NCMC, Gray Manufacturing and Missouri Western officials on factory floor with artists conception of CTAC

Dr. Lenny Klaver, president, NCMC; Pete Gray, CEO, Gray Manufacturing; Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, president, Missouri Western; and Stet Schanze, president, Gray Manufacturing.

Feb. 1, 2024–The central shop area in the Convergent Technology Alliance Center (CTAC) that is currently under construction on the campus of Missouri Western State University will bear the name of a longtime St. Joseph manufacturer. The Gray Manufacturing Workshop Bay recognizes the St. Joseph company’s early and sustained support of the project.

“We are so grateful that early on, Gray Manufacturing recognized the transformative impact this facility will have on workforce development in the region and pledged their support to the CTAC project when it was little more than an idea,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, Missouri Western’s president. “That early commitment laid the foundation for a successful project, demonstrating our seriousness of purpose and encouraging other businesses to contribute.”

CTAC, currently under construction on Missouri Western’s campus, is a partnership with North Central Missouri College to serve workforce development needs in skilled manufacturing, construction and related industries.

Pete Gray

Pete Gray, CEO and chairman of the board, Gray Manufacturing, at an event on the factory floor Feb. 1.

CTAC may be the most impactful public/private partnership project this community has seen in workforce development,” said Pete Gray, CEO of Gray Manufacturing. “The hands-on learning experiences and the applied learning in a lab setting is exactly what our community desperately needs.”

Gray Manufacturing contributed $500,000 to the project, but the support goes beyond financial, said Marc Archambault, Missouri Western’s vice president for advancement and executive director of the MWSU Foundation.

“Pete Gray was a great ambassador for this project from the beginning, meeting with other business leaders and helping them see our vision,” Archambault said. “Gray Manufacturing and our other corporate partners are also closely involved in advising us about equipment purchases and course delivery methods to help ensure that the education that takes place in CTAC is directly relevant to the workforce needs of today.”

stet schanze

Stet Schanze, Gray Manufacturing president, describes a new robotic welder that has dramatically increased the factory’s capacity.

Stet Schanze, Gray Manufacturing president, described the company’s investment in a state-of-the art large parts robotic welder that increased manufacturing capacity by 42%. 

“All of this technology means nothing if we don’t have the skilled workforce to run it,” Schanze said. “The welders who operate this machine need to be skilled in welding process, metal property knowledge, robotic programming abilities, computer software skills, mathematical skills and ability to read engineering blueprints, just to name a few. These are the skills that CTAC will build in our workforce.”

The $12 million project is expected to open in Fall 2024. Funding has been provided by Missouri Western, NCMC, the State of Missouri, the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County and several local businesses.

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit