Governor helps cut ribbon at Sapience
By NIKKI PATRICK The Morning Sun
Posted Nov 22, 2011
PITTSBURG — Southeast Kansas is now a player on the international business stage, and Gov. Sam Brownback was in Pittsburg Monday to celebrate the occasion.
He came from Topeka for the official ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the Sapience Corporation at 428 W. Fourth.
The firm is the official North American distributor for electronic education equipment created by ED Co., Ltd., a South Korea-based company. Dr. Yong-Hoo Park, company president, joined Brownback in the ribbon cutting.
“I think this represents the cutting edge of what can be done,” the governor said. “Because of this partnership, we can go to other South Korean companies and say, we have one of your major companies here in Kansas, why don’t you come?”
Before the ceremony, he was given a look at some of the ED training devices, including trainers in the areas of robotics, automation, and pneumatics, all intended primarily for post-secondary technical education.
“Depending on the curriculum, students will be able to put together a pneumatics system,” Holloman explained to the governor. “In other systems you can watch the program, but with this, students will be able to make their own circuits.”
He noted that some trainers have several systems together.
“Not only do students need to learn to operate a system, they need to know how the systems work together,” Holloman said.
Clayton Tatro, Fort Scott Community College president, said that hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics trainers will be utilized in FSCC technical programs, including those at the Harley Davidson and John Deere facilities in Pittsburg.
“Work force development is something we do, and do well,” Tatro said.
“Pittsburg has a nice node of technology training education here,” Brownback said. “We have a great asset base here with a great work ethic and good infrastructure.”
Partnering advanced technology education with those students eager to learn and work should be a powerful incentive to manufacturers to locate in Kansas.
“It’s jobs, high technology manufacturing,” Brownback said. “I think a lot of manufacturing jobs are coming home. This is a humble beginning, but my own political career had a humble beginning in our basement with our children running around.”
Holloman sees even more potential for ED products, such as some of its intelligent robots.
“We’ve been discussing the ability to use robots with children with autism,” he said. “They sometimes don’t relate well to other human beings but work well with computers, and ED’s ARO concierge robot might be a step between a human and a computer. We’ve spoken about developing a curriculum and doing some research with a local quality university.”
State Rep. Terry Calloway also believes this partnership with a South Korean company will benefit southeast Kansas and the entire state. He’s also pleased with the human connection forged with Dr. Park.
“I heard that he is a Methodist, and I mentioned that the First United Methodist Church has Korean services,” Calloway said. “Dr. Park was able to go to church there Sunday, and they had prepared a Korean Thanksgiving dinner.”
“It was just amazing that Dr. Park was able to do something like that in Pittsburg,” Holloman said.
The Sapience president said he was deeply honored that Dr. Park had chosen to travel 7,000 miles from Korea to Pittsburg for the occasion, and praised Brownback as a great governor who has done much to help businesses such as Sapience grow.
This may be a humble beginning, but Holloman said he is inspired by other local companies that started small and are now hugely successful.
“Here in Pittsburg we have the largest shortline railroad in the country (Watco) and the largest Pizza Hut franchise,” he said. “That gives me hope.”