E-clusive: It’s Time to Evangelize Manufacturing

September 21, 2016 No Comments
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By Nancy Huddleston

It’s not every day that you hear someone say, “we need to evangelize manufacturing as a profession.”

toc_eclusives50pxBut that’s just what Mark Schumacher, President and COO of Liberty Diversified International, said during the Manufacturing Forum last week, which was hosted by Twin Cities Business magazine. His comment came in response to a question from the audience about workforce development.

Vicki Holt, President and CEO of Proto Labs, agreed with the idea of evangelizing manufacturing, and said that the industry is a “glamorous place to be,” which appeals to students who are involved in STEM programs.

But Amanda Kehoe, Director of Human Resources for Wilson Tool, said the biggest obstacle to convincing students about a career in manufacturing is their parents, who have outdated perspectives about manufacturing. It was suggested that in order to combat that problem, manufacturers need to bring parents and students into their companies to break down those barriers.

Other challenges

Each of the panelists was asked to describe a challenge they’ve face at their business and how they overcame it.

  • Healthcare: Costs were going up 12 – 19 percent per year at Wilson Tool Company. To address rising costs, the company formed a unique alliance with Health Partners in 2008 to provide a clinic in the building for its 450 employees and their dependents at the White Bear Lake company. There is also a wellness coach and a physical therapist on site. As a result, there have been no increases in healthcare costs for the past seven years, only a slight increase in administrative costs to manage the clinic, and the company is seeing a reduction in lost time for workers.
  • Market Share: Proto Labs’ wants to reach more companies and engineers who are doing business the “old fashioned” way. With an available market of $7 billion, the company realizes it is only capturing a certain percentage of that, so there is a concentrated effort to find new customers while still striving to reduce the time it takes to get materials made for existing customers.
  • Packaging Manufacturing: The challenge at Liberty Diversified International is to keep up with ongoing changes in manufacturing and come up with solutions to meet the demands of the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0.”  Since manufacturers are expected to be more and more efficient every day, Liberty Diversified is striving to keep pace with those changes with its family of companies in paper and packaging, building products, and workplace environments.pm_endmarkorg-e1320337214275

Nancy Huddleston is the editor and publications manager of Precision Manufacturing Journal. She can be reached at nancy@mpma.com.



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