Built with a generous donation from Leslie E. Tassell on a brownfield site now restored to valuable commercial land by MichCon, the Tassell MTEC is GRCC's newest gem. Programs range from Automotive Servicing, to Manufacturing, and to Building Trades & Construction.
More than 250 people came together with GRCC November 1, 2000 to break ground for our new Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC). The Center, which bears the name of donor Leslie E. Tassell, opened to students in January 2002.
Joining GRCC Board members, administrators, faculty and staff were dozens of future neighbors, community and business leaders, and state officials, including Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie, GRCC Board of Trustees Chair Gary Schenk, Right Place Program President Birgit Klohs, Gill Industries CEO and campaign chair Rita Williams, MichCon Vice President of Public Affairs Fred Shell, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation representative Cindy Ballard. MichCon donated an 11-acre piece of land for the building, located at the corner of Godfrey and Rumsey streets in southwest Grand Rapids. The construction site is in a brownfield redevelopment zone and GRCC, MichCon and the Department of Environmental Quality are working together on a clean-up plan.
About Leslie E. Tassell
A self-made man in every respect, Les Tassell began his illustrious career with humble beginnings. It was here in Grand Rapids that he began the long, successful journey that led him to become a contented family man whose hard work not only provided a great legacy for his children and grandchildren, but enhanced the community around him.
His family emigrated from Europe to Canada when Tassell a young child. Later, they headed south to the United States where he began learning the tool-and-die trade at age 15 sharpening saw blades and running errands. In between fetching tools and doing menial tasks, he learned to work in the metal arts. This enabled him to find work in Pontiac when the Great Depression hit and caused layoffs in Grand Rapids.
Weathering the Depression and WWII on the east side of the state, he took advantage of the post-WWII economic boom by investing with a partner in a machine-and-tool company. Little more than a decade after that venture began, he opened up a new facility on 150 acres of land located at the corner of 32nd St. and Shaffer Avenue SE. The Leslie Metal Arts Co. specialized in tool-and-die services, and quickly became better known as Lescoa.
Lescoa grew to become a $220 million company with a staff of nearly 2,000. The success of the company is largely attributable to Tassell’s philosophy that one must care about employees and the work they’re doing in order to have a productive working relationship. In keeping with this family atmosphere, Tassell made sure that his workers received bonuses when he finally sold the company in 1999.
Before he passed away on March 19, 2004, Tassell divided his time between his estate in Cascade Township and his marina in the Florida Keys. Though his pace had slowed, he was as tireless and diligent as ever, devoting a few hours a day at the office to keeping tabs on Lescoa’s operations as part of Meridian Automotive Systems.
As a generous philanthropist, he has made large contributions to build the educational resources of West Michigan. His benevolence enabled Grand Valley State University to build not only an engineering building, but a health professional building as well.
Les Tassell knew the value of education, innovation and hard work, saw the great opportunity that a facility like the Leslie E. Tassell M-TECSM provides for the community. For all of these things, Grand Rapids Community College is proud that the M-TECSM building in downtown Grand Rapids bears the name of Leslie E. Tassell.