Superintendents tour Reach Road laboratory

Local school district superintendents toured Seewald Laboratories Inc, 2829 Reach Road, Wednesday as they continue to collaborate with local businesses to learn what skills are needed by their students to gain employment after graduation.

Superintendents spoke with Seewald officials and toured the facility, which is an environmental testing laboratory, to not only learn about the business but to see what they look for when hiring a new employee. The company performs tests on a variety of samples, including drinking water, hazardous waste and dairy products.

“We want to listen,” explained Michael Pawlik, East Lycoming School District superintendent. “We want to hear from them (employers) what they need.”

Ray Martano, laboratory director, explained during a discussion with superintendents that although education is important to their facility, he also looks for individuals who are motivated and driven.

Martano noted that technicians need a scientific background but he wants people who are “hungry” in his company. He added that it isn’t just a job for his employees, but a passion.

“It’s not just a paycheck,” Martano said. “It is a paycheck but it should be a little bit secondary.”

During a tour of the facility, Martano spoke on the need of employees to be responsible. He explained that in order to keep the sample pure, work areas must remain clean and sanitary, which is the responsibility of the employees.

Although field collectors, who go out into a variety of environments to collect samples, do not need the amount of education as lab technicians, Martano stated they also need to be reliable and responsible to make sure the sample isn’t contaminated.

Martano explained that there is a strict documentation process that each sample goes through when being passed from individual to individual to make sure there is an account on where it has been and who has handled it.

Jason Fink, executive vice president of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber sets up the tours with area businesses for superintendents each month throughout the school year.

He said it gives them an idea of the local industries while allowing them to learn how to improve the employability of their students.

“It also gives me and the other superintendents a real barometer of what employers are looking for,” explained Robert Grantier, Loyalsock Township School District superintendent.

Dr. Portia Brandt, Muncy School District superintendent, said that it allows superintendents to see what opportunities there are for their students after high school. Pawlik added that he always wants to know where a company sees itself five years into the future as that’s when their students will be entering the workforce.