Manufacturing Day, an annual event held on the first Friday in October, “is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.” Each year, hundreds to thousands (this year 2,200 and counting) of manufacturers open their doors to students and educators to showcase their business and to develop relationships with the community.
A few goals of the nationwide initiative are: to display the potential in manufacturing, to generate interest in manufacturing careers, and to set right public perception of the industry.
In his 2014 presidential proclamation addressing National Manufacturing Day, Barack Obama declared, “With ingenuity and a determined spirit, hardworking Americans are creating products and unlocking new technologies that will shape our Nation and grow our economy.”
In honor of these innovators of the future, we’re featuring several Manufacturing Day champions from the rust belt that are opening their doors and putting a face on the industry. Read on to learn about these organizations, and the common threads that keep them participating in Manufacturing Day year after year.
- Robinson Fans (@RobinsonFansInc) – Located in the quaint Zelienople borough of Butler County in Northwest Pennsylvania, Robinson Fans has over 100 years of experience in manufacturing industrial air movement equipment for the mining, pulp and paper, cement, chemical process, and steel industries. When asked about their involvement in Manufacturing Day, representative April Vitovsky explained, “We are excited to invite the community into Robinson Fans to see the daily process of manufacturing our highly engineered, custom-built industrial air moving equipment. Having been in Zelienople for almost a century, we very rarely have the opportunity to open our doors to the public and show them there are manufacturing jobs here at home.”
- Miller Welding & Machine Co. (@MillerWeld) – Spread across three facilities in Western Pennsylvania, Miller Welding & Machine Co. has 50+ years of experience under its belt. What started as a company that catered to the mining and lumber industries, expanded into the steel industry, and eventually developed into a single-source supplier for every metal manufacturing need. Eric Miller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, understands the importance of rectifying the public’s image of the industry through strategic opportunities, saying: “Manufacturing environments, which include highly trained, well-paid employees who work on state-of-the-art equipment, are commonly thought of as antiquated factories designed for low-skilled workers. Manufacturing Day addresses this misperception by giving all manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, exactly what manufacturing is and what it isn’t.”
- Starwin Industries – Starwin Industries, headquartered in a 30,000 square foot facility in Kettering, Ohio, has served the aerospace and automotive industries for over 50 years. Providing specialized production parts, test rig components, instrumentation, and prototype parts, Starwin Industries commits to quality in engineering and production. President Rick Little added a personal sentiment to their motivation to participate in Manufacturing Day — “As a kid I loved science, understanding how things work, and making things. I started at Starwin as a machinist and have served as its president now for eleven years. I want to show young people that there is a good career path for others like me who enjoy making things.”
- Projects Unlimited, Inc. (@PUIelectronics) – Projects Unlimited in Dayton, Ohio, serves Aerospace and Defense companies worldwide as an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider. It has been described by clients as “the smallest big company” for its ability to remain flexible and efficient while providing the equipment and expertise frequently associated with much larger organizations. Speaking to the goals of Manufacturing Day, Projects Unlimited President and CEO, Chris Wyse, explained, “We’re very excited to show the future workforce that a career in manufacturing can be clean, safe, enjoyable, and fulfilling…There are plenty of manufacturing careers available that are interesting, rewarding, provide good benefits, and still allow your brain to be challenged.”
- Hendrick Manufacturing – Founded over a century ago in 1876, Hendrick Manufacturing is a leader in perforated and fabricated metal products. With offices in Carbondale, PA, and Elgin, IL, Hendrick Manufacturing is known for American-made products, long-term reliability, and cutting-edge solutions. Representative Sandy Winkelman explained, “Manufacturing Day presents an opportunity to open our doors to the public and give visitors an up-close view of our daily operations and learn about the value of what we do and its impact on the community. It also allows us to introduce manufacturing as a career choice to young people—who are key to Hendrick’s sustainability as a manufacturer in the future.”
- ATAS International, Inc. (@ATAS_Intl_Inc) – Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Allentown, PA, ATAS International, Inc. also has facilities in Maryville, Tennessee and Mesa, Arizona. A leading manufacturer of metal roofing, metal wall cladding, metal ceiling panels, and metal accessories for commercial and residential buildings, ATAS International was also named as a Lehigh Valley 2016 Top Workplace. Spokeswoman Anne Hicks explained the value of the industry and Manufacturing Day to local communities; “The Manufacturing industry has been a part of the Bus heritage for 50+ years. ATAS International’s family and staff know that manufacturing plays a vital role in the health of the Lehigh Valley and US economies. We open the doors to educate students and the public to the advancements and ideal opportunities manufacturing has to offer.”
- Pace Industries, Airo Division (@diecasting) – The Airo Division of Pace Industries, founded in 1975, resides in a 155,400 square foot facility in Loyalhanna, PA. Serving the automotive, motorcycle, recreational vehicle, and heatsink technology industries, the Airo Division specializes in operations including die-casting, tool design and construction, impregnating, pressure testing, chromating, and painting and assembly. Representative Ethan Robinson describes the skills gap, an issue facing the industry and a major motivation to continue Manufacturing Day: “America is facing what educators and industry alike call the ‘skills gap.’ With technology making huge advances every day, jobs are becoming more and more technical, thus requiring more education. The problem is that students aren’t seeking education in these areas, they believe that trade skill jobs are a dead end. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The skills gap refers to the high number of jobs that employers need to fill but not having enough qualified applicants to choose from. The reality of the situation is that students that have knowledge of these trade skills are more valuable than ever and capable of achieving high wages and explosive job growth potential. We want to educate students on what modern manufacturing has become. Pace Industries is dedicated to finding these students with knowledge of our industry and offering them an opportunity to begin an excellent career. These students are the future of Pace Industries.”
- eRockets – eRockets, from Dayton, Ohio, was formed when owner Randy Boadway’s rocketry hobby intersected with opportunity. After a right-sizing at his organization left him unemployed, he launched what is now a flying model rocket retailer with the world’s largest selection of rocket kits. In addition, eRockets also manufactures 121 of its own kits under the Semroc brand. Boadway explains that their products allow students to mix fun with learning: “We participate in MFG Day because we feel kids today do not have the skills to actually build something! Rocketry gives them that chance. Not only are valuable construction techniques learned but also the engineering that has to go along with something that flies. We like to encourage kids to select a STEM field and model rocketry helps introduce them to different ideas.”
Read more about Manufacturing Day 2016, including a full list of events, and follow the conversation online using #MFGday16.
Elliance, a manufacturing marketing agency located in Pittsburgh, PA, partners with manufacturers to strengthen their brand and to increase their digital footprint. We are pleased to express our respect and gratitude for the work manufacturers accomplish on a daily basis.