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Third Annual Manufacturing Career Panel at Elkhorn Area High School on February 18, 2015, Draws a Large Crowd of Students

Michael Reader

For the third year in a row, Precision Plus in partnership with Elkhorn Area High School, presented a Manufacturing Career Panel to more than a hundred high school students from several area schools.

The event, which took place on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at Elkhorn Area High School was organized to explain to students what 21st century advanced manufacturing is and how it has changed over the last decades, to dispel old manufacturing myths, to talk about manufacturing career opportunities, and exciting educational opportunities available for students in the area.

The program was moderated by Mike Reader, President and Owner of Precision Plus, and by Barry Butters, the company’s Director of Education and Training. A shout-out was given to JoAnne Pella, Career Advisor of Elkhorn Area High School, for her contribution and dedication to make the panels possible.

The panelists were distinguished industry leaders Dennis Giesler, General Manager of Parker-Hannifin Quick Coupling Division, Dawn Tabat, COO of Generac, Geoff Martin, Principal and Senior Leader of GE Healthcare Partners, and Rick Lofy, Lean Six Sigma Instructor at Gateway Technical College. Click here to see their expanded bios.

All four panelists drew from their own experiences in manufacturing, sharing the broad spectrum of opportunities that exist within the industry at all levels. They all spoke about the next generation of advanced manufacturing professionals, and how they are looking at that generation, which included the students present, to carry the future. All speakers agreed that we live in an exciting time, when things are changing faster today than in the history of the world. And that these fast, dynamic, changing times require problem-solving, creative-thinking individuals who can move with the changes and have the ability to rapidly adapt and progress through collaboration and continuous improvement. Success now and in the future, they concluded, will be driven by the purpose, culture and passion of those individuals and companies who are committed to make a difference.

2015 Manufacturing Career Panel To Be Held on February 18 at Elkhorn Area High School

Michael Reader

The third annual Manufacturing Career Panel will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at Elkhorn Area High School. In partnership with Elkhorn Area H.S., Precision Plus will lead a panel of manufacturing experts who will talk to an audience of over 200 students from area high schools about bright and challenging manufacturing career possibilities. The event will take place from 1:00 to 2:35 p.m.

This year, four manufacturing industry leaders will participate as panelists, with Mike Reader of Precision Plus as  Master of Ceremonies. All four panelists have demonstrated their tenacious spirit to succeed and will share their experiences and insights with the students.

Dawn Tabat, Chief Operations Officer – Generac. Ms. Tabat, currently oversees manufacturing, logistics, global supply chain, quality, safety, information services and human resources. She began her career at Generac with a summer job on the assembly line. Tabat credits her corporate success to welcoming and making the best of opportunities as they presented themselves—a trait, which she strives to pay forward. With 2013 revenues of $1.5B, Generac Power Systems is a manufacturer of backup power generation products for residential, light commercial and industrial markets.

Geoff Martin, Principal and Senior Leader – GE Healthcare Partners; Service Line Leader for GE’s Hospital of the Future Solution. Mr. Martin leads implementation teams who provide transformational solutions for organizational redesign and governance enhancement of healthcare institutions. GE’s Solutions focuses on increasing access, decreasing costs, and improving quality in healthcare through a combination of consulting and technology.

Dennis Giesler, General Manager- Parker Hannifin’s Quick Coupling Division. Mr. Giesler has led the Quick Coupling Division—the world’s largest manufacturer of quick couplings–since 2008. The company also produces hydraulic and pneumatic couplings in a variety of sizes, materials, and end configurations to accommodate a broad spectrum of design requirements as well as offering hydraulic swivels, check valves and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.

Rick Lofy, Lean Six Sigma Instructor at Gateway Technical College, and Coordinator, CNC Summer Youth Boot Camp held at IMET Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Mr. Lofy will explain the boot camp program, and the benefits for students with regard to  skills and knowledge,  and work experience.  Additionally, he will address the boot camp’s expectations and hours.

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus  Mr. Reader who has presented on our first two panels and is the chief organizer of the event. He along with Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, have dedicated themselves to bringing the world of manufacturing to students of area schools through field trips, job shadows, internships, youth apprenticeships, and informational panels.

This event attracts high-caliber students who are up for the challenge offered in today’s high-tech manufacturing arena. Fourteen high schools have been invited to participate:

  • Badger High School (Lake Geneva, WI)
  • Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)
  • Big Foot High School (Walworth, WI)
  • Burlington High School (Burlington, WI)
  • Delavan Darien High School (Delavan, WI)
  • East Troy High School (East Troy, WI)
  • Faith Christian School (Williams Bay, WI)
  • Richmond Burton High School (Richmond, IL)
  • Union Grove High School (Union Grove, WI)
  • Waterford High School (Waterford, WI)
  • Westosha Central High School (Salem, WI)
  • Whitewater High School (Whitewater, WI)
  • Williams Bay High School (Williams Bay, WI)
  • Wilmot High School (Wilmot, WI)

For more information about the event, please contact Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus via phone or email.

Manufacturing helps to drive Wisconsin’s economy as a top contributor to the state’s real GDP ($50 billion in total output in 2013) and by employing16 percent (465,000) of the state’s workforce. While manufacturing was hit by the recent recession, it is making a fast-paced recovery. Reports indicate that the sector has recovered at least half of its jobs initially lost in the downturn, with the latest economic forecasts predicting continued employment growth and recovery into 2016. Manufacturing is expected to add nearly 19,000 jobs by 2020 (Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin).  Many of these jobs will require skills to support the technologically evolving and lean operations of manufacturing companies.

Manufacturing in Wisconsin will continue to be a prime source of employment as we have more workers in this career field than any other state. In addition, the manufacturing sector provides some of the best-paying non-managerial jobs, particularly for those with less than a 4-year college degree.

To view recaps of previous events, please click on the year: 20132014

180 High School Students Attend the First Manufacturing Career Panel Discussion at Elkhorn Area High School in Wisconsin

Michael Reader

Despite an 8” snow fall, on February 27, 2013 180 high school students from Elkhorn, Lake Geneva and William’s Bay gathered at Elkhorn Area High School’s  Wehner Auditorium to listen to a panel of manufacturing professionals discuss the vast possibilities available today in the world of hi-tech manufacturing.  The program was entitled “Elkhorn Area High School – Manufacturing Career Panel.”

This manufacturing awareness initiative began in late July of 2012, when 40 business representatives from Walworth County—most of them manufacturers—met to discuss the skills gap and the increasing demand for skilled manufacturing professionals.   The vision was clear: to strive for the collaboration of businesses, the academic world and legislators in order to validate the impact that the manufacturing sector (or its absence) has on the overall economy of the state and the country.  Additionally, the group agreed to foster initiatives aimed to bring up a new crop of world-class manufacturers through relevant education.   The mission was also clear:  to make the vision happen, and to dispel the current stigma hovering over the notion of pursuing a career in manufacturing.

“The real world of 21st Century manufacturing is totally different than its mid-century predecessor,” comments Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus   “Today, manufacturing is the engine behind every “Top-Gun” pilot’s aircraft, the tools behind every surgeon’s life or death decision, the technique behind every tractor reaping the best of the crop, and even the reality that made the Mars Rover Mission possible. “

“Today’s manufacturing industry is not looking for unskilled workers, but instead, is looking for the cream of the crop,” adds Mike Reader, “Only 3 out of 100 candidates makes the cut. The manufacturing industry needs people who will make James Bond succeed and we’re willing to train them on the job and pay them a salary comparable or even greater than any college graduate.  But they have to have the drive and the will.”

Late in 2012, Precision Plus invited twenty-four area educators to tour its facilities in Elkhorn, WI and to discuss the manufacturing possibilities available for high school graduates in the area. The exchange resulted in the implementation of a program aimed to educate high school students about the reality of a future in manufacturing.  Under the diligent leadership of EAHS’s Career and Technical Education Coordinator JoAnne Pella and the support and endorsement of Principal Tina Bosworth, a Manufacturing Career Panel was organized for February 27, 2013.

The event was formatted as a panel discussion.  The manufacturing professionals panelists were Dan Murphy,  Regional Sales Manager at Rem Sales, LLC; Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries; John Murphy, President of Morris Midwest, LLC; Olaf Tessarzyk, Managing Partner of ZPS America, LLC, and Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus  For one and a half hours, the panelists and students engaged in a genuine discussion about the state of the industry and the possibilities manufacturing has available for young people finishing high school.

It was pointed out by the panelists, that the marked difference between a regular college education vs. a technical college education and/or on-the-the-job training was the opportunity to have real-work experience rather than strictly classroom instruction.  A person learning and experiencing the art and science of machining,  may continue on as business owner, as a program developer, design engineer, quality control engineer, management leader or sales professional, to name a few, and have the real-life experience to understand how to transform ideas into reality.  The machining industry opens the doors to limitless possibilities, offering rewarding careers to “Top Gun” candidates, both men and women.

Following the panel discussion, several tours have been scheduled for students to visit area manufacturers.  The next phase in the manufacturing awareness program is to develop internships for high school and college students, to coordinate learning opportunities with local technical colleges and to seek increased support of  local, state and national legislators.