Dee Howard and ST Engineering Partnerships – 50th Anniversary Series
In the 1960s, the United States suffered from a serious shortage of aircraft technicians, a time where air travel was growing extensively. The demand for growth in this booming industry required a new method for developing essential technicians, leading to the founding of Hallmark University in September 1969. Since its beginning nearly 50 years ago, Hallmark has established itself in the San Antonio community as an institution focused on creating change in the crucially important areas it specializes in. Hallmark University set itself apart as a leader in changing lives by partnering with other organizations with shared values, including one local company driven by innovation in aviation.
Durrell U. “Dee” Howard founded the Dee Howard Company in 1964, with a goal to become the industry leader in engineering and production of performance improvements for the newly emerging commercial jet-aircraft market. Mr. Howard developed aircraft assets that improved not only the functionality of the aircraft but the safety of it as well. This progressive way of thinking required a skilled and reliable workforce to help bring these creations to the industry, a role that Hallmark was uniquely qualified to fill.
“The city had one of the largest military centers in the country and was home for some of the leading people in aviation,” said Richard Fessler, Co-Founder of Hallmark University. “What made the Dee Howard Company unique, was that they saw other company’s problems as their opportunity for success. The heart of the Dee Howard Company was innovation, improvement, and excellence. If it was a faulty airplane, he found a way to make it better, safer, and more efficient. The influx of Hallmark graduates was critical to the Dee Howard Company’s pioneering success. Mr. Howard knew it wasn’t just the mechanics or just the airplanes. The people made a difference. That mindset helped them find better solutions, better answers, and better products for their customers and the industry.”
The Dee Howard Company continued to drive change in the San Antonio community, while Hallmark University continuously provided a steady supply of aviation technicians. In 2002, The Dee Howard Company was incorporated into the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) giant ST Engineering, continuing to provide the aviation industry with unmatched service and over 1,200 careers for San Antonio. ST Engineering expanded the services that the Dee Howard Company offered and has led to an even stronger partnership with Hallmark University.
“ST Engineering is primarily focused on delivering the highest level of quality services to our valued customers,” said Noel Casiño, VP for Quality and Organizational Excellence at ST Engineering. “We recognize that for us to deliver the highest level of quality service, we need quality mechanics, inspectors, and managers working for us. It’s important for employees to come in on time and have good work ethics, attitudes, and values. Those are the things that make Hallmark University graduates stand out. They are so successful in our organization that four of our program managers for our primary customers are Hallmark alumni. That shows the strength of the education that Hallmark University is providing to its students, making them ready for the workforce environment that we all need in the industry.”
ST Engineering and Hallmark University share a vested interest in their collaboration, as both organizations have made efforts to educate and train the continual supply of knowledgeable and experienced graduates that come from Hallmark’s College of Aeronautics. As the partnership develops, so do new opportunities for improvement. ST Engineering recently implemented an apprenticeship program specifically designed for Hallmark University graduates to quickly acclimate and train new aircraft technicians.
“Aviation technicians are in extremely high demand, but they do not develop overnight,” said Brent Fessler, Chief Advancement and Institutional Effectiveness Officer at Hallmark University. “We have a special apprenticeship with ST Engineering where they hire current students, not graduates but current students, to become apprentices at ST Engineering. They learn about the culture in the organization and their processes. We have a long history with them, and it’s growing as ST Engineering is supporting us and getting more involved as time moves on.”
Hallmark University attracts some of the most unique and talented individuals in the San Antonio community and is proud to educate the next generation of aviation technicians with one of its closest industry partners. The Hallmark University College of Aeronautics’ alumni bring ambitious plans and dreams to their employers, driving further innovation and enthusiasm in the workplace and San Antonio.
“I am amazed by the caliber of Hallmark University students’ dreams and goals,” said Noel Casiño. “One student told me he wants to set up his own airline. That’s the level of passion that Hallmark University is inspiring among its students. As an employer, we’re happy about that because we want employees to join us who share our vision and dreams. I think creating an airline is something so wonderful to hear from a student. We are always looking for ways to learn. We are going to continue to hire the students of Hallmark University, and we are going to continue to look into ways where we can share knowledge with one another.”