CenterLine currently sponsors ten FIRST Robotics Competition teams and two FIRST LEGO League teams in the Windsor-Essex area. CenterLine sponsors these teams monetarily and also offers support for building materials, mentoring, and a location to work for some teams. CenterLine was the reason that team 772 could compete in their 2013 season due to the strikes in their school board.
Even though CenterLine was under major reconstruction and the team had to move around the shop several times during the season, CEO, Michael Beneteau said, “Okay, let’s figure it out,” for the team to compete. Additionally, FRC teams 6544 and 6875 and two sponsored FLLteams currently use the CenterLine facilities for community team workshops and meeting points.
CenterLine is a major supporter of all local FIRST events, from official competitions to team organized events. It is not just part of the company that supports the program but the company as a whole: employees see the value in dedicating time to volunteering at events, mentoring and being on the local event organizing committee. The company gives their employees the flexibility to volunteer at events as paid work days. CenterLine employees have donated thousands of hours committed to inspiring and supporting students.
FIRST alumni are valued at CenterLine. CenterLine has seen the full advantage of hiring FIRST alumni as they have had countless co-op, summer students as employees. In addition, CenterLine has hired several full-time employees that are FIRST alumni and they are some of their most dedicated employees. CenterLine values FIRST students and alumni so much that a couple of years ago during a busy summer, they put out an advertisement to hire FIRST students specifically to fill some summer positions!
Other Support and Shipping!
CenterLine employees have enabled a lot of growth of the program in the Windsor-Essex area through the support of local teams. CenterLine builds official FLL competition tables for teams and competition as well as has an area in one of their four local facilities dedicated to FIRST equipment which is approximately 500 cubic feet. In this area, they store Lego competition tables, Ontario’s off-season competition field during down time, Kickoff totes, and other FIRST-related equipment necessary.
Due to CenterLine’s convenient location along the USA-Canada border, they have committed to importing and arranging all Canadian Kickoff materials to be shipped from their facility in Windsor and then to their desired location in across Canada. In previous years, CenterLine realized there were some issues with shipping Ontario’s competition robots to the World Championships. They took it upon themselves to work with FIRST Headquarters and FIRST Canada to have all Ontario robots shipped to their facility to be arranged for shipping to and from the World Championships to prevent importing issues. They are now FIRST Canada’s go-to for anything that needs to be shipped across the USA-Canada border. CenterLine leverages their partnerships with other companies to get them involved in supporting the program, these are key partners that help them achieve their goal to support FIRST in any way they can.
“Supporting FIRST has become part of the fabric of the company,” said Larry Koscielski, VP of Process and Technology Development at CenterLine and FIRST Robotics Canada Executive Advisory Board (EAB) Member.
With three VP’s of the company involved in mentoring and volunteering with the program it truly shows how important the program is to the company and that they see the value in it. Koscielski, is currently a sponsor and EAB member, as well as the Chair of the Windsor Essex Great Lakes Event and Chair of WEFR, as well as a mentor to team 772 for 14 seasons.
Space for Inspiration
The company has a “FIRST Wall” that is directly outside of the foyer of the headquarters. It is a 6’ x 6’ display that reinforces their commitment to the teams they support, the community that it brings together and FIRST as a whole. In addition, they have recognized the sponsorship of the inaugural Windsor Essex Great Lakes Regional as a major point in the company’s history in their company timeline plaque wall in their Centre of Excellence research facility. FIRST is often mentioned in the company’s Town Hall meetings to discuss upcoming events for volunteer opportunities and as a family event. “The Line”, the company news communication, often has articles that celebrate the success of the teams sponsored by CenterLine and to inform employees on how to get more involved with the program. Employee display boards have continuous updates about upcoming FIRST events and the benefits of the program for the company as well as on a personal employee level. CenterLine also has invited local teams to their own events. During their 60th anniversary celebration Open House, they invited some sponsored teams to come out and display their robots, projects, and to spread the word of the program first hand to employees and their families. CenterLine has created a unique relationship with their sponsored teams that truly stands out. CenterLine also manufactures the Partner Excellence Awards for FIRST Canada and last year they made the Inukshuks for District Volunteer Appreciation Awards out of repurposed steel.
CenterLine truly gets it. They understand how rewarding the FIRST program is to the future of their company and the fact that the students that go through this program are one day going to continue to make companies like CenterLine thrive in their industries. Thank you, CenterLine, for all that you do for FIRST you are truly inspiring the next generation!
Thank you, CenterLine, for all of your incredible support!