Manufacturing Day is a day to open doors and minds, as we celebrate the beauty of manufacturing here in the United States. And that we did on Saturday, October 20th, with our Annual Open House. The day started out as a cool, crisp, sunny Wisconsin fall morning, and over the course of the day we would see dropping temperatures, rain, and even snow pellets driven by 50+ mile per hour winds. In spite of the weather, we welcomed close to 200 friends, family members, and neighbors for a day of tours, technology, and talented team members.
Typically, MFG Day is celebrated on the first Friday of October. However, our national manufacturing trade association (PMPA) decided to host their annual meeting at the same time. As I needed to be at both, and could only move one, we decided to move the Precision Plus MFG Day event to October 20th. There is Manufacturing Day, within manufacturing month (October), but for us, every day is manufacturing day. Just ask my family.
October was another busy month for us, as we hosted four local high schools for tours over several days, in an addition to our Saturday event. Beloit Turner, Milton, Big Foot, and Delavan-Darien High Schools all took time to come visit us and learn more about manufacturing technology and career opportunities. Keep in mind that Manufacturing Month this year followed the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at McCormick Place in Chicago that had just been held in September. Many of the area students attended IMTS either on our sponsored buses, with the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) sponsored bus, or on the Gateway Technical College (GTC) buses. Following IMTS, the students and parents were excited to learn more about local career opportunities in manufacturing, so it was wonderful that we could keep that momentum going throughout October.
Manufacturing is about bringing together “Man, Material, Machine & Method” to make something, and while much of the buzz is about the technology used in manufacturing, the most important element in this equation is Man (and Woman). The Human element is still the most powerful, important, and I am disappointed to say, it is the element in shortest supply. This spells “opportunity” for anyone interested in exploring a manufacturing career, and nearly everyone I know in manufacturing across the country is starving for talent. For this reason, we have been focused on providing career exploration opportunities for the past six years.
Some of our guests were anxiously waiting for the doors to open at 9:00 am and were greeted by our welcoming team and “Bones,” the skeleton in the case with all kinds of life-changing orthopedic implants. “Bones” showcases the medical technology that is manufactured by many in our industry and is on loan to us from Morris Midwest, our partner/dealer for Tsugami, Swiss-style CNC lathes. After registration, the guests moved on to our training/staging area where they met more of our team members who were demonstrating CAD/CAM systems from Autodesk (Inventor 3D CAD and Partmaker CAM). They also had a chance to see the Subsea umbilical connect display on loan to us from our customer/partner, Parker Hannifin – Quick Coupling Division. This is the third year they have been kind enough to share their display pieces with us, and we are very grateful for their continued support. Another supplier/partner, Concept Machine Tools, provided us with several show pieces which demonstrate the capability of their 5-axis machining centers. The last stop in the staging area was a series of manufacturing-related videos playing on the big screen, including the one commissioned by our PMPA Education Foundation, “Change your Game”. You can watch this at https://changeyourgame.careers/.
As the guests left the training room, each was given a USB thumb drive preloaded with multiple videos and information about manufacturing careers. The first stop on the floor tour was the laser marking machine where they were provided the opportunity to personalize the thumb drive with whatever they wished. This has been, and continues to be, a very popular stop on the tours. After that, our guests had a chance to talk with our team members in multiple departments: inspection, parts cleaning, CNC Swiss, cam Swiss, CNC turret lathes, robotics and automation, and shipping. Over the course of the tour, our guests were able to witness many different parts being made. On three of the machines, we were producing parts for a spinning top that attendees assembled in our shipping department. This was our gift to participants for coming out to explore Precision Plus. After leaving the shipping department, guests moved to our receiving area where we provided souvenir t-shirts and other swag, as well as food and refreshments – a luncheon provided by our supplier/partner Rolled Alloys. This provided our guests an extended opportunity to speak with more of our team members and to ask any questions.
We are very proud of the education partnerships and ongoing engagement we have developed in the last several years. Elkhorn Area School District (EASD), Gateway Technical College (GTC), and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) are all wonderful partners. Special shout outs go to the extra special faculty members who stopped in: EASD instructors Jo Anne Pella, Barry Butters and Michael Thomas; GTC instructor Richard Shouse and President Dr. Bryan Albrecht; and MSOE’s Dr. Mary Spencer, who brought a number of MSOE students with her for the tour.
Our classic car show was mostly a bust due to the weather, but a few enthusiasts braved the not so good weather to bring out their toys. We will continue to include the car show at future events, weather permitting, as it demonstrates our passion for all things mechanical, and the ability to afford them with the earnings potential a manufacturing career provides.
As I look back at the event, I am proud of our team who worked so hard together to make this a success. As always, it is all about the people – without them, none of this is possible. We are blessed with a team filled with talent, passion, and a desire to make a difference. Some of the most inspiring comments from our guests mentioned how impressed they were of our people. I’ve included some of the great feedback below:
“Fantastic event that showcased opportunities in a trade that offers innovation, creativity, technology and teamwork/ownership. I’ve worked with many companies involved in manufacturing and similar lines of business. Precision Plus is at the top of the list as far as employee empowerment and attitude. I would highly recommend this company to anyone interested in a dynamic and innovative employer!”
“The Manufacturing Day Open House was a really eye-opening event for me as I got to see how and why, exactly, my Mechanics: Statics course is very important. The operation of the CNC machines was marvelous, and the tour guides were super friendly and helpful. I am really appreciative of the event. Thank you very much!”
“Precision Plus put on another AMAZING Manufacturing Day this year! I love how they spare no expense by opening up their doors, drawing in from area schools, and treating the community to a really fun, interactive manufacturing experience! Thank you for another great family activity that opens my children’s eyes to a world they rarely see and for your generosity in making sure our visit was complete with giveaways and lunch!”
“The employees were very knowledgeable about their departments and very passionate in their explanations. Their pride lent itself to a very pleasurable and informative tour. It’s no easy feat to be informative for adults while keeping your children thoroughly engaged.”
This is truly a remarkable time to be in manufacturing here in the United States. The economy is booming, unemployment is at near record low levels, talent is in high demand, and wages are on the rise. If you have not toured a manufacturing plant lately, I suggest you get out and ask for a tour from one of your community members.
Mike Reader, President