Why We Champion Education at A M King
Obtaining a degree was always a priority to me. Timing was the hard part. My children are college graduates, and I wanted the same for myself. I chose Johnson C. Smith University’s Metropolitan College, an undergraduate degree program for adults and non-traditional students. From 2016 to 2020, I worked full time in commercial property management, held a part-time job in retail, and attended school in the evenings. Then I came across a position for an Operations Administrative Assistant at A M King and I began a journey that stretched my perception of what education was all about.
The company’s name sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t remember why until I saw Brian King’s name. We had worked for the same construction management company years prior and when I continued to investigate, I noticed a couple other people employed at A M King whom I had enjoyed meeting while working in that field. I knew after graduation, I wanted to pursue a career that would be a good fit for my goals. I got the job with A M King, which not only provided me with stability and opportunity to grow, but also support to successfully complete requirements for my college degree.
A Multidimensional Experience
After starting with A M King in 2021, I discovered that company leadership fully supports all efforts dedicated to ongoing education and training for employees. The company collects and tracks hours earned towards individual training and community involvement. This impressed me. Although I don’t work on a jobsite, I became more interested in our projects and found myself studying cold storage, distribution and the food industry from our multiple platforms— operations meetings, company newsletters, podcasts, blogs, videos, training calls, magazines and so much more. The company and its culture sparked interest I wasn’t aware that I had before.
When I think of education now, I realize that the word “education” holds so much beauty and complexity. In the obvious sense, it’s about schooling. In a broader sense, it’s about expanding your mind and your heart. A M King supports this multidimensional aspect of education in two ways: by funding and providing on-going training and education opportunities for its employees; and by supporting education initiatives in our communities.
An Inside Look at Education
One area that I’ve really focused on at A M King is organizing ongoing, internal training programs. I assist in arranging monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions led by guest experts on topics such as cold storage doors or industrial refrigeration. I also coordinate all safety and OSHA training with a virtual option for those who need it.
For the individual, A M King offers a Personal Growth Benefit (PGB) with three plans to meet the educational need and interest of the employee. PGB Option One affords an annual stipend of $500 to be used for training and education for a personal interest, such as a course at a community college or technical school. PGB Option Two is for future educational needs of the employee’s children or grandchildren. This benefit comes with a matching payment made to a 529 Qualified Tuition Plan. Lastly, there is an Option Three, a $250 stipend for the employee to use towards a fitness center membership. I recently took advantage of this generous offer for my gym membership.
Supporting Community Education
Another type of non-traditional education at A M King takes place through the community partnerships our company has with several organizations. As the summer days wind down each year, our efforts are focused on assisting students and teachers as they head back to school. For five years, A M King has supported Starmount Academy of Excellence—a Pre-K through fifth grade Title 1 public school where nearly all the 420 students participate in free or reduced lunch programs. Forty-five percent of the students are English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
Each year, our “Fill the Truck” project provides both essential supplies and uniforms to each student at the school’s open house. The message I hear from A M King’s leadership is clear: that our company is enthusiastic about making sure every family within this school community can fully participate in the education process without worry over whether they can afford basic school supplies such as pencils, papers and scissors.
Last year, our call to action related to the development of two labs that aim to guide students toward fundamentals of sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship. A M King volunteers provided select materials for and assisted with construction of components for a MakerLab and a NatureLab program. The MakerLAB includes workshop-oriented Gladiator cabinets and tables, four 3D Printers, Lego Competition Robotics Kits, Hummingbird animatronics creation kits and Dremel tools. The NatureLAB includes 14 elevated gardening beds, workbenches, picnic tables, wheelbarrows, hoses, gardening tools, seeds and soil.
Starmount Academy asked for A M King’s assistance with these focus areas, in part, in hopes of attracting a high level of parental involvement– which is key to student success. ‘Fill the Truck’ at Starmount is a continuation of A M King’s efforts to serve both the children and the education needs in our communities.
Coming Full Circle
A M King team members also give back to universities where they studied. They forge strong relationships with recruiting school partners, which include Clemson University, Purdue University, UNC Charlotte, Western Carolina University and The Citadel. Our experts regularly participate in university career fairs; offer internships to architecture, construction management and marketing students; contribute to campus fundraising events; serve on advisory boards; sponsor collegiate sporting events and even prepare projects for student curriculum.
Twice last year, A M King provided the project for the Design-Build portion of The Associated Schools of Construction’s (ASC) five-part, Integrated Project (IP) Delivery competition. In both the spring and the fall, teams from several schools participated, including Auburn University, Clemson University, Georgia Tech, University of Florida, Kennesaw State and Seminole State. The competing student teams took on the pseudo role of Design-Builder in constructing a new facility for two A M King clients, TrueCore, and GAB Operations, LLC, respectively. The winners were selected by A M King based on detailed criteria sent to each group.
Last November, at the conclusion of the competition, A M King Vice President Dan Crist explained, “A M King is committed to supporting and partnering with select universities in furthering design and construction education. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the ASC sponsors, faculty and students.”
Last month I gave a lecture about education to the Women Executives (WE) of Charlotte’s. 2022-2023 WINGS scholarship recipients. I wanted to pass the torch to the next group of scholars who might be navigating a journey similar to mine. I told them It’s not just about reaching goals or earning degrees—although I am so proud of the Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration I earned this past May. What’s important is how we use our wins to make a difference in the lives of others, in our communities and at the companies where we work. I’m doing my part through continued involvement with WE, volunteer work with multiple organizations, and with help from my colleagues at A M King.
Our goal is to be known as the leading integrated Design-Build firm serving the niche markets of food processing, food distribution and industrial manufacturing. We also want to consistently educate our employees, keep a safe work environment, and leave a lasting impression of our generosity in our community. I am now part of a diverse, collective team that will contribute to this company’s success. I will share my experiences, time and energy with those who may benefit from it. That’s education coming full circle.