Our Staff

The Pennsylvania Gunsmith School® staff has a rich gunsmithing history and has spanned the length of three generations from its founding to the present day. This demonstrates the staff’s commitment to the school’s continuity and longevity for now and into the future.

School President and Director

  • G. Robert “Bob” Thacker

    President and Director

    Mr. G. Robert "Bob" Thacker formally joined PGS in 1975. He is the third generation of Thackers to be involved, following in the footsteps of his great uncle and father.

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G. Robert “Bob” Thacker

President and Director

Mr. G. Robert “Bob” Thacker formally joined PGS in 1975. He is the third generation of Thackers to be involved, following in the footsteps of his great uncle and father. He grew up in the school and first became an assistant instructor in 1975 after attending and completing simultaneous studies at Robert Morris University and Pennsylvania Gunsmith School.

Over the years, Bob has held the positions of full-time Instructor, Assistant Director, Acting Director, Vice President and now President and Director. He has unending enthusiasm and dedication to gunsmithing and for the students and graduates of PGS.

He works closely with the Program Advisory Committee, employers and individual Gunsmiths to ensure that the training program meets the occupational demands. He has served has an adjunct instructor at the Central Training Academy, Dept. of Energy, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bob is an avid hunter and shooter, and trains in various workout disciplines.

Director of Instruction

  • Jamey Wojtaszek

    Director of Instruction

    Jamey Wojtaszek joined PGS in 2017 as Director of Instruction. A “people person” with excellent interpersonal skills, Jamey brings limitless excitement and enthusiasm for his students, along with a sincere desire to look for ways to improve the delivery of our Gunsmithing education......

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Jamey Wojtaszek

Director of Instruction

Jamey Wojtaszek joined PGS in 2017 as Director of Instruction. A “people person” with excellent interpersonal skills, Jamey brings limitless excitement and enthusiasm for his students, along with a sincere desire to look for ways to improve the delivery of our Gunsmithing education. Jamey is an avid hunter, and loves to spend time with his family.

A 2002 graduate of PGS, he spent 11 years with Gander Mountain as a staff gunsmith, regional gunsmith manager and hardlines manager. Jamey then joined Pittsburgh Cerakote Company as their Director of Operations, and most recently was General Manager of six locations of National Armory, a Pittsburgh-based firearms retail chain.

He helped National Armory increase their profitability substantially by utilizing his retail experience to create a cohesive team and build the company’s unique brand. Jamey brings an understanding of current market trends to PGS, while holding a respect for the traditional aspect of Gunsmithing. He was instrumental in creating the new PGS tagline “Traditional – Modern – Innovative,” which conveys this.

 

Instructional Staff

Led by PGS Director of Instruction Jamey Wojtaszek is a group of talented individuals who share a keen interest in Gunsmithing, firearms, shooting and hunting. Together they have over 130 years of Gunsmithing and engraving experience. All have a sincere desire to teach and mentor students in the craft that they love.

While a person can be a superb Gunsmith but an ineffective teacher, PGS instructors have been trained to do both well. They understand that students come from different backgrounds and life experiences, and have unique learning styles – whether visual, auditory or tactile.

By utilizing demonstrations (auditory), PowerPoint presentations, blueprints and instructional videos (visual), and hands-on “doing” activities (tactile), our staff aims to maximize each student’s potential with all three teaching methods in our toolbox.

  • David Crispen

    Instructor

    Dave came to PGS in 2023 after having served in the U.S Armed Forces for 14 years, leading troops into combat with 3 overseas tours, was the company armorer and field medic. After serving, he took his military armorer skills to several different gun shops. While at those shops he developed a love and a...

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  • Robert Brose

    Instructor

    Robert Brose, a 2011 PGS graduate, is our expert in bluing, polishing and refinishing techniques. Rob has 22 years of military service with both the Marines and Coast Guard. While in the Coast Guard he attended the Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy, and did small arms maintenance and training of members at a unit level.

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  • Brian Powley

    Instructor

    Brian Powley came to PGS in 2021 as a part-time instructor specializing in engraving. He is a full-time professional engraving artist and nationally known engraving instructor. He started engraving in 1980 and entered the the GRS Training Center in Emporia, Kansas and has received training from the best engravers in the world and has certifications...

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  • Brooks Norton

    Instructor

    Brooks came to PGS in 2021 after having served in the USMC where he was the unit expert for troubleshooting and repair in preparation for combat including rifles, machine guns, missile systems, optics, pistol maintenance and marksmanship training. Brooks is a PGS graduate and has worked for DTV Tactical Innovations serving and building NFA...

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  • James Smith

    Instructor

    James Smith, a 1991 graduate of PGS, did gunwork for over three years and formally joined our staff in 1994. He is our longest serving instructor. Prior to attending PGS, Jim worked in the construction industry as an ironworker, where he acquired mechanical abilities in a wide range of areas, including welding. His favorite part...

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David Crispen

Instructor

Dave came to PGS in 2023 after having served in the U.S Armed Forces for 14 years, leading troops into combat with 3 overseas tours, was the company armorer and field medic. After serving, he took his military armorer skills to several different gun shops. While at those shops he developed a love and a clientele for period correct muzzle-loading rifles. While never letting grass grow under his feet, he wanted to further refine his Gunsmithing skills by attending PGS. Dave decided to accept an instructional position because his desire was to “give back” to the Gunsmithing community. His favorite area of Gunsmithing is high end custom stockmaking, blue-printing stock design and customizing the venerable 1911.

Robert Brose

Instructor

Robert Brose, a 2011 PGS graduate, is our expert in bluing, polishing and refinishing techniques. Rob has 22 years of military service with both the Marines and Coast Guard. While in the Coast Guard he attended the Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy, and did small arms maintenance and training of members at a unit level. After graduation from PGS, Rob worked as a staff gunsmith at an Ohio shooting range performing anything from basic gun cleaning and refurbishing to more advanced gunsmithing operations. He also taught basic firearms safety and marksmanship classes. In his spare time, Rob enjoys shooting, traveling, camping, barbequing and helping people.

Brian Powley

Instructor

Brian Powley came to PGS in 2021 as a part-time instructor specializing in engraving. He is a full-time professional engraving artist and nationally known engraving instructor. He started engraving in 1980 and entered the the GRS Training Center in Emporia, Kansas and has received training from the best engravers in the world and has certifications from 2005, 2006, 2007,2008,2010, 2017 and 2019. Some of his notable instructors were: Glacoma Fausti, Italy; Ken and Marcus Hunt, United Kingdom, Phillippe Griffnee, Belgium, Alaine Lovenberg, Belgium; Mike Dubber, Indiana. In 1999, Brian achieved “Certified Master Engraver” from the Firearms Engravers Guild of America (FEGA). Notably, he has become a Colt Master Engraver. Some of his notable commissions were for Ted Nugent, Gary Player, Coach Ara Parseghian, Coach Bill Cowher, Mario Lemieux, Bill Mazeroski and Presidents Bush and Trump. Brian’s work is routinely featured in national gun magazines and many times on the cover.

Brooks Norton

Instructor

Brooks came to PGS in 2021 after having served in the USMC where he was the unit expert for troubleshooting and repair in preparation for combat including rifles, machine guns, missile systems, optics, pistol maintenance and marksmanship training. Brooks is a PGS graduate and has worked for DTV Tactical Innovations serving and building NFA weapons. He is also very skilled in the application of alternate finishes including well known Cerakote®.

James Smith

Instructor

James Smith, a 1991 graduate of PGS, did gunwork for over three years and formally joined our staff in 1994. He is our longest serving instructor. Prior to attending PGS, Jim worked in the construction industry as an ironworker, where he acquired mechanical abilities in a wide range of areas, including welding. His favorite part of Gunsmithing is metal work. He is a highly skilled machinist and adept at conveying these skills to students. In addition, when a machine breaks down (and they all do at some point), Jim is the diagnostician on staff, giving the students informal troubleshooting and diagnoses tips on these occasions. In Jim’s spare time, he is an avid motorcyclist, both on and off-road. He also loves to hunt and shoot.

Administrative Staff

PGS has an experienced administrative staff that can assist students in admissions procedures, financial aid, and student services . These dedicated individuals work hard to serve the student body and are available during the class day and no appointments are necessary to talk with them.

  • Carrie Wilson

    Assistant Director and Financial Aid Officer

    Carrie Wilson joined PGS in 2010 and is the school’s Assistant Director, Financial Aid Administrator, the VA Certifying Official and Director of Institutional Quality. Prior to joining PGS, Carrie was a senior accreditation specialist for the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

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  • Robin Mahon

    Admissions

    Robin Mahon joined PGS in 2006 and has held various staff positions. Currently she is the Director of Admissions and is one of the first staff members that people meet. She has an outgoing personality and a passion to help people find the right career.

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  • Maria Bergman

    Career Services

    Maria Bergman, Director of Career and Employer Services, came to PGS in 2002 after many years working in various business environments. Her past employment provided valuable experience in human resources and other administrative duties.

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  • Constance Travis

    Procurement Specialist and Administrative Support

    Constance Travis is the PGS Purchasing Manager and Administrative Support Specialist and joined the school in February 2016. She has held previous positions in purchasing, accounts payable and payroll, and keeps PGS inventories at a healthy level so that students have the items they need.

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Carrie Wilson

Assistant Director and Financial Aid Officer

Carrie Wilson joined PGS in 2010 and is the school’s Assistant Director, Financial Aid Administrator, the VA Certifying Official and Director of Institutional Quality. Prior to joining PGS, Carrie was a senior accreditation specialist for the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. She has a keen eye for detail and incredible drive and speed at performing anything necessary to help a student. Carrie has immersed herself in the fabric of the school and is the catalyst of the administrative team. She has brought many new policies and procedures to PGS to streamline the “behind the scenes” operations. Carrie earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has two children. Her son, a college student at Washington and Jefferson College, has worked summers at PGS digitizing old student records. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading and spending time with her family.

Robin Mahon

Admissions

Robin Mahon joined PGS in 2006 and has held various staff positions. Currently she is the Director of Admissions and is one of the first staff members that people meet. She has an outgoing personality and a passion to help people find the right career. She is responsible for providing information about PGS to callers and visitors, processing applications, and communicating with and scheduling accepted individuals. Robin earned a Journalism degree from Ohio University, completed coursework towards a teaching certificate in Secondary English at Cleveland State University, and has worked in public relations and as a high school college access counselor. Her hometown is Cleveland, and she is an avid Cleveland sports fan. She loves to spend time with family, travel and hike. She climbed Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, a few years ago and hopes to conquer it again in the future.

Maria Bergman

Career Services

Maria Bergman, Director of Career and Employer Services, came to PGS in 2002 after many years working in various business environments. Her past employment provided valuable experience in human resources and other administrative duties. As the link between graduating students and employers, Maria advises students on resume and cover letter preparation, and job search and interviewing techniques. Over the years she has developed many contacts with firearm industry employers and helps to facilitate interviews at PGS, on Skype and at employment sites. She annually attends SHOT Show in Las Vegas to network with current employers and gain new job leads. Maria earned an associates degree in special education at CCAC and completed additional coursework at California University in Pennsylvania. In her spare time, Maria loves to cook Italian food, shoot, and play with her german shepherd!

Employers: If you would like to interview and hire entry-level graduates, please contact Maria Bergman, Career Services Director at PGS, m.bergman@pagunsmith.edu or 412.766.1812 and she will work with both you and suitable candidates to partner in filling your positions.

Constance Travis

Procurement Specialist and Administrative Support

Constance Travis is the PGS Purchasing Manager and Administrative Support Specialist and joined the school in February 2016. She has held previous positions in purchasing, accounts payable and payroll, and keeps PGS inventories at a healthy level so that students have the items they need. She maintains over 600 items in the school store and is always on the lookout for bargains to pass on to students. Connie is also responsible for maintaining student accounts, attendance and PGS printed materials, as well as performing many other jobs that make things run smoothly in the background. The above picture shows her receiving shooting tips from our Director of Instruction at a staff in-service day (shooting instruction is not part of the regular student curriculum). Connie’s favorite holiday is Halloween and she enjoys watching science fiction and comics-based television shows and movies.

Program Advisory Committee

The PGS Program Advisory Committee meets twice a year and its main purpose is to advise the school on current gunsmithing practices so that the proprietary curriculum meets or exceeds the demands of employers. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is crucial that PGS graduates are the best-trained gunsmiths in the nation and this committee is charged to ensure that this vision is maintained. The members are both practicing gunsmiths and those individuals that are directly responsible for hiring gunsmiths. Therefore, students can rest assured that the PGS training program will assist them in their career goals.

The current committee members are:

  • Dean Batchelder, Gunsmithing Technical Support, Brownell’s, Inc., Montezuma, IA.   https://www.brownells.com/
  • Tony Veronesi, 1998, Owner, Veronesi Gunsmithing, Seminole, PA
  • Michael J. Pater, Esq., Attorney, Butler, PA
  • Doug Turnbull, President, Turnbull Restorations Co., Inc., Bloomfield, NY  https://www.turnbullrestoration.com/
  • Joshua Rowe, 2009, Partner and Lead Gunsmith, Allegheny Arms, Pittsburgh, PA    https://alleghenyarms.com/
  • David Gregor, 1982, U.S. Trinity Custom, Northlake, TX                                                  https://ustrinitycustom.com/
  • Sharon Dressell, Paul & Sharon Dressell Riflemakers, Yakima, WA. https://dressels.com/
  • John Kreiger, Krieger Rifle Barrels, Richfield, WI                                                     https://www.kriegerbarrels.com/
  • Cameron Childers, Childers Guns, Fairmont, WV                                                         https://www.childersguns.com/

Guest Speakers

 

PGS frequently has guest speakers that will both lecture and demonstrate firearms and associated tooling. On occasion, these lectures and demonstrations are combined with on-site gunsmith job interviews. Many graduates are eager to share their experiences seeking employment or setting up an independent gunsmithing shop.

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