Rockdale ‘digs’ equipment school

ATS on verge of committing to local campus; executives meet here
By MIKE BROWN Reporter Editor

Dan Lorenz (L), ATS chief operating officer, and company president Steve Hazelbaker liked what they heard in meeting with community leaders. Dan Lorenz (L), ATS chief operating officer, and company president Steve Hazelbaker liked what they heard in meeting with community leaders. Rockdale is looking to get an economic shot in the arm from a school that wants to teach people how to “play in the dirt.”

Associated Training Services (ATS), the largest heavy equipment training provider in the United States, is apparently on the verge of locating a facility in the Rockdale area.

Four ATS executives were in town last Wednesday for an informational meeting with community leaders and it appears the company is only awaiting a word from its founding family to proceed.

“The word we get is that the executives who were here will meet with John Klabacka, son of the founder,” Cindy Jerman, who coordinated the meeting said.

“We should get the word this week on the results of that meeting,” she said. “Everyone is proceeding on the assump- tion it’s going to happen.”

Jerman is workforce development coordinator for the Workforce Solutions of Central Texas.


Attending last week’s meeting were the following ATS executives:

• Dan Lorenz, chief executive officer.

• Steve Hazelbaker, president.

• Steve Farr, regional agency director.

• Rob Schackart, southwest regional director.

The ATS executives were seeking information about the Rockdale area, specifically the market for potential students wanting to learn the heavy equipment business, the continued economic viability of the area and the strength of a working partnership with Workforce Solutions.

Dr. Howell Wright, Rockdale ISD superintendent, pledged that local schools would work with the firm and pointed out as much as 60 percent of RHS graduates head directly into the work force.


Jerry Haisler Director of Workforce Solution Centers, told the ATS delegation the Central Texas area continues to show strong potential growth, despite the recent Alcoa shutdown.

“You’ve got Fort Hood just up the road and it’s not going anywhere,” he said. “I see the region growing tremendously in the next 5, 10, 20 years.”

Haisler pledged Workforce Solutions support in working with ATS to place graduates of its training.

“We’re very good planners,” he said. “We go after every government grant and everyone (on our staff) is a high performer.”

Permanence was high on the list of the ATS execs.

“If we come in, we want this to be permanent, not a temporary thing,” Hazelbaker said. “We (the local Workforce Solutions office) will have a presence here for a long time,” Haisler said. “We’re not going to fall off the earth after a year and a half.”


ATS currently operates nine facilities throughout the United States including one in Wills Point in the DFW Metroplex.

Location of a possible Rockdale school has already paid off in one aspect.

Farr told the group he had attempted to forge a relationship between ATS and the San Antonio office of Workforce Solutions.

“They’d just tell me Will’s Point (the only Texas ATS school) is too far,” Farr said. “Now with Rockdale (being planned) they’ll talk to me.”


In 1959, Robert Klabacka started the National Institute for Concrete Construction.

Since that time Klabacka’s six sons have carried on the family tradition in adult vocational education.

Each ATS location is owned and/or operated independently.

ATS offers training in backhoe, wheel loader, dump truck, scraper, bulldozer, compactor, hydraulic excavator, motor grader, cranes and boom trucks.

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