CCCC machining graduate creates successful business
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Hunter Roberts, a Central Carolina Community College graduate, is owner and president of Roberts Precision ... (more)
SANFORD - If you ask his former instructor, Hunter Roberts always had what it takes to create a successful business. He's a smart guy who can wrap his mind around a problem and come up with a good solution. He's someone who works hard and has the drive to succeed.
Mention this to Roberts and he gets a little uncomfortable. He'd rather give credit to the example his father set as owner of a successful business providing sales and service for ATMs.
And to the education he received at Central Carolina Community College.
"It was a really good atmosphere," says Roberts, thinking back to his time at the college, where he earned the associate degree in machining. "Everybody was nice. Everybody was pleasant. And they point you in the right direction. Maybe it's the atmosphere that made the whole experience so enjoyable for me."
The combination of someone looking for an opportunity and a community college ready to provide the essential tools for success gave Roberts what he needed to build his business -- and a good life.
Designing His Future
When he arrived on CCCC's Lee Main Campus about eight years ago, Roberts was just 21 years old and searching for his place in the world. He actually began at another college in mechanical engineering, but quickly decided he wanted to spend his career doing something more "hands on." Industrial design was interesting, he says, and it remains a rewarding part of his work even now. But what he didn't want to do was push through the creative process to devise intricate plans only to hand them off to someone else.
Roberts wanted to build things.
Now, he does a little bit of everything as owner and president of Roberts Precision Machining Inc., a full-service machining company located in Cary. He does milling, turning and computer-controlled machining. He designs prototypes and manufactures parts.
And what he builds finds its way into all kinds of industries. Because he's located just outside the Research Triangle Park, most are delivered to nearby electronics or pharmaceutical plants, but that's not all he does. Roberts and his team have even created racing components for late-model and modified cars competing every weekend on local short tracks.
When he graduated from CCCC, Roberts began by working for other shops, and says the technical skills he learned in college helped him make an easy transition and begin a successful career. Then he started thinking about the future. "I asked myself," he says, "if you can accomplish this for someone else, why not do it for yourself?"
Tools For Success
There's no doubt that Roberts brought a lot to the classroom. Machining instructor Glenn Shearin says his former student was always analytical and good with people -- confident, but not arrogant, a delicate balance that helps him work with corporate executives who sometimes come to Roberts still grappling with what they really need.
On the other hand, a lot of what makes Roberts so effective are skills taught in CCCC's program in Computer-Integrated Machining with an emphasis in Tool, Die and Mold Making.
Students enroll every semester to tap into a manufacturing industry where skilled craftsmen are still in high demand and tend to advance quickly in their careers. Shearin says CCCC graduates usually have a job nailed down even before they leave the college and frequently earn between $40,000 and $45,000 a year within five years of graduating with the two-year associate degree.
Shearin has seen his students take their skills into many different directions. He says recent graduates have pursued careers as machinists, though he recalls others who have found their niche elsewhere in the business as mold designers or die builders. Others have moved into sales and a good number have gone on to complete a four-year degree and enter upper levels of management.
Do many end up owning a business? Not so quickly, Shearin says. But those who want to take on the challenge, students like Roberts, will find their path a lot easier because of what they learn in the classroom and on the college's state-of-the-art shop floor.
"The strongest asset we provide students is a skill set you learn in the program that can be used in so many different fields," Shearin explains. "The way the job market is today, you may have to transition into different areas, and the skills you learn here let you make that transition.
"Owning a business and working with clients, as Hunter does so well, isn't something you can accomplish if you don't have the tools."
Central Carolina Community College offers a two-year associate degree in Computer-Integrated Machining with an emphasis in Tool, Die and Mold Making, along with diploma and certificate programs, at its Harnett Main Campus in Lillington and Lee Main Campus in Sanford. Details are available at www.cccc.edu/curriculum/
majors/machining/ and enrollment for the fall semester is currently open through Aug. 15.
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