A plaque honoring retiring SouthWestern Association CEO Jeffrey Flora was unveiled Saturday, April 12, 2014 during a dedication ceremony on the OSU Institute of Technology campus.
The plaque, now part of OSUIT’s Walk of Fame, is in recognition and appreciation for Flora’s longstanding commitment to the university’s SouthWestern Association Industrial and Farm Equipment program, which he helped establish on the Okmulgee campus in 2003.
“We’re honoring today the person who really made the SouthWestern Association program a reality here on campus,” said OSUIT President Bill R. Path during the ceremony.
The inscription on the plaque honors Flora’s 32 years of service and his vision and energy for serving association members and their businesses.
“He had the vision of a program that would assist Association members in finding and training skilled technicians to fill the increasing number of vacancies in the equipment industry,” the plaque reads.
Originally the SouthWestern Association Industrial & Farm Equipment Program, OSU Institute of Technology now offers the Western Equipment Dealers Association Technician Training Program after a merger of the SouthWestern Association with a similar association in Canada in September 2014 and formed the new Western Equipment Dealers Association (WEDA).
The SouthWestern Association, a membership made up of equipment dealers from five states including Oklahoma, merged with Canada West Equipment Dealers Association, which serves 400 dealers in four provinces.
Both associations had similar goals and objectives and understood the importance of educating and training the future workforce. The merger strengthens the larger association and provides more services to address the growing needs of today’s dealers.
The program started at the university more than 10 years ago when members of the then SouthWestern Association saw a growing need for more skilled technicians in their dealerships and recognized the opportunity to meet that demand through a degree program at OSUIT.
Since then the program has continued to grow as the demand for service technicians has increased in conjunction with the advancement of equipment and technology in the farm and industrial equipment industry.
The name may have changed, but the focus on providing a quality, hands-on education continues at OSUIT.
Representatives from the SouthWestern Association were on the OSU Institute of Technology campus February 28, 2014 for a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the newly renovated space that houses the university’s Industrial & Farm Equipment Technology program.
The $153,000 renovation has more than doubled the square footage of instructional space for the students pursuing the Associate in Applied Science degree in Diesel and Heavy Equipment. The Association funded the renovation through a capital campaign that enlisted the support of members and industry partners, including equipment manufacturers, who generously contributed to the effort.