Southeast Technical is pleased to announce the recipients of the college’s 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award, Kip Earney for the Red Wing campus and Jerry Kottschade for the Winona campus. The Outstanding Alumnus Award honors alumni who have reached significant achievements in their careers or made significant contributions to their communities and Southeast Technical.
Kip Earney, Red Wing Outstanding Alumnus
Nominated by Business Relations Manager Katie Hardyman, Christopher (Kip) Earney has made his footprint in Red Wing not only as a small business owner, but also as a generous community volunteer and donor.
After a sports injury derailed his plans to attend a four-year college, Kip, a Bay City native, attended Inver Hills Community College, but transferred to Southeast Technical to be closer to his future wife Cathy. At Southeast Technical, Kip studied small business and retail management in hopes of someday owning a small business. “My instructors were great. They were sales people and business people and the courses were streamlined, covering all of the fundamentals I needed to pursue business ownership,” Kip says.
Upon graduating in 1986, Kip found his small business opportunity. His wife’s parents purchased West End Liquor & Fine Cigars in Red Wing and were busy trying to balance business ownership with their family farm. With a business plan in hand crafted during his time at Southeast Technical, Kip took half-ownership of the liquor store. When his in-laws retired in 2000, Kip purchased their share.
Besides being known for maintaining an excellent level of customer service at West End Liquor & Fine Cigars, Kip has played a large role in supporting local charities and organizations, including the Red Wing Area Food Shelf, Goodhue County Christmas Project, Toys for Tots, Women in Business, youth baseball and basketball, and Red Wing Hospice. For nominator Katie Hardyman, Kip’s goodwill has not gone unnoticed. “I chose Kip because he’s a great example of the success a Southeast Tech graduate can have, and because he chooses to give back to the community and the college in so many ways through his volunteerism.”
Jerry Kottschade, Winona Outstanding Alumnus
Nominated by Auto Body instructor Tom Brandt, Jerry Kottschade has built a career and business using the foundational skills he learned at Southeast Technical. “The education gave me all the basics I wanted. It was a good experience for me,” Kottschade, a Class of ’68 graduate, says.
After graduating from Southeast Technical’s Auto Body program, Jerry worked at Ben’s Beeline Auto collision shop in Mankato while earning a degree in Business Administration from Mankato State University. Pairing his technical skills with strong business acumen, Jerry opened Jerry’s Body Shop, Inc., in 1971 in Mankato with his wife Geralynn (Geri). Through the years, Jerry’s Body Shop has grown to support a crew of 23 technicians and office staff at a 19,000 square foot facility constructed in 1987.
In addition to serving in leadership roles for several automotive associations, Jerry was instrumental in shaping Southeast Technical’s Auto Body program as it is known today. As a member of a five-year program evaluation team in 1986, Jerry reviewed the college’s program and helped make significant steps toward restructuring it to align with employer and industry expectations, spending his own time contacting business connections and helping secure needed equipment to update the college’s shop. Jerry even invited a group of Auto Body advisory committee members and school administrators to visit his shop in Mankato, a tour which was the inspiration for upgrades that took place on the Winona campus in 1988.
Jerry has high regard for Southeast Technical’s Auto Body program and has hired graduates over the years, some staying long term. His wife Geri has also been supportive of the program and helped one of the first female students in the program secure an industry scholarship.