As a young boy, Tim Langness knew he wanted to be a carpenter. He began working for his dad’s business in the sixth grade, and continued his on-the-job training through high school. “Because I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I didn’t have any goals or aspirations to go to college,” explained Tim. “By the time I graduated from high school, I was well ahead of my class in terms of job experience. But I didn’t do well in school.”
In high school, Tim participated in Junior Achievement’s Company Program, an after school program where students create, market and operate their own company. Under the mentorship of volunteers from Andersen Corporation, students created a business plan, elected representatives, sold stock, created and manufactured a product, and sold it with the goal of making a profit. “Our group created several products, but the one I remember best was a wind winder,” said Tim. “We made them in the carpenter shop at school and sold them door-to-door in our community.”
In order to raise the capital necessary to manufacture their product, Tim’s group sold stock certificates for one dollar. “I sold those certificates to everyone I knew – friends, family, teachers, you name it,” Tim laughs. “We were able to return 20 cents on the dollar dividend to our shareholders. We did pretty good!”
Tim’s success qualified him to participate in a statewide Junior Achievement competition, where he won an award. “My mom built a shrine around my certificate,” he recalls.
Through the JA Company Program, Tim’s mentors encouraged him to cultivate his strengths and skills in construction. “Somehow those volunteers were able to capture my attention better than my teachers had ever done. They applied a program that made sense, made me realize that this is something practical that I needed to know. They basically taught me what I needed to know to succeed in life.”
Tim still remembers the names of his Andersen Corporation mentors. “I never really forgot them,” Tim recalls. “When I graduated, I considered them my friends.” Andersen Corporation has an important presence in the Stillwater area. Many company employees live in Tim’s community. “Years later, I would bump into [my mentors] on the street and they still remembered me.”
After graduating from StillwaterHigh School in 1986, Tim worked construction for several years. He started working at Andersen Corporation in 1994. A few of his mentors still worked at the company, and they continue to stay in touch even to this day.
Tim credits Junior Achievement with his success. The encouragement of his mentors inspired him to follow his strengths and pursue a career. He now gives back to Junior Achievement by volunteering in the classroom. This spring will mark his 17th year as a JA volunteer.
When Tim first started at Andersen Corporation, the company provided a small number of volunteers to teach Junior Achievement in local classrooms. Knowing the impact that JA can have on students, Tim committed his time and energy to recruiting more of his colleagues to volunteer. Today, more than 65 Andersen employees volunteer at area schools. “We’ve lost only a few volunteers over the years,” explained Tim. “Most of them come back year after year to volunteer. You’re teaching students something that they’ll always use. It’s inspiring to see the light bulb come on.”
Tim’s next hope is to create a partnership between Andersen Corporation and Stillwater High School (his alma mater) to bring back the JA Company Program. He wants other students to be able to benefit from this program as he did. “Many classroom subjects are directed towards things that the students may or may not ever need to apply in their daily life. But JA teaches students common sense and daily life situations that, no matter what they do or who they are, they will be able to use it to their advantage.”