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NASCAR legend Richard Petty speaks to Randleman High School students as Northern Tool & Equipment CEO and President Suresh Krishna, left, and Greg Doria, Senior Vice President of Lincoln Electric, listen.  Eric Abernathy / Randolph Hub

Providing the tools to help kids succeed

RANDLEMAN — Calling himself “Santa’s helper,” Richard Petty joined Northern Tool + Equipment in donating more than $25,000 worth of tools and equipment to the Randleman High School Career and Technical Education program.


Addressing C-T students on Dec. 8, Petty told them, “When I went to school we didn’t have this,” talking about education in the trades. “I had to learn on my own. My training in automotives was through the racing deal. 


“When I first started welding, I would try this and that. Then somebody would say, ‘Hey kid, that’s not the way to do this.’ Then they showed me how.”


Petty said he was a 1955 graduate of Randleman High School when the only program dealing with the trades was Future Farmers of America. 


But schools today offer many of the trades such as welding, which has become “a passion of mine since a young age,” he said. “It’s neat that kids already know a little bit. Now kids have a start. It really gives them a head start. People who learn a trade will always have a job. There’s more schooling and better equipment. 


“Thank you to Northern Tool and Lincoln Electric, and merry Christmas.”


Northern Tool + Equipment is a family-owned business which started the Tools for the Trades program in 2021 to give instructors the proper tools to teach the trades. 


“This is a program to bring together different sections of the community,” from Northern retail store employees to master trade people to schools and vending partners, CEO Suresh Krishna said. “We want to make sure the people who built the country can continue to be able to work.”


Dennis Hamilton, principal of Randleman High, said, “Our goal is to prepare you for trades. These tools will help with your next stage in life. Vocational classes taught me so much as a student, including life skills. Students really like to work like that.”


The donation of tools and equipment received boosts from Lincoln Electric, which provided a welder, and Ingersoll Rand, which gave Randleman a compressor and equipment ranging from hand tools to inverters to air hoses. Each shop student also received a shopping bag containing “swag.”


“We work with men and women in the trades every day,” Krishna said. “We know there is a skilled labor shortage. This program can help address the labor shortage.”


To the students, Krishna said, “I’m thrilled to be here. It’s a joy to see your faces. Tools for Trade joins schools, our employees, customers and vendors. And today Richard Petty as an ambassador for skilled trade. I’m thrilled to be at Randleman.”