Chris Morris Colby Stewart Leanne Cobb And Mike Zambito DSC5960

Press Release                                                                                                                                                   
January 4, 2024

(By Lisa Garrett)

Colby Stewart Is Ulbrich Specialty Wire Product’s First Apprentice from TCTC

PENDLETON --- Colby Stewart, a 21-year-old Mechatronics major, is Ulbrich Specialty Wire Product’s first apprentice from Tri-County Technical College (TCTC).

Stewart is an apprentice in the engineering department and works as a technician/electrician under the guidance of a seasoned electrician. He works four days a week, four to five hours a day at the Westminster facility and earns a paycheck while learning his craft.

Apprenticeships benefit employers by providing them with a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience. Ulbrich already employs co-ops from four-year colleges but hiring an associate degree student for this on-the job-training is a first for the Westminster facility. 

“We know the value of a two-year degree and we always knew Tri-County was down the road,” said Mike Zambito, director of engineering and maintenance. “We employ TCTC graduates, including Chris Morris, manager of electrical engineering and plant controls.  Recently, our company’s needs changed and our culture changed. We were finally able to make this work-based learning opportunity happen for a TCTC student this year.”

It’s a perfect fit for Stewart, and for the Westminster-based company, that is equipped for rolling, drawing, annealing, straightening and precision winding of a variety of round, flat and square wire products.

Apprenticeships help students to develop a realistic expectation of industry. They also produce ready-made technicians who will feel engaged right from the beginning, and therefore have a personal and professional investment in the company. 

Stewart gains the theoretical knowledge in the classroom and then applies that knowledge on the job.

Stewart said he wanted this hands-on experience and values the mentoring experiences with co-workers whom he shadows. “I enjoy the real-world problems that complement the textbooks,” he said.  He also is building hours toward his journeyman’s municipal license. He must accrue or work 2,000 hours to meet the standards to take the test and earn his license.

“He is an extra set of hands to help with projects and he is part of the team,” said Zambito.

Morris said it was evident Stewart wanted the job when he arrived at the interview early.

“He is helping us to complete projects. After he graduates from TCTC, if he is hired he will know the plant and the culture.  This is an investment that is mutually beneficial for both of us,” said Morris.

Stewart said the smaller campus and approachable instructors are what attracted him to TCTC.  Prior to enrolling, he had taken four years of mechatronics classes at the career center, in addition to one year of machine technology classes.  

“This time next year we’d like to have more TCTC apprentices, like Colby, join our team,” said Morris, a 1994 graduate of TCTC’s Industrial Electronics Technology program. He has been at Ulbrich for 26 years. “We have many longtime employees with 50 years of service.  Ulbrich is a good family-owned business that values its employees.”

About Tri-County Technical College

Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, business administration, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit