The German American Chamber of Commerce Inc. (GACC), Pittsburgh Chapter recently recognized Thomas Van De Bunt for his leadership in establishing a German-style apprenticeship model at Veka Inc. in Fombell, Pa.

Thomas Van De Bunt leads Veka’s U.S. apprenticeship programs.

Rachel Mauer, vice president of the Pittsburgh chapter, presented Van De Bunt with the award.

“Thomas has been with our program since the very beginning,” she said. “An expert and veteran on the German apprenticeship program, Thomas has provided our program with invaluable leadership, working with the curriculum, the companies, the schools and the students. He has an innate ability to analyze, to re-calibrate, to re-adjust, along with his steadfast backing of his employer, Veka Inc., and with his expertise, energyand leadership, our AHK Pittsburgh Chapter Dual Apprenticeship program has had the opportunity to launch and build throughout the region.”

Van De Bunt  completed an apprenticeship program in Germany in the early 1980s before moving to the United States to continue his career with Veka. Today, he is responsible for all Veka  training programs in North America with six full-time trainers at sites in Fombell, Pa., Terrell, Texas, and Reno, Nev.

When asked about the program, Thomas remarked, “It’s a great thing and I love doing it. We have a good training curriculum and that’s what young people want; they have incentive, they want to learn something. They want to be somebody someday and we get them started.”

“A company like Veka can offer the right environment for a program like this, but it takes individual leadership, dedication and passion for this training model to really take off,” said  Veka President Joe Peilert. “Thanks to Thomas’ work, we have a great way to attract young people and offer them a defined career path in modern manufacturing. And, in cooperation with the German American Chamber of Commerce, we offer a blueprint for other businesses in Western Pennsylvania to build their own apprenticeship program. The German-style apprenticeship model provides a great alternative for people who feel college isn’t the right choice for them, but are willing to learn and build a career.”

Veka is currently working with Riverside School District to offer a dual model of schooling and a hands-on formal manufacturing training program.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *