Richard (Rick) V. Spitzer
2014 Outstanding Alumni Awards Winner
Richard (Rick) V. Spitzer completed the Machine, Tool & Die program at Southeast Technical (then known as Winona Technical Institute) in 1989, and returned to study Drafting and Design in 1994. Now Director of Application Support at Miller Ingenuity in Winona, he began his career as a machinist making molds and dies in 1988 and has steadily progressed through a number of important roles, including Director of Manufacturing (2001) and Director of Safety and Manufacturing (2005). He was promoted to his current position in 2009, and oversees the development and implementation of new products.
Rick was nominated for the outstanding alumni award by Randy Skarlupka, Miller Ingenuity Vice President of Operations, who says, "Rick is the 'go to' person when something absolutely needs to get done. He always meets new challenges head on. Moreover, he is able to quickly build rapport with his peers and direct reports because of his 'lead by example' philosophy."
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Rick enlisted in the National Guard in 1986, where he advanced through a succession of leadership roles, acting as a Platoon Sergeant for 30 soldiers from 1999-2001 and serving as the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of new recruit preparation for Winona, Rochester and Owatonna units. He retired with 20 years of Honorable Service in 2006.
Rick's service to the community has been exemplary as well. He founded Miller Ingenuity's Highway Cleanup program in 2006. He has served on the school board and volunteered for Winona Area Catholic Schools, including as board Vice-Chair in 2010. Rick has organized and led volunteers for construction, remodeling and repair projects in the Winona area and beyond, including chaperoning thirteen high school students on a volunteer trip to Tennessee to install a new roof on a house in 2013.
Of his experience at Southeast Technical, Rick says, "The Machine, Tool & Die and the Design & Drafting programs at the college were a foundation for me, the basis for creating a career that's propelled me to where I am today. I have been to South Africa, Europe and Brazil - opportunities I might not have had otherwise."
Rick says that Southeast Technical is very important in the Winona community. "Of 50 employees at Miller Ingenuity, 10 have attended Southeast Tech at some point. It's an affordable education that makes an impact, whether in nursing, truck driving or manufacturing. I really believe in technical college programs."