Trisha Kulathungam describes her father, Raj Kulathungam, as someone who is always thinking of others, who cares about his community, and who gives the best gifts. When deciding what to get the man who loves giving for his birthday in 2017, she established a scholarship in his name for students in Red River College’s Welding program. The gift was such a hit, she established a second scholarship for students in the Electrical program for his birthday in 2019.
“He was so excited to be able to give scholarships to students. It’s the greatest gift for the guy who gives the best gifts,” she said. “He never got the opportunity to fully complete his education, so he’s always encouraged people to obtain higher education.”
Raj formed SCT Welding, Laser & Manufacturing in 1992 and currently manages the business with his kids. The 75,000 square-foot shop specializes in heavy duty, small batch runs for the automotive, transportation and agriculture sectors and employs 75 people (plus another 10 at Strong Electric).
In 2016, Raj also launched Strong Electric Manufacturing, which provides standard and custom engineered solutions for the commercial, industrial, utility and mining markets. The business is not limited to electrical products, but also specializes in manufacturing, painting, light assembly and bus fabrication.
Trisha said that her father is very compassionate and supportive as a business leader, which has created a strong working environment of employees who feel valued and have worked under Raj for many years.
“Everybody is treated like family. At our shop (during COVID) we have not had one layoff, and that speaks to the fact that no matter what, Raj is doing whatever he can to save jobs,” she said.
Trisha said that one of the reasons she and her family want to encourage young people to enter the trades because they know the demand is there and will continue to be there due to an aging skilled trades workforce getting ready to retire.
“There’s a lot of people who encourage university instead of college, but it’s important for young people to know there are options,” she said. “For people who would rather use their hands to build something than sit at a desk all day, trades are the bread and butter of our economy. When we work with students from the College I can see how creative they are at finding solutions to issues in trades and how we produce things – it’s a new way of thinking that will move our business and our industry forward.”
She said the biggest thing she’s learned from her dad is that the best thing you can do is help other people, and she hopes she can pass that sentiment along to the students who receive this award.
“Raj is dope,” she said. “He deserves to have something like this to honour his legacy, his work ethic and the way he treats people.”
Raj Kulathungam Craftsman Award for Welding and Electrical
Two $1000 awards for Welding and two $750 awards for Electrical have been established to celebrate an activist, community leader, and successful businessman Raj Kulathungam. These awards will support promising craftsmen graduating from the Welding and Electrical programs at Red River College. Raj believes that “welding is a talent, but it’s much more than that when you do it well”. The recipients of this award will be selected by the faculty, and will have displayed creativity in welding or Electrical projects, leadership skills and helpfulness to others, as well as showing high potential for a career in the welding or electrical industries. One recipient will be selected annually from each class.