PITTSBURG, Kan. — Armed with a degree from Pittsburg State University’s Wood Product Manufacturing program, Bob Holloway took a leap of faith in 2010 and started his own business in a small town that doesn’t see many visitors, so he and his business partner, also a Pitt State graduate, were thrilled to open the door to Pitt State President Dan Shipp on Wednesday.
Shipp made the company, Advantage Architectural Woodwork, a stop on his “Dan Bikes Kansas” tour — a 12-day, 800-mile trip across the state to raise $8 million in student scholarships and connect with alumni and constituents.
At press time, the initiative had raised more than $7.4 million in pledges.
“I’m really excited to have someone from Pittsburg State here to visit,” Holloway said. “Tomorrow, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall is coming for a tour. We’re doing big things — but we’re a bit disadvantaged being this far out in western Kansas. We like any chance we get to show off what we’re doing.”
What he’s doing, with the help of fellow Gorilla Kyle MacMillan and other employees, is to manufacture high performance European windows from wood.
Colby, Kansas, population 5,544, in the far northwest corner of Kansas 55 miles from the Colorado line.
“These windows are a big deal,” Holloway said. “We're the only company making high performance windows from wood in this country.”
They supply those windows — and doors — to construction projects across the country and in Canada.
Holloway and MacMillan met in the College of Technology at Pitt State.
“There’s a couple of alumni out here giving it everything we’ve got, and we’re very proud to have graduated from Pitt State,” MacMillan said. “It's really meaningful for us to have him [Dan] come this far out to see us. We’re proud to show him what we’re doing out here.”
They could use more graduates from the Wood Product Manufacturing program, they said.
The company also caught the eye of Shipp for another reason: it uses sustainable strategies like a biomass boiler that heats the shop through the floor using sawdust and wood waste, or, if that’s unavailable, corn, wheat, and milo.
“No more carbon fumes from oil or gas heaters,” Holloway explained.
On Thursday, Shipp headed to Goodland for a gathering with alumni and constituents at Shiraz Restaurant.
Today, Shipp’s trip will conclude at the Colorado state line, where he’ll be joined by his wife, Vanessa, and their three sons.
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