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Smiling from Success

Student in a hard hat

KenDarrius (KD) VanBuren has plenty of reasons for the smile he’s sporting in his photo. He recently completed a five-week training course in the Trenchless Utility Program. It’s a new program. In fact, KD was in the pilot class. Etheridge Pipeline & Conduit (EPC), located in West Monroe, reached out to LDCC for help with employment demands for their growing company. They need people with these skills, and KD needed a career.

EPC is investing in a partnership with LDCC to train individuals to be skilled at every crew function. “This person’s doing just line. This person’s doing just gas. This person’s doing just tracing or tracking. We’re gluing all of these pieces of training together, everything from safety all the way to inspection,” explains John Garrison, director of advanced manufacturing training at LDCC. This is also what separates this program from any other across the state. Other programs focus on just an aspect of the crew’s work, but LDCC will teach each crew member’s job.

Upon completion, students will be able to apply for positions that range from $20/hour to $30/hour, depending on the actual job. “It’s essential to partner with our local institutions like LDCC and utilize the resources they have available. Not only can they provide talented individuals who are trainable in the skillset we need, but the best part is also that they are local, shares Caleb Etheridge. EPC’s number one priority is to provide a place for our local people to work and make a good living doing it.”

That aligns with KD’s goals. Born and raised in Rayville, LA, KD had aspirations of playing basketball. “But things happen, and I had to go to work,” shares KD. When he heard about the Trenchless Utility Program, he immediately viewed it as an opportunity. “I wanted to try something new and prayed it would work out for me,” says VanBuren. “I wanted to be able to help my family.” VanBuren is speaking of his mom, sister (18), and brother (8).  

KD was the first of his class to be extended an offer of employment with EPC, complete with benefits. Etheridge says what stood out about VanBuren was that he was present every day. “He has a good skill set, and he showed up and showed up on time. That’s very important in our company,” explains Etheridge. VanBuren shared he believes in hard work. “Time is money,” he affirmed. Afterward, VanBuren shared, “I’m on to a better career! This is an unbelievable feeling.” VanBuren could hardly wait to get home to tell his mom. “She wants the best for son, and now I can pursue that.” 

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