Manufacturing a Better Future

Manufacturing a Better Future

A couple of years ago Archie Cleveland, Jr. was busy searching for a better job to help provide for his wife and their newborn son. The job he had involved long hours, six days a week, with no opportunity to advance, and compensation that wasn’t satisfying the needs of his young family. The situation was also complicated by the fact that there were not that many local employment opportunities to begin with, and most of the job listings required additional education or paid even less than the job he already had.

However, searching through the job listings, Cleveland began to notice something. There seemed to be an increasing need for employees in positions related to manufacturing, especially in the area of machining. That’s when this South Carolina native started to look for a way to add to the basic machining experience he had already acquired in his home state as a high school student.

“I was familiar with the technical colleges and schools back home,” Cleveland said. “So it didn’t take long for me to discover the CNC Machining Program at Tulsa Tech.”
Cleveland made an immediate impression with Rick Huddleston, Tech’s instructor and coordinator for the Advanced Precision Machining Program.

“You always hear about the teacher that made a difference in a student’s life,” Huddleston stated. “Well Archie was one of those students that made a difference in mine. He never desired to simply learn the minimum to just pass the program and he never became complacent in what he already knew. He also trusted me to teach the skills he needed to provide better opportunities for both himself and his family.”

While he was a student, Cleveland’s machining class toured one of the McElroy Manufacturing, Inc. (MMI) facilities located in Tulsa. The operation of this independent manufacturing and engineering firm, with an international reputation as a leader in polyethylene fusion and fintube techology, caught Cleveland’s eye.

“Although I was still taking classes, I asked for an interview and got a job working part-time at McElroy,” Cleveland explained. “After I finished the program at Tulsa Tech, I moved to the grind shop and then went on to work on the blade cell for a few months.”

Huddleston is proud that MMI was quick to recognize the value of his former student.
“They made a great hire,” Huddleston said. “Archie challenged me to be as great of an educator as he was a student.”

Unlike his previous employer, MMI has provided Cleveland with an opportunity to advance as a professional. He’s currently a CNC Operator and his responsibilities include controlling not one, but two Haas EC 1600 Horizontal CNC Mills, both of which produce finished, machined pieces similar in size to a large truck tire. And after more than a year at MMI, Cleveland is happy that he’s able to work for the organization with his fellow employees.
“It’s a great shop and I enjoy the people,” Cleveland said. “We work hard, we’re busy, but it feels comfortable and laid back.”

Success stories like Archie Cleveland not only make Tulsa Tech look good, they demonstrate the quality student we strive to deliver to business and industry every day. The rewards and economic impact are then shared by everyone involved.

If you’re looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, award-winning business and industry training, or ready to manufacture your next career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5200 or visit us online at

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