When Andrew Dirienzo graduated from Kishwaukee College with a certificate in Welding Technology, he figured he would find a job as a welder in a local industry. He never imagined that he would land a position that would take him to northern Italy for training. But that is exactly what happened.
Andrew graduated from Sycamore High School in 2011 and enlisted in the Air Force National Guard right out of school. “I signed up on my 18th birthday,” he said. “I was an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan.”
When he returned from deployment in 2014, he signed up for classes at Kish. He took a few General Education courses and realized that he would rather work with his hands. He signed up for a couple of welding classes and found his path. “I really liked that you can take raw material and build something from it,” he explained. “My favorite types of welding are stick and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. We built trailers with [instructor] Steve Durin. Instructor Zach Caccia is really an excellent welder – I was his student assistant in the welding lab.”
Everything was going in a usual direction, until Brett Cole from Cole Pallet in Sycamore called Bernie Pupino, Coordinator of Career Technologies at Kish, with an unusual request: a company in Italy was manufacturing line equipment for Cole and wanted a local rep to install and train the Cole employees on the new line when it was ready to be delivered. Their preference was for a military veteran. Andrew fit the bill, perfectly.
The Corali company makes their home in Bergamo, Italy. The company builds manufacturing lines for industries that glue, stitch or use similar procedures to build their products, industries like Cole Pallet. After accepting the position, Andrew found himself training in northern Italy at Corali’s headquarters. “I actually use all the skills I learned in the military plus the welding,” he explained. “I do pneumatics, electrical, and hydraulics.”
Andrew returned to the Corali plant in Italy with Brett Cole this summer. It gave Cole an opportunity to see the equipment in action and running product. After Cole approved it, Andrew and the Corali team dismantled the line and prepared it to ship to Sycamore where Andrew will spend the next year installing it, calibrating it, and then training employees on running and maintaining it on site at Cole Pallet.
Andrew Dirienzo never expected that his decision to pursue welding at Kishwaukee College would line him up with the kind of job everyone dreams of. “I really thought I would get a local job, doing the same welds every day,” he said. “I never thought I would have a position where I travel to Europe!”
Pictured in front of Corali manufacturing equipment at a Pallet Manufacturing Conference in Germany this summer, is the Corali USA team, L to R: Alain Clicet, Sales; Andrew Dirienzo; Jeff Jenson, Corali USA President; and Rosely Rosa, Corali Parts Manager.