfilling, and also work that kept his patrons, Ludivico Sforza and Lorenzo de’ Medici, happy.

Actually, it is arguable that Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci revealed more and made more known about Leonardo’s work in and contributions to show business than has any single biographical treatment of the artist-inventor to date.

When talking about Leonardo’s development of dramatic special effects, Walter Isaacson invokes the images of the extravaganzas of light and sound and movement of Madonna and Lady Gaga performances.

On January 25, 2018, first broadcast was Leonardo da Vinci: Theater impresario, an episode of the Public Radio International (PRI) podcast series Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen.

In the podcast, Mr. Anderson talks with Walter Isaacson about Leonardo’s work in the theater, about his theater productions and creations, about what Mr. Anderson calls the “madcap show business part of da Vinci’s multifaceted genius life,” and how it influenced and improved his contributions in other disciplines.

“Kind of a day job for the painter of The Last Supper,” is how Mr. Anderson … mirthfully … describes Leonardo da Vinci’s work in the theater.  And of the link between that work and The Last Supper, Mr. Anderson then explains that “… it turns out that if Leonardo had never created those spectacles, the single most arresting visual aspect of that famous painting, the way that Jesus and his disciples are all one side of the table facing out, wouldn’t have been there.”

Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch of a revolving stage

In the podcast, Mr. Isaacson says that The Last Supper is “done as a theatrical stage set.  It’s almost like, okay, everybody get on this side of the table if you want to be in the picture.  Well, the place you would do that is on a stage, where you’d tilt the table, and it’s angled.”  

Leonardo da Vinci and show business and events and spectacles paid the bills early on. 

Before da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, his Vitruvian Man and Aerial Screw, his anatomical studies and drawings and revolving bridge, his influence was found and manifest in the theater.

 “You didn’t get paid to invent flying machines, you got paid to make props for the stage,” said Mr. Isaacson.  “It wasn’t just he did it for the money. He loved the theater and you just see all these drawings in his notebooks.  One of the first, thee first drawing, I think, Leonardo does is a silverpoint of … beautiful ornate helmets and costumes.  And then you realize, well that was done for a pageant for the visit of an important duke.”

Leonardo employed his genius and eye for design in creating costumes, and, also, along with his genius for engineering and mechanics, in the designing of stage props and sets.

Among Leonardo’s theatrical work at the court of Ludivico Sforza was directing a play La Festa del Paradiso (Feast of Paradise).  For this production, as Walter Isaacson explained, Leonardo built machines and devices that had “people coming up from Hades, and flying down” and the “earth opening up.”

“He loved having things like a stage that was two hemispheres, and it would turn around mechanically in the middle of the performance.”

In discussing Leonardo da Vinci’s work in show business, Mr. Isaacson corrects a long-held misconception.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Aerial Screw

“That helicopter; that famous drawing he has, it looks like an aerial screw, and everyone says it’s the first helicopter. What surprised me is when I looked in the notebooks, it was part of the props to bring angels down from the rafters in a play.”

Perhaps later in life, Leonardo may have considered how that aerial screw could be adapted and fashioned to fly. Actually, we are sure of it.

This is what Leonardo da Vinci did: he was multidisciplinary and multi-genius.

It must have been truly awe-inspiring and a privilege to witness a dramatic performance that Leonardo da Vinci helped create.  

Willwork Global Event Services hopes that the study, inquiry, and interest will grow in the ways that Leonardo da Vinci brought his genius to the performing arts – and … yes … to the business of exhibitions and events.