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Stow -- Manufacturing is not dead in the United States; that is the message of Manufacturing Day.
During the national event, always on the first Friday in October, area high school students visit and tour participating manufacturing businesses and find out what they do and what they offer prospective employees.
On Oct. 7, NMG Aerospace on Hudson Drive hosted students from Stow-Munroe Falls and Kent Roosevelt high schools. The two districts are part of the Six District Educational Compact, a 47-year-old cooperative that focuses on improving vocational training for students within the member districts by sharing resources. Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Tallmadge and Woodridge schools are the other compact members.
Meanwhile, nearby on Boyce Parkway off Commerce Drive, Anderson International Corp., which has designed and manufactured processing equipment for various industries since 1888, hosted students from Portage Lakes Career Center and Akron CNC Machining Center.
Manufacturing Day is a national initiative of various manufacturing trade organizations.
"Manufacturing Day addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is -- and what it isn't," says the Manufacturing Day website.
Stow Economic Development Coordinator Ken Trenner said the event is designed to correct some beliefs and connect employers with prospective employees.
"The businesses are hoping to dispel the notion that manufacturing is dark and dirty, which it's not anymore," said Trenner. "It's important to get the word out. It's good for the businesses because there are a lot of good jobs that the businesses have trouble filling and there are a lot of people looking for good jobs."
NMG Aerospace Talent Manager Tom Burick told students that NMG is representative of what a lot of manufacturers have become: cleaner, safer and more comfortable for employees than what companies were long ago.
"Those days are kind of gone from manufacturing," he said. "A lot has changed. Manufacturing has made great strides."
Jessica Dragar, a public affairs liaison with the office of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, visited both Anderson International and NMG Aerospace. She said she is one of a number of treasurer's office staff members who were fanning out around the state that day to recognize businesses for their participation.
"We just love this event," she said. "Promoting growth, promoting manufacturing, is something Treasurer Mandel is passionate about. If manufacturing is doing well, then Ohio's economy is doing well."
Anderson Human Resource Manager Carla Fitzpatrick said this is the second year Anderson, which includes the polymer and animal feed industries among those it provides equipment for, has taken part in Manufacturing Day. She said it is about "giving back to the community."
"We're excited," said Fitzpatrick. "We love doing this and look forward to many more years of doing this and finding new ways to engage students."
Fitzpatrick said that last year, the company had employees talk to the students about their jobs and what Anderson does, then took them on a tour. This year, she said, the company came up with something new in addition to a tour: Divide students into relay teams in a competition operating a miniature version of a machine designed and patented by Anderson to expel water from solids, such as raw rubber.
"It's never fun to go and just hear someone lecture," said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said Anderson is not only trying to attract qualified employees, but retain them. An example is helping employees pay for college.
"Anderson's policy is we will pay up to 75 percent of college tuition so long as it's related to what we do," she said.
Fitzpatrick said she herself is one of about six employees currently taking advantage of the program while working on a master's degree in human resources and development. She cited another example of a machinist who received financial help under the program to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering, receiving a promotion as a result.
Experience provides 'exposure' for students
NMG Aerospace, a company that dates back to 1967, manufactures components for the aviation and aerospace industries, both civilian and military.
President Rich Yori told the students before their tour that examples of the many components manufactured by NMG Aerospace are Boeing 737 wheels and nose wheel steering gear and passenger jet evacuation slides.
"You're going to see a lot of welding, a lot of assembly, a lot of machining. You're going to see a lot of different things," said Yori.
Yori told the students to notice the cooperation of the employees.
"For us to be successful, everyone must work together as a team," he said. "As you go through, see how everyone works together."
During the tour, Program Manager Tim Martell said Anderson takes pride in using state-of-the-art equipment and showed off a recent acquisition, a new type of milling machine costing between $600,000 to $800,000 that shapes metal by moving the tools within the machine as they work, rather than moving the metal around stationary tools. Martell said NMG is expected to soon add two more such machines in its plant.
"It doesn't get any newer or fancier than this," he said.
Stow-Munroe Falls High School teacher Terri Whitmer, who accompanied 18 program and software development students on the tour, said Manufacturing Day gives the students "exposure."
"And I think for [the businesses], they need younger people to come work for them," she said. "There seems to be a shortage of younger people wanting to work in manufacturing."
Stow-Munroe Falls sophomore Joey Klonowski said after the tour that his interest is in a career in information technology, but he was impressed nonetheless.
"It looks like a really good opportunity for the future," he said.
Junior Colin Sellers, who is interested in a career working with computers, said he thinks a company like NMG would be a good place to work.
"I was actually really impressed by all the machines and how they all worked together," he said. "I think it would be cool to work in a place like this and program the big machines."
Burick told the students that NMG offers a tuition assistance program in an effort to retain employees.
"We hope that individuals who want to do that and move up with their careers will want to be lifers and go on working for NMG," said Burick.
The company also offers other programs to help attract younger workers, including a student employment program to provide mentoring and a machinist apprentice program. Burick said not everyone wants to go to college and there are good opportunities for careers, such as machinists and welders, for them.
"There are a lot of our positions that don't require a college degree. You can make a pretty good living," he said.
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