Spotlight – February Edition


Mike Zaborowski is a Mechanical Engineer at Realityworks. He grew up in Owen, WI; the youngest child of 4. He and his wife moved to Eau Claire in 1988 when their daughter was born and fell in love with the area. Mike was working at The Hobby Master and made a lot of great friends he still has today.

At Realityworks, Mike’s responsibility is for the mechanical aspects of the products that are developed, whether they are designed in-house or not. Sometimes he gets the chance to brainstorm new designs too, which he really enjoys.

Designing the painting processes for the baby product has been one of Mike’s proudest moments so far at Realityworks.

“It was a huge challenge due to shape of the heads, as well as understanding adhesion and overcoming opinions on looks,” he reflected.

Mike’s favorite part about working for Realityworks is the empowerment the company provides.

“They don’t just make you feel like a member of the team, but give you the support that makes you know you ARE a member of the team,” Mike said. “I also really enjoy seeing products start and end. From concept to shipping and everything in between.”

Growing up, Mike said he always wanted to be an Engineer, just not the kind you might think.

“Pete McMillan was our school guidance counselor,” said Mike. “With a name like Zaborowski we spend a ton of time last in line. Only Tico Zukouski was behind me. I sat down in front of Pete and he said, “OK Mike, what do you want to do when you get out of school?” I said that I want to be an Engineer. He said, “That’s great, mechanical or electrical?” I looked at him somewhat dumbfounded and said, “NO, I want to drive a train!” He said, “NEXT!””

From vacations to his spare time, Mike’s hobbies impact his life outside of work.

“To sum it up, my hobbies revolve around cars, planes, helicopters, boats and rockets,” said Mike. “I have a level 2 certification for Model rocketry and have flown rockets to a mile high and 500MPH. I also have a few rocket designs on the market though Estes products. When people think of model rockets, I do that too, BUT… on a MUCH larger scale!”

“The IRCHA Jamboree was my favorite vacation,” said Mike. “It’s the world’s largest RC Helicopter event and lasts 5 days. Great time with my kind of people. I look forward to it each year.”

Spotlight – January Edition

Brad Berg has been the Shipping Coordinator at Realityworks for 12 years. Though Brad was born in the area, he grew up in Osceola, returning to the Eau Claire area in 2000. He says that being able to focus and his attention to detail are his hidden talents, which are good for art projects that he enjoys while not at work. Brad said he can get so focused that his wife has to remind him to eat sometimes!

As shipping coordinator, Brad handles shipping of all domestic and international orders. He also serves departmental needs such as helping with small trade shows, quoting and keeping the company current with federal customs regulations.

The most interesting part of his job, Brad said, is that every day is a different challenge.

“The constant variations among domestic orders keeps me on my toes and the federal regulations involved with international orders are often an exercise in patience,” he said. “But seeing where and how far our products travel is great.  It shows how many people are understanding the needs our products address.”

Though the company has a lot of new and exciting products coming on board, Brad said that RealCare® Baby is still his favorite.

“It’s almost personable enough to be a real child, but the mission behind it – to teach firsthand the often unprepared experience of taking care of a child completely reliant upon you – that’s a powerful experience, and I don’t think it takes much for kids to really understand the enormous responsibility involved,” he said. “Whatever cute pipe dreams they have about having a child early are strongly grounded and discouraged by the experience when they see how deeply and completely a child takes over their lives.”

Brad said the culture of Realityworks is the best part about working for the company.

“Having a communicative, collaborative, and supportive group of departments and management team, our efforts at bettering the community – it’s just huge,” he said.  “The effort to lift society instead of break it down is so worth it.”

A Look Back on a Year of Giving

Every year Realityworks employees are fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the community in many ways. From nominating local organizations to receive donations to volunteering within the community, we are fortunate to work for a company that is dedicated to bettering our community through service.

This year employees participated in five larger volunteer and donation opportunities:

2nd_annual_flower_fundraiserRealityworks held the 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Flower Fundraiser. Employees had the opportunity to purchase roses in an effort to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin. All proceeds collected were matched by the charitable giving fund and then donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

feedmypeople2

 

A spring food drive was held this May in conjunction with a volunteer opportunity to help Feed My People Food Bank by volunteering their time to help repackage bulk food items.

 

busThe Culture Committee held their annual “Stuff the Bus” School Supply Drive contest during the month of August in which teams could earn points for items donated. Supplies were donated to three local schools which were nominated by our employees.

 

comm_tableIn September, several members of the Realityworks team volunteered their time at The Community Table, preparing and serving a meal for our local community members.  The Community Table serves one meal each day, 365 days a year and everyone is welcome!

 

christmas_is_for_children500pxLastly, during the months of November and December our employees had the opportunity to participate in iHeartRadio’s “Christmas is for Children” campaign, which enables businesses to purchase Christmas gifts for local kids. We were able to donate gifts to 17 local children for Christmas this year.

Along with those larger volunteer opportunities, donations supported more than 30 local and regional organizations, including:

Chippewa Area Mentor Program
Chippewa Senior High Special Needs Program
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Special Olympics, Polar Plunge
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern WI
MHS Senior Appreciation Night
Western Dairyland Community Action Agency
Roosevelt Elementary PTA – Eau Claire School District
Seymour Ball Club
Memorial H.S. Bowling Teams
Longfellow Jeanne Richie Memorial Puddle Jump
Special Olympics-Chippewa Falls
Northern Wisconsin State Fair Law Enforcement Booth
Odyssey of the Mind – Flynn Elem. Team
Feed My People Food Bank
South Middle School
McKinley Charter School
Boys & Girls Club
National MS Society – Upper Midwest Chapter
Altoona Area Foundation
Chippewa Valley Montessori School
Ski Sprites Water Ski Organization
Chippewa Sr High School
REACH, Inc. (Regional Enterprises for Adults and Children, Inc.)
Family Resource Center
Menomonie Boys & Girls Club
Kids N Cops
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc., Northwest District
Community Table
Southview Bear Crawl – Southview PTA
Children’s Museum of Eau Claire
The Shaken Baby Alliance
Hallie Heat Travel Ball
Christmas is for Children

We are so proud to be making a difference in our community, and each year we learn about more organizations that need our support. Charitable giving is truly a part of Realityworks’ corporate identity, and we look forward to doing even more in the years to come!

 

Spotlight – December Edition

Meet the Realityworks Team

andre2Andre Vestnes is an Engineering Test Technician at Realityworks. He lives on a hobby farm in Eleva, a small town next to Eau Claire. His family is originally from Norway and he was the first of his siblings to be born in the U.S.  Andre’s love of new foods and adventure is supported by his interest in travelling and hiking, and he has had the opportunity to travel all over the world.

As an Engineering Test Technician, Andre helps on product design, product engineering, testing in the test lab and writing test cases, test labs and scenarios. He also is a member of the company’s Culture Committee which takes care of charitable giving, helping educational charities and organizations locally and nationwide, along with planning company outings and events for all Realityworks employees.

He is currently working on Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) on new potential products that either Realityworks has designed or brings in to evaluate as options to add to product lines.

“I analyze an item as a whole to evaluate any potential/current failures or risks surrounding the product to determine if we need to mitigate or make changes to a product to ensure we have a safe, high quality product that we can provide to our customers with confidence,” said Andre.

So far, Andre’s favorite project at Realityworks so far has been guideWELD VR.andre1

“Implementations and feature enhancements in guideWELD VR is one of the accomplishments I’m proudest of during my time here so far,” he said. “This has been exciting because it allows in-depth training for students in the welding profession.  We have created a user-friendly and functional product.”

Andre says that the most Interesting thing that has happened to him at Realityworks would probably be a time he was welding in the maintenance shop.

“I was welding in our maintenance shop with my coworker, and we forgot to open the ventilation system and set off the fire alarm,” he said. “We walked out of the building and saw the entire company was lined up outside. Luckily it was a nice sunny day out, and everyone got a little fresh air.”

The people and the work atmosphere are Andre’s favorite things about working at Realityworks.

“Working at Realityworks is a unique experience, the people treat you like your family, they are kind and caring and never miss moment to help each other out when they need it,” he said. “The atmosphere is simply inspiring, people hold themselves accountable to do their work, and they strive to do their best. We all want to see Realityworks grow and succeed, and it shows with the everyday dedication, hard work ethic, and good communication each person shows in their work, and even outside of work. I am proud to work with the people I do, and they inspire me to work harder and smarter every day.”

Spotlight – November Edition

Meet the Realityworks Team

kathi_peck Kathi Peck has been with Realityworks for 13 years as our Accounts Receivable Clerk. A friend told her about the job opening, she was friends with an employee who worked here. In her role, Kathi handles a lot of different tasks including working with accounts receivable, processing credit cards, cash receipts, mail, bank reconciliation, and many other odds and ends.  She enjoys helping things run smoothly and problem solving issues that come up with both customers and the sales department.

“If I made a list of the things I like about Realityworks, the top one would always be the flexibility,” said Kathi when asked what she likes most about working for Realityworks. “My flexibility needs come with having a daughter who is 23 and autistic.  It is just her and me at home.  No other employer has come close to understanding how important she is to me.  It makes me feel more loyal to the company for that understanding.”

One of the most interesting things Kathi finds true about Realityworks is the huge impact we make in spite of being a very small company.

“To know we can make a difference even though we are a small company means we can all be proud of the work we do,” she said. “It takes every person here to contribute to make that happen and at the end of the day that is a good feeling.  When our customers succeed while using our products, we succeed.”

When not working, Kathi spends a lot of time with her family. She has two adopted kids, three biological kids and another daughter who she has all but adopted.  Kathi also has four granddaughters and a grandson.

Kathi said she has many hobbies and also enjoys travelling.

“I went on an Alaskan Cruise, zip lining, dog sledding,” she said.  “I also went to Mexico.  In the future, I would like to travel more within the United States.”

Can we lose the (RealCare) Baby Weight?

by Stacy Knudson, Realityworks Account Services Representative

“Baby, I Shrunk the Employees,” an eight- week all-employee weight loss challenge for Realityworks team members, kicked off Tuesday!

WeightLossChallengeKickOff

Realityworks team members kicked off their 8-week all-employee weight-loss challenge with a presentation about healthy habits.

Why would the Realityworks team begin this journey together? Our customers’ dedication to helping students lead healthy lives has always inspired us! Since the debut of our Healthy Choices Sex Education Program, we’ve realized we want to be
healthy ourselves while encouraging positive habits among others.

Throughout this challenge, Realityworks employees are encouraged to engage in a fun, healthy program to get on the right track before the holidays. As an added incentive, a friendly weight-loss competition with prizes is added into the mix!

Various resources are offered to support employees: activities such as walking, bicycling, dancing and workout DVDs, online health apps, healthy potluck, a chili cook-off, smoothie-tasting, a stretching demonstration, and nurse-led presentations about “awareness” and “maintenance.”

“Baby, I Shrunk the Employees” builds upon this summer’s Health Risk Assessments. Employees had the on-site opportunity to have vital stats tested and recorded by a health professional.

Creative team names add to the fun, and include Weight-To-Go, Mini-Mees, Soon 2B Skinniers, In It to Lose It, Weapons of Mass Reduction, Take It Off Baby, and Thinner Winners, and others.

For every collective eight pounds we lose, we’ll drop the equivalent of one RealCare Baby! There’s an image we can strive for!

Weigh-ins are confidential, with individuals reporting only percentage of weight change, with a collective weight recorded at the beginning and end.

Employees have been encouraged to lose weight safely, utilizing a healthy diet and exercise, consulting a doctor as needed.

We hope this will be the start of a lifetime of healthy habits!

Have you ever participated in a workplace weight loss challenge like this? Share your story in the comments below! 

Connecting at CareerTECH

ACTE Booth

It may have been colder than normal in Las Vegas last week, but that did not stop our team from meeting, greeting and connecting with career and technical education professionals at CareerTECH VISION 2013. Our team returned from this ACTE- sponsored conference on Monday, and as we evaluate the success of this year’s conference and prepare for next year, we can’t help reflecting on all the trade shows we have attended in the past 12 months and the connections we have made.

For us, it’s all about connections – connecting educators with revolutionary teaching products, connecting administrators with proven curricula, and even connecting students with real-life learning opportunities so they can – you guessed it – make their own connections and walk away having learned valuable life lessons or gained career-changing skills. That’s what Realityworks is all about, after all. We are dedicated to creating educational simulators that not only provide users with real-life parenting, welding and business experiences, but with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in work and life. We know that hands-on learning opportunities go a long way to ensure that students connect with and remember those lessons in the future, and demonstrating how our welding and infant simulators accomplish that at conferences like this is an exciting part of what we do!