WAUKESHA (WITI) -- When the President of the United States visits your workplace, it's a pretty big deal! Some employees at GE's Gas Engine Plant in Waukesha were excited to catch a glimpse of the President as he delivered a speech there on Thursday, January 30th -- just days after his State of the Union address.
Reggie Troop is the worker who had the big responsibility of introducing President Obama to the massive crowd assembled inside GE's Gas Engine Plant in Waukesha on Thursday. He compared the moment and his job at the plant to winning the Super Bowl.
"I'm just trying to soak it in," Troop said.
When the folks at GE were looking for the best person to introduce President Obama on Thursday, Troop became an easy choice.
Troop embodies everything President Obama addressed in his speech. Two years ago, Troop was working a minimum wage job.
"What I was making was just enough to provide for me, but not for a whole family," Troop said.
A wife, and two children later, Troop decided to make a change. He joined GE's adult apprenticeship program, training 40 hours a week for three months.
"It's a lot of people that want to work and work hard and make a living for their family and provide," Troop said.
The Waukesha plant has been a flurry of activity throughout the last few days. The White House only notified managers about the trip last Thursday.
"This is really a dream come true for me and the rest of the factory. This is phenomenal," Troop said.
The plant manufactures engines that run off gas. It's grown within the last few years to about 700 workers, but there's a big problem.
"The average age is about 56 years old. My business is growing but - a third of those people could retire in the next three years," a GE official told FOX6 News.
That's why GE has been reaching out to people like Troop -- and even high school students, to fill the void through apprenticeship programs.
That's how Jennifer Jakubiak got her job.
"I have a couple of friends who say, 'you work in a factory?' It's not just running an assembly line," Jakubiak said.
Jakubiak was one of about a dozen who stood on stage with President Obama as he signed an executive order to provide federal funds for job training programs.
"I think that's really awesome. I'm excited to see that," Jakubiak said.