For the past several years, October has been proclaimed Manufacturing Month by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). To help promote their mission to change the outdated perceptions of American Manufacturing, NAM has encouraged manufactures all over the country to open their doors, hosting tours and events for community members of all ages. While it is targeted as the first Friday in October, we like to say, “Every day is Manufacturing Day for Precision Plus.” Manufacturing Day occurs on the first Friday in October, but we hosted our event on Saturday, October 7th, so that a greater number of community members would be able to attend. However, we also had the opportunity to welcome two local schools on October 6th. When these schools had asked if they could bring students and faculty on the actual Manufacturing Day, we couldn’t say no and were pleased to have 60 of them tour our facility. We’ll take every opportunity to help promote American manufacturing.
While the weather was less than cooperative on that Saturday, over 130 neighbors, friends, and even friendly competitors joined us for the tour, conversation, and food. By having our event on a Saturday, our team could reach as many community members as possible, particularly families with students interested in exploring what advanced manufacturing looks like today and the opportunities that exist for young adults weighing career path choices. Saturdays allow both parents and students to join us, and it was great to see so many families come through. Everyone that came was greeted with an overview of what we do, which industries we handle, and the importance of what we do. Our engaged staff led the floor tours with stops along the way to meet our professional team, eager to share the great things they are doing. Each talked about the state-of-the-art equipment, the skills necessary to be successful, and the career paths that brought them to Precision Plus.
After the tour, guests had the opportunity to speak with our Human Resources team if they were interested in employment or Youth Apprentice opportunities. Additionally, we were happy to host representatives from Project Lead the Way (PLTW), Gateway Technical College (GTC) and the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The representatives from these organizations helped demonstrate the different educational paths to a rewarding career in manufacturing. Some may choose a youth apprentice program or summer internship while still in high school, followed by a direct path into a full- time job after graduation. “EARN while you LEARN,” as I say. Others may opt for a two-year program at a technical college like GTC, or even a 2+2 program starting at the technical college, followed by an advanced degree at a university like MSOE, through their articulation agreement. Or for those eager for a challenge, you can pursue the full 4-year program at an engineering school. We are grateful that our education partners joined us, making themselves available to our guests wanting to learn more about each educational path, as well as the rewards each offers.
Our Manufacturing Day event was a success and sure kept us busy that day! We had a steady stream of wonderful community members throughout the day, and I spoke with nearly all of them. We received some great feedback, and they all were amazed with the technology and what we can do with it. However, the greatest satisfaction came from the many wonderful comments about our team! Our guests recognized the enthusiasm, knowledge, and eagerness to share the beauty of their craft. Without our team, we are nothing but a building filled with machines. The people make the magic, and I could not be prouder of the team we have here. Thank you to all of you who pitched in to make this our most successful event yet. It truly is a team effort.
While our Manufacturing Day Open House was the highlight of our month, we had so much more going on and many reasons to celebrate. Earlier in the month, I had been honored to speak at a luncheon honoring GTC President (and good friend) Dr. Bryan Albrecht, as he was recognized by the Three Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America with the Distinguished Citizen Award. Being asked to participate in this was inspiring and humbling. Bryan’s daughter made a wonderful, heartfelt presentation and Snap-On Tools CEO Nick Pinchuk closed out the session with a tribute to Bryan and a lesson in public speaking. If you have not heard Nick speak, look him up on YouTube, he is a master storyteller, an advocate for American Manufacturing, and a promoter of the dignity of work.
On Thursday the 5th, I was in Washington, D.C., with Matthew Janisin from GTC, to present at a congressional hearing at the Capital on business and education partnerships. The briefing was sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), representing over 1,200 community colleges across America. GTC was one of just three community colleges from across America to be asked to present. It was a tremendous experience for me to join, as we shared the importance of such partnerships and what that can mean to communities.
The day after our open house, three of our team members flew to a software conference to learn about the latest updates on the software we use to run our business and network with fellow users from across the country. While they attended the software conference, I was boarding a flight to Connecticut to join Bernie Nagle, Executive Director of our trade association, for my first such trip, visiting our members and promoting the value of our association. We were welcomed by seven other member companies who hosted us for plant tours, as well as discussions of the business climate and the biggest challenge we all face: workforce development. We wrapped up our visits Thursday with a group meeting, hosted at Yarde Metals headquarters in Southington, Connecticut. Let me tell you, this is not your typical metal service center. The people and culture of service is apparent. My sincere thanks to them for hosting us. Oh, by the way, we had our ISO surveillance audit while we were all out of town, and the team back at the shop represented us well. Thank you to Bill Wells and the entire team for making it happen.
The MSOE scholarship luncheon was held October 16th in Milwaukee, where I presented the keynote speech. I was honored to present, just as it is always an honor to partner with such a fine school. The student body, faculty, and administration are second to none. MSOE is truly one of the hidden gems in southeastern Wisconsin. I am grateful for our partnership and happy we can help sponsor three great young adults and future leaders attending classes there this year.
On Monday the 23rd, I was happy to be in attendance as MSOE announced the single largest gift to the university ever, from alumnus Dwight Diercks ‘90 and his wife Dian. Their generous $34 million donation makes possible a new facility, housing the Computational Science program and all that comes with it. The project is set for groundbreaking in early- to mid-2018. http://www.msoe.edu/about-msoe/2017/10/23/34-million-gift-to-transform-msoe-into-national-leader-in-artificial-intelligence-and-computational-science-education/
Following this historic announcement, I attended the MSOE annual meeting – my first – as I transitioned from the Corporate Board to the Board of Regents. A review of the MSOE boards will show they are filled with active community members and the who’s who of Wisconsin’s manufacturing executives. It is a real privilege, and I am humbled to serve with such a distinguished group of community and educational leaders. Through this partnership with MSOE, we will continue to promote career exploration opportunities for young adults and emphasize the importance of education for the purpose of starting a career, not just earning a diploma.
The PMPA Annual Meeting was scheduled for October 26 – 30 in Napa, California, but it had to move at the last minute to San Francisco due to the devastating fires. While there, I attended board meetings and listened to several industry presentations designed to help our membership outperform our industry peers. Part of this program was a piece on Workforce Development – the single greatest challenge to our industry success going forward. During this program, GTC President and PMPA Education Foundation Board member Dr. Bryan Albrecht, presented his experiences to the group. He first shared with the 160+ attendees from across North America, the partnership forged with Precision Plus and how that can be the model for other companies and schools to consider. He then moderated a panel discussion of what member companies had successfully implemented to attract, develop, and retain talent in their communities. Next, PMPA Workforce Development Manager, Sterling Gill III, presented the newly-launched PMPA-MFG training program. This is our trade association’s response to the overwhelming concerns from our membership on finding the next generation of manufacturing professionals and training them to be the very best as we all compete in this global economy. https://mfg-training.com/overview/
Manufacturing Month also kept our Director of Education and Training, Mark Beilman, actively engaged during October. Mark attended four career fairs, participated in two advisory committees, gave two presentations, and hosted five school tours at Precision Plus. With all this activity and his interactions at the high school and technical college levels, we estimate that he inspired more than 750 people during Manufacturing Month to seriously consider a career in manufacturing. Thank you, Mark, for all that you do when it comes to our company and our industry.
When I arrived home, the night of Sunday, October 29th, I could not help but think how grateful I was to have October almost behind me. It was a month filled with activity, both inside and outside the building, but all of it focused on manufacturing and how we develop the next generation of industry professionals. I cannot thank my team enough for all the great work they did in preparation of our open house and for hosting all our guests on Manufacturing Day. Even with all the extra effort put into these events, they managed to get a lot of product out the door for our customers, making October our second highest shipping month ever! Together with our customer/partners, we are on track to make 2017 our best sales year ever. A huge THANK YOU to everyone for making this happen.
November will be internally focused, as we work on realigning our organizational chart, reviewing our strategic plan, and recognizing our outstanding team members. Stay tuned for what will be an exciting update next month.
Mike Reader, President