Meridian Technology Center Electrical Technology Student Christopher Jones Earns Kinnunen Salute to the Skilled Workforce Award

Eric Marone, Kinnunen Sales and Rental store manager, left, presents Meridian Technology Center student Christopher Jones with a $1,000 check. Jones is the 2021 Salute to the Skilled Workforce recipient.

Story provided by Meridian Technology Center

Christopher Jones is the recipient of the 2021 Salute to the Skilled Workforce award from Kinnunen Sales and Rental.   

The award, created in 2018 by Greg Hughes, owner of Kinnunen Sales and Rental, recognizes an outstanding construction trades student at Meridian Technology Center. Stanley Black & Decker’s DeWALT tools is a contributing partner to this year’s award. Students eligible for the Salute to the Skilled Workforce award must have completed one of the school’s trades programs that includes Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Carpentry, Electrical Technology, Facilities Management or Masonry. 

The Salute to the Skilled Workforce award includes $1,000 to purchase tools from Kinnunen Sales and Rental. Hughes hopes to encourage others in the industry to find ways to recognize construction trades employees.  

“The demand for skilled workers in the construction industry continues to grow,” Hughes said. “The number of students who choose to pursue this path continues to decline despite the necessity of workers. We want to recognize and reward students who are committed to this industry and building their future at Meridian.” 

The construction industry had 246,000 job openings in October 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hughes hopes that by bringing attention to the need for skilled workers, more students will see this as an ideal career path. 

Worthy of a Salute 

Jones, a recent Stillwater High School graduate, is a student in the Electrical Technology program at Meridian. He attended Meridian during his junior and senior years of high school and completed the Carpentry program in May 2020.  

Christopher Jones is the recipient of this year’s Salute to the Skilled Workforce award. Greg Hughes, owner of Kinnunen Sales and Rental, established the award to recognize students from Meridian Technology Center pursuing a career in the construction trades.  

During his time at Tech, Jones has been a member of SkillsUSA, a student organization that builds leadership skills and allows students to showcase the skills they’ve learned through state and national competitions. During his first year at Meridian, Jones was a member of the TeamWorks competition with SkillsUSA, winning first place at the state level. In 2019, Jones served as SkillsUSA Vice President. He currently serves as chapter President. He is also a member of the Meridian Technology Center Leadership Class, a program that provides mentorship and leadership opportunities for the school’s student organization officers.  

Carpentry Instructor Cy Boles said, “Chris always has a positive attitude, and he’s always willing to put in the work to make sure a project is done correctly. He will be a great addition to any company.” 

Meridian Technology Center Carpentry Instructor Cy Boles, back, helps Christopher Jones pick out tools and supplies at Kinnunen Sales and Rental.  Jones is the recipient of the 2021 Salute to the Skilled Workforce award from Kinnunen Sales and Rental. He received $1,000 to use toward tools at Kinnunen to start his career. 

Kinnunen Sales and Rental is a one-stop shop for construction supplies, equipment rentals, parts and service. Ray Kinnunen opened the first location out of his garage in 1991. Four years later he relocated the company to Stillwater. Greg and Wendy Hughes purchased the business in 2013. The company now includes Kinnunen Sales and Rental and the Kinnunen Service Center in Stillwater as well as Kinnunen Sales in Enid. 

Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, workforce and economic development assistance and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.  

For more information or to enroll, visit or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.