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Operating Engineers 324 mentors, apprentices honored at Workers Gala for excellence in Michigan’s construction industry

Operating Engineers 324 mentors, apprentices honored at Workers Gala for excellence in Michigan’s construction industry

DETROIT – Members of Operating Engineers 324 were honored at the Michigan Workforce Development Institute’s second annual Workers Gala in Detroit for their excellence and leadership in the construction industry. Krystle Schnell, an OE324 instructor in Howell and Grand Rapids, received the Solidarity Award. Kendrick Drummer, Khalil Wright and LaTasha Smith were honored as Apprentices of the Year for 2024. Teresa Glandon-Taylor was also nominated for apprentice of the year.

“We are so proud of Krystle, Kendrick, Khalil, LaTasha and Teresa for continuing to show excellence and leadership in our industry,” OE324 President Ken Dombrow said. “They reflect our core values at Operating Engineers 324 of hard work, teamwork and striving for continuous improvement. Just like their 15,000 brothers and sisters in OE324, they take great pride in what they do every day, and that’s being the best construction professionals at the job site and lifting up their fellow operating engineers.”

“Krystle, Kendrick, Khalil, LaTasha and Teresa are doing great things in the construction sector, thanks to their grit, their dedication and the training they and hundreds of registered apprentices get in our program,” OE324 Labor Management Executive Director Lee Graham said. “Operating Engineers 324’s Department of Labor-recognized registered apprenticeships provide men and women with a solid foundation that prepares them to be the best skilled trades professionals on a project and leaders that our signatory contractors can count on every day.”

In addition to being an instructor, Schnell is also a board director for National Association of Women in Construction. She is a recipient of the NAWIC Founder’s Award in 2023 and is co-chair for the Building Impacts Tradeswomen Summit.

An OE324 member since 2010, Schnell has extensive experience working on projects as both as an apprentice and journeyman. She has built new cooling towers, switch yards, spent fuel storage at nuclear power plants and a new natural gas power plant. She has also spent time on infrastructure projects including road construction, landfill capping, building additions, and substations. In 2015, Schnell was named Apprentice of the Year by both the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee, Inc. (MASCI), and the Associated General Contractors of Michigan (AGC). For the past five years, she has served the organization as an instructor, mentoring the next generation of operating engineers.

Schnell said: “My favorite part about what I do is being able to show my three girls what it really means be a strong independent woman. It’s not always about paving the way and getting there first. It’s about dozing down the doors for those who have challenges in front of them and allowing them to cruise their way right by. By taking the opportunity to lead by example, lifting up those around me, empowering them, and providing resources for them to do more and go further in our organization, I have found something makes me feel even more fulfilled than being on the job running the equipment myself. I have found community and sisterhood with these like-minded women that empowers me to want more for them, every day. I know that if my girls decide to join the trades it will be a different place for them than it was for me, and I have my sisters and allies in OE324 to thank for that.”

The Workers Gala was held in May as a celebration of individuals who excel in the workforce and empower others to grow and prosper in their communities.