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Shattering Records: Creators Wanted Has a Big Impact in Michigan

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A record breaker. That’s the best way to describe the all-time high attendance rates, email subscriber numbers and other signs of surging interest in manufacturing careers brought about by the Creators Wanted Tour stop at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Michigan, last week.

Family first: The nationwide tour, a joint initiative of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, marked its 10th stop July 13–16. This stop’s overarching theme: family, according to Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Jim Fitterling.

  • Dow sponsored the golf invitational, the first LPGA event to achieve carbon neutrality, as well as the four-day Creators Wanted event. The company also recently more than doubled its commitment to the Creators Wanted campaign, to $2 million.
  • “You’ll see many, many families out here,” Fitterling told the audience at the tour stop’s kickoff event. “The reason we’ve got the family focus here is that it’s not just about students; it’s also about parents. An awful lot of students say that they won’t consider going into manufacturing because they aren’t encouraged by their parents to go into that field.”

Shifting perceptions: One of the reasons that recent generations of parents haven’t encouraged their children to go into manufacturing? Misconceptions, explained Fitterling. But those are starting to change, he and other kickoff-event panelists said.

  • “Sometimes [parents and students] have perceptions about manufacturing that just aren’t current,” Fitterling said. “Creators Wanted is about … [giving] them a hands-on experience to show them what’s going on in advanced manufacturing today.”
  • MI President Carolyn Lee cited MI–Deloitte survey data showing significant recent growth in the percentage of parents who say they would encourage their children to enter manufacturing: 40%, up from 27% in 2017. “The good news is we are already making a dent on change,” Lee said.

Just plain fun: For many of the attendees at last week’s Midland tour stop, “racing to the future” in the Creators Wanted immersive experience/high-tech escape rooms, meeting creators at Dow, getting career coaching tips from FactoryFix, learning about opportunities in Michigan with the Michigan Manufacturers Association and participating in all the other family-friendly events was as much about having a good time as considering a new career path.

  • “Having to use teamwork to exit the escape room and things like that, I find it really interesting,” said one student participant. “I take away that I could … have a career in manufacturing.”
  • In addition to the immersive experience, there were activities and games in the STEM Center, where “kids, students and parents or other supervising adults [could] see how STEM relates to not only sports but other technologies that can help us ‘imagine better,’” such as 3D printing, said NAM Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas.
  • The next generation of manufacturers were also welcomed to take part in “Friction Hockey” and “Binary Bits” experiments, which let them see how surface friction affects object movement and translate computer code into phrases using LEGO blocks, respectively.
  • There was also a fully stocked “Kid Zone” with miniature golf and a giant mural to which kids were encouraged to add their own artwork, as well as a “First Tee Junior Clinic,” hosted by the nonprofit First Tee, which aims to teach children life skills through golf.

Women in manufacturing: Midland was also the site of an important announcement from Lee during a fireside chat with Dow Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering John Sampson: Dow will provide a $500,000 grant over four years to support the MI’s Women MAKE America’s 35×30 campaign.

  • The campaign’s goal: to increase the representation of women in the manufacturing workforce to 35% by 2030.

Major impact: The Dow GLBI tour stop generated a lot of interest.

  • More than 47,000 email subscribers from Michigan signed up to learn more about modern manufacturing careers.
  • More than 1,550 students, parents and/or attending adults went through the immersive experience.
  • Ninety-six percent of surveyed immersive-experience participants reported an improved view of modern manufacturing, and 72% of respondents who had previously described manufacturing as “dirty,” “dangerous,” “old-fashioned,” “part of the past” or “traditional” described manufacturing as “modern,” “innovative,” “high tech” or “creative” in the latest survey.

Just some of the mentions: Many media outlets covered the event, including the following:

The last word: The Creators Wanted mobile experience encapsulates what modern manufacturing is all about, said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who toured it along with Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud.

  • The experience “showcased … new styles of recruiting & making the safety, inclusion, creativity & technology the new normal,” Nessel tweeted. “The Creators Wanted interactive experience was so cool!”

Watch now! See a video of tour-stop highlights here.

Workforce

Husco Provides Jobs to Afghan Refugees

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For Jason Schuetz, Husco’s vice president of global operations and advanced manufacturing, what started out as meeting a business need at his company has turned into something profoundly more fulfilling.

How it all started: The Waukesha, Wisconsin–based company, which specializes in hydraulic and electromechanical control systems, had open positions that needed to be filled—a challenge that many manufacturers face daily.

  • “We were struggling for a long time to fill the positions that we had open. And we knew that if we continued to think in conventional ways, we would get conventional output and that was not much,” said Schuetz.
  • “We were short a number of direct hire positions, similar to a lot of places in the area,” added Husco Director of Operations Mark Dreikosen. “We were looking for creative solutions to fill our staffing needs.”

An opportunity knocks: After months of minimal results in the hiring search, an opportunity was brought to Husco through Lutheran Social Services to help provide jobs for Afghan refugees who fled from the Taliban and relocated in Waukesha.

  • After many internal conversations and external meetings with Lutheran Social Services and Manpower International, a global workforce solutions company, Husco moved forward in March.
  • The result? Over the past several months, Husco has hired and welcomed 33 Afghan refugees.
  • “It was needs based, really, for Husco,” said Dreikosen. “Fortunately for us, it wasn’t the first time we’ve done something like this. We’ve helped support groups who have emigrated from Myanmar, formerly Burma, under similar context where there’s political unrest.”

Adapting to change: Schuetz said that 2016 experience helped Husco prepare for some of the challenges the company faced with regard to documentation, language and some cultural differences, but new challenges surfaced as well.

  • Schuetz said that being very fresh to the U.S. workforce, the refugees needed to be taught what the “professional expectations were in the U.S.”
  • Work instructions needed to be translated into Pashto and reformatted to accommodate reading from right to left rather than left to right.
  • “None of the individuals had licenses or had a means of getting to work,” said Schuetz. “So, we needed to quickly lean on and partner with Manpower—who has been vital in this—to help find and set up transportation.”
  • To accommodate religious needs, Husco set up multi-faith meditation spaces so the new employees can pray throughout the day. In addition, for a facility-wide event during Ramadan, the company catered appropriate food so individuals could still participate and be part of the team while practicing their religious obligations.

Breaking the language barrier: To help the refugees’ English-speaking skills, Husco ensures there are translators available on every shift.

  • Two employees, Hamza Jebran and Baitullah Jan—Afghan refugees themselves who studied English—serve as translators for their new colleagues. (Click here to watch an interview with Jebran.)
  • “Another of our employees, Habib, couldn’t speak a word of English when we first met him a few months ago, and now we can have a conversation with him,” said Dreikosen. “Sometimes we will have one of our employees come up during a shift meeting and teach the rest of the crew some Pashto as they’re trying to learn some English and share their culture at the same time. It’s really cool to see.”

Eager to learn: For Dreikosen, the refugees’ motivation and eagerness to learn transcend the language and other cultural differences.

  • “They’re as driven and motivated as any other employee who comes through Husco’s doors—and we caught on to that very quickly,” he said. “Their drive for success, given their situation, and how important it is to have a home and to feel welcomed, it’s inspiring.”

Strong foundation: Schuetz says that what has made Husco’s refugee program a success is the company’s strong foundation with its current employees.

  • “It’s been successful for us because we have always made it a point to treat our people fairly and with respect,” he said. “The refugees have been welcomed by their fellow employees because they know that we treat everyone this way, and we would help anyone. There are many challenges, but this team decided they were going to make this work, and every obstacle that they encountered, they knocked it down and moved the ball forward.”
  • The support from Husco has made the program a success: “It starts with our supervisors, our quality engineers, our technicians—they’re all in. They know there’s going to be bumps along the way, but they’ve bought in and know that this is the right thing to do,” said Dreikosen.
  • Dreikosen notes that Husco is now receiving more referrals and inquiries from job seekers of all sorts of backgrounds. They’ve heard about the good the company does and how welcoming it is, and that attention has made the company more attractive in the eyes of job seekers.

The last word: “When this opportunity was brought to us through Lutheran Social Services, we grabbed onto it tightly and realized that with the challenges that we were going to encounter day to day, the end game was so much greater,” said Schuetz. “It’s been rewarding in so many ways.”

What the NAM says: “With more than 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing, we need to attract and hire from the widest talent pool possible,” said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. “When manufacturers hire refugees, they see fewer turnovers and increased efficiencies, and at the same time, they’re helping improve the lives of refugees, their families and communities. Increasing diversity in the talent pool and developing more inclusive workplaces strengthens the competitive advantage of our industry and our workforce.”

Policy and Legal

SEC Proposes New Shareholder Rule

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a new rule that could undermine key reforms the NAM secured in 2020—and empower activist shareholders.

The background: Shareholders in public companies generally have the right to submit proposals to corporate proxy ballots.

  • These proposals, which voice shareholders’ views on business and governance topics relevant to the company, can then receive a vote by the full shareholder base.
  • To qualify for inclusion on the ballot, shareholder proposals must meet certain criteria.

Submission thresholds: In 2020, the NAM supported—and the SEC finalized—new thresholds to make it more difficult for activist shareholders to place politically motivated proposals on the proxy ballot.

  • These thresholds require higher degrees of ownership and shareholder support before a proposal can be submitted or resubmitted.

The new rule: The SEC’s proposal leaves the 2020 thresholds in place, but it creates other opportunities for activists and limits the tools companies can use to prevent them from hijacking the proxy ballot.

  • Currently, companies can exclude shareholder proposals that have already been substantially implemented, are duplicative of other proposals on the proxy ballot or are resubmissions of previous failed proposals. Each of these abilities would be limited significantly under the proposed rule.
  • For example, rather than being allowed to exclude all duplicative proposals, companies would only be permitted to exclude virtually identical proposals that address the same subject matter, seek the same objective and do so by the same means.

What we’re saying: “The NAM is concerned that the SEC’s proposed rule may prioritize the agendas of activists over the needs of long-term shareholders investing for the future,” said NAM Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain.

  • “We look forward to working with the SEC in the coming months to ensure that manufacturers’ shareholder engagement can continue to focus on issues critical to business growth and investor returns.”

Next steps: Comments on the proposed rule are due to the SEC by Sept. 12.

Policy and Legal

NAM Fights Back Against SEC About-Face

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As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission turns its back on a bipartisan agreement on proxy advisory firms, the NAM is taking action.

The background: In 2020, the NAM supported—and the SEC finalized—a major rule to increase oversight and transparency with regard to proxy advisory firms. These unregulated and unaccountable entities influence publicly traded companies by recommending how institutional asset managers should vote in corporate proxy contests.

  • Since last January, the SEC’s new leadership has taken steps to undermine and reverse the 2020 rule. The NAM has filed suit against the SEC for refusing to enforce the 2020 rule, called on the agency to provide “reliable rules of the road” and opposed a proposed rule to reduce proxy firm oversight.

The new rule: Yesterday, the SEC released a final rule that rescinds many of the critical reforms the NAM secured in 2020. Specifically, the new rule removes requirements for proxy firms to engage with impacted companies and their shareholders, and it weakens the 2020 rule’s anti-fraud provisions.

Arbitrary and capricious: The SEC is making these substantial changes absent any new evidence—because the 2020 rule was never allowed to take effect. It has also failed to articulate a satisfactory policy justification. Federal agencies are prohibited from issuing regulations that are “arbitrary and capricious”—an easy descriptor for the SEC’s actions given the agency’s abrupt and unjustified about-face.

NAM in action: The NAM announced yesterday that it plans to file suit against the SEC to preserve the 2020 rule. It will argue that the SEC’s decision to change course without allowing the 2020 rule to take effect and be fairly evaluated epitomizes arbitrary and capricious rulemaking.

What we’re saying: “The SEC has offered no justification for abandoning a decade’s worth of bipartisan, consensus-driven policymaking,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “This move will undoubtedly harm the competitiveness of publicly traded manufacturers, and it will hurt Main Street investors.”

Policy and Legal

Why Nuclear is Key to Climate & Energy Security

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As energy prices remain at their highest levels in more than a decade, there’s little sign that the U.S. is on a steady course toward energy security. That’s why the NAM is urging the federal government to pursue all available options—including nuclear.

The lowdown: Nuclear energy is a safe, reliable and the largest zero-emission source of energy in the U.S.

  • At a time of pronounced supply chain challenges, oil-and-gas lease cancellations and costly shortages of critical minerals, nuclear energy could go a long way toward fortifying the grid.
  • In addition, the technology has advanced enormously in recent years. Microreactors, small enough to be moved by truck, are poised to help solve the challenge of powering remote areas.
  • The Department of Energy also recognizes the importance of nuclear energy, recently noting its relevance to energy security in the department’s Supply Chain Assessments.

What we’re saying: “The reality is that to meet our growing electricity needs and climate goals, nuclear-generated power must be part of the solution,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris. Here are his key policy recommendations:

  • Encourage capital formation: The NAM secured a significant $6 billion investment in the Civilian Nuclear Credit Program through the recent infrastructure bill, but more robust investments will be needed to ensure operations continue at current nuclear projects, Morris said.
  • Relicensing: Licensing and permitting processes should meet the highest standards, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission often takes years to complete them. The NRC should use its position on the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council to make efficiency improvements in its licensing processes under the recently announced Permitting Action Plan.
  • Fuel supply chain security: The U.S. imports uranium for civilian nuclear use from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Canada and Australia, among others. Meanwhile, new advanced reactor concepts will utilize high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) which is now solely produced by Russia and China. The NAM has been calling on policymakers to prioritize increasing domestic production.
  • SMRs and microreactors: Small modular reactors use factory-built components to streamline construction, while microreactors are portable and self-sufficient. Both will be crucial for next-generation nuclear power—but the U.S. government must invest in their manufacturing and modernize regulations accordingly.
  • Spent fuels: The NAM has long supported ongoing R&D into the storage and transportation of spent fuels—and progress is being made. Just yesterday, NRC staff recommended licensing a new storage project in New Mexico, “determining there would be largely minor environmental impacts from the project,” according to POLITICO (subscription).
  • Public perception: Commercial nuclear power is sometimes viewed as dangerous or unstable based on historic misconceptions. In truth, the U.S. nuclear industry is leading the world in best practices, safety and accountability. Policymakers must engage with local communities to provide the facts and emphasize the importance of nuclear power for combating climate change.

The last word: “Our current fleet and the next generation of nuclear power must be a substantial part of a clear-eyed strategy to address climate and energy security,” Morris said.

Workforce

“It Is the Future”: Creators Wanted Arrives in Midland, Michigan

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The Creators Wanted Tour marked several milestones yesterday, as it kicked off its 10th stop on its cross-country trek and first-ever appearance at a major golf tournament.

In the swing of things: With generous support from Dow, the Creators Wanted Tour—a joint initiative of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute—arrived in Midland, Michigan, this week for the LPGA Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

  • The tour’s goal: to educate and excite students, parents, teachers and other mentors across the country about careers in modern manufacturing—in part with trips through an immersive series of “escape rooms” where participants get hands-on with advanced manufacturing, learn about the creative skills at work in the industry and have fun solving riddles and puzzles that unpack key information about manufacturing careers.
  • Dow recently announced that it is doubling its initial Creators Wanted campaign commitment to $2 million, which will help ensure continued tour stops and more outreach to the next generation of manufacturers.

Competitors needed: For the U.S. to remain competitive on the world stage, its manufacturing sector requires willing, dedicated talent, Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Jim Fitterling told the audience at the tour stop’s kickoff event on Wednesday. Fitterling joined representatives from the NAM, the MI and the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

  • “The competitiveness of America’s workforce is critical,” Fitterling said. “If we want those supply chains back here, it isn’t a labor cost issue. It’s really [about] skills, and it’s also [about worker] interest.”
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association President and CEO John Walsh agreed, saying, “The number-one concern in every single company across the entire state in every single industry is personnel—getting people who are interested in manufacturing to come work and stay and move forward.”
  • The industry has averaged 800,000 job openings every month for more than a year, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons noted.
  • That could spell trouble for the economy as a whole, said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee: “By the end of 2030, if we don’t fill these jobs, it could be a $1 trillion loss in GDP for the U.S.”

Not your grandparents’ manufacturing: The speakers pointed out that manufacturers must counteract the outdated and erroneous perceptions about their industry.

  • “An awful lot of students say that they won’t consider going into manufacturing because they aren’t encouraged by their parents to go into that field,” Fitterling said. “And sometimes they have perceptions about manufacturing that just aren’t current and aren’t modern. Creators Wanted is about … [giving] them a hands-on experience to show them what’s going on in advanced manufacturing today. This is a world that’s very digital. … There are all kinds of new technologies being used.”
  • One of the Creators Wanted Tour’s measurable goals by 2025 is “to change the perception for parents from 27% [favorability regarding manufacturing], where we began just a couple years ago, to 50%,” Lee said.

BAs not required: Manufacturing also offers career paths that don’t require a college degree, the speakers noted—another potential advantage that young people should know.

  • “There’s an alternative to college,” Fitterling said. “College is wonderful. And for those who wish to pursue that, they should, but there are students who might want to make something with their hands.”
  • Timmons recounted how his own father, who worked in the retail industry, was determined that Timmons attend college. “He said, ‘I want you to pursue a different type of career,’” Timmons said. “[But] I think we’ve gone full circle. And I think we realize now that today the manufacturing industry is the future. It is the future that everybody wants for their children.”

The last say: Careers that start on factory floors in manufacturing facilities can lead to leadership roles, Fitterling reminded the audience.

  • “Many generations of people in manufacturing [at Dow] have had great careers, and some have even gone on to lead companies out of that background,” he said. “We want to show students what’s possible and make sure that we use this [Creators Wanted] platform to get that message out and have the impact that we want to have throughout the United States.”

Related: Earlier in the day at a Success, Opportunity, Acceleration and Resilience (SOAR) event, during a fireside chat with Dow Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering John Sampson and in front of a packed crowd, Lee announced that Dow is providing a $500,000 grant over four years to support the MI’s Women MAKE America’s 35×30 campaign. The campaign aims to see women represent 35% of the manufacturing workforce by 2030.

Coming up next: The Creators Wanted Tour will come to several cities, including Columbia, South Carolina, Chicago and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in fall 2022.

Workforce

“You’re Your Own Limit”: Andrea Tucker Talks Success at Smithfield Foods

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If you want to be like Andrea Tucker, just ask her how she got to where she is today—she’ll happily help you plot a path to professional success like hers.

Rising to the top: Tucker is a complex plant manager at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, North Carolina, the largest pork-processing plant in the world. But she didn’t begin there, and she wants other Smithfield employees to know it.

  • “I started as an hourly employee on third shift, and now I’m running the plant,” said Tucker, a 2019 honoree of The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards (now the Women MAKE America Awards). “If you want to be me, let’s put a plan together and work toward it. At Smithfield, if you put in the work, it gets noticed.”

Manufacturing from the start: Tucker, a Georgia native, grew up on a small tobacco farm. In 2000, a lifetime affinity for numbers, process and mathematics led her to answer an ad seeking an accounting inventory clerk at Smithfield.

  • “For me, working in manufacturing kind of closed the gap of what happens after things are grown or made or after animals are raised,” Tucker said. “A passion was ignited in me: [for] the process flows, the ‘people’ side of things and how things work. I could use my love of math and make and see real change. From that day on, I felt like I could do something that mattered.”

“You’re your own limit”: Since joining Smithfield, Tucker has worked in multiple positions across the meat-packing company’s accounting and operations teams. Along the way, she received encouragement from management, and that backing has led her to become a trusted mentor to other employees.

  • “[When I was an hourly worker], I was told, ‘You have a good grasp of how things work. You know how to motivate and inspire people. Have you thought of operations?’” Tucker recalled of her first career change within Smithfield. “Smithfield is a big advocate of ‘you’re your own limit.’ You’re not tied to one plant or position or department.”
  • At the company’s urging, after 12 years in Tar Heel, Tucker took a position at Smithfield’s Wilson, North Carolina, facility as plant manager.

Women in manufacturing: The move “inspired me to see results, not only in processes but in other people, primarily women,” Tucker said.

  • “For many [of the women at the facility], I was not only Andrea the manager but Andrea the counselor, Andrea the person I can talk to about this problem I’m having with my 13-year-old,” she said. “There were a lot of single moms.”
  • The success stories among this contingent are many, Tucker said. Here’s one: Tucker noticed that an employee, a young mother, was struggling personally—and she learned that the woman was at risk of losing custody of her children. “I said, ‘Look, I know you have three kids, and this is not the life you wanted. I need you to be able to be that responsible parent. Smithfield has an employee assistance program; let’s get you enrolled. If I get your commitment that you’re ready for change, I will make sure you stay that course.’”
  • The employee did. “She put forth the effort. She and her kids, they’re thriving. She’s even enrolled in one of our emerging leaders programs.”

Opportunities abound: Smithfield continues to create pathways to professional advancement for its employees. These include:

  • A tuition reimbursement program;
  • A mentorship program; and
  • Women’s Connect, a mentorship program specifically for women.

Continuing to inspire: Tucker came back to Tar Heel earlier this year, in another step upward within the company. When she was first offered her current job, Tucker—despite having coached so many employees successfully—wasn’t sure she would be able to do it.

  • “Then I told myself, ‘Think about all the stories where people said they never thought they could do more,’” she said. “It reminded me, ‘You reached out and touched so many people at Wilson, why are you not giving yourself the same opportunity in Tar Heel, back where you started?’”

The last word: Tucker has advice for those daunted by moving up the ladder at work. “At the end of the day, it’s just people,” she said. “You take it one day at a time, and you just try to touch the lives of as many people as you can.”

Business Operations

Manufacturers Support Health Insurance for Older Workers

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As the manufacturing industry continues to grow, manufacturers across the country are ensuring that older workers and company retirees have the support they need—including through health care options like Medicare Advantage.

What it is: Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare. They provide the same hospital and medical insurance as original Medicare, but with additional benefits—often including Part D prescription drug coverage, as well as vision, dental and hearing services. Medicare Advantage Plans also include a maximum out-of-pocket spending limit to offer additional protection.

  • Medicare Advantage beneficiaries spend 40% less annually than those enrolled in Medicare Fee-for-Service, while also experiencing a 43% lower rate of avoidable hospitalizations for preventable complications, according to UnitedHealth Group.
  • Employers have been able to take advantage of this health care model for retirees by offering what is known as Employer Group Waiver Plans.

Why it matters: Attracting and retaining a quality workforce is one of the most important challenges facing the manufacturing industry, especially as the industry confronts a labor shortage. Affordable and competitive health care benefits are one of many retention tools utilized by manufacturers.

  • In 2021, 25.6% of the manufacturing industry’s workforce were 55 or older, while 5.3% were over 65, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • According to the NAM’s latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 80.7% of manufacturers cited the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce as a primary business challenge.
  • The high-quality options provided by Medicare Advantage allow manufacturers to retain their older workers and keep them happy and healthy in their jobs.

What we’re saying: “Ninety-five percent of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits in 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while 99% of NAM members offer health benefits. Manufacturers are supportive of flexibility, expanding coverage options and enabling innovative models of care to maintain a healthy workforce and provide competitive benefits,” said NAM Director of Human Resources and Innovation Policy Julia Bogue.

For details on other ways manufacturers can retain older employees check out insights from the Manufacturing Institute and AARP here.

Business Operations

Manufacturing Leadership Council Recognizes Pfizer CEO

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The Manufacturing Leadership Council—a division of the NAM that helps manufacturers leverage digital transformation—named Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla the 2022 Manufacturing Leader of the Year at the 18th annual Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala.

The details: The ML Awards are the U.S. manufacturing industry’s biggest stage for recognizing excellence in digital manufacturing. Since the program’s founding in 2005, more than 1,000 high-performing projects and individual leaders have been honored with an award. Winners represent companies of varying sizes in a wide array of industries.

The big award: The Manufacturing Leader of the Year award was presented to Bourla for Pfizer’s extraordinary and ongoing contributions in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • “Manufacturing in America today is stronger thanks to the leadership of Dr. Bourla and his team at Pfizer, including our Executive Committee member Mike McDermott,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Albert and Mike’s passion and dedication to defeating COVID-19 set an example for thousands of companies as our industry navigated and responded to the evolving pandemic, and their leadership and innovation will make us better prepared to respond to the next crisis.”

Other honorees: Awards were given to companies that excelled in various categories of manufacturing, including Protolabs for collaborative ecosystems, AB InBev for digital network connectivity and operational excellence, Dow for digital supply chains, General Motors for engineering and production technology, Flex and Johnson & Johnson for enterprise integration technology, AUO Corporation for sustainability and ALOM Technologies for transformative cultures.

Manufacturers of the Year: Protolabs was named the Small/Medium Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year, and AB InBev was named the Large Enterprise Manufacturer of the Year.

The last word: “Manufacturers continue to be the driving force for global economic recovery and pandemic response as they establish innovative ways to problem-solve in an increasingly complex environment,” said MLC Co-Founder, Vice President and Executive Director David R. Brousell. “Those recognized tonight have helped establish a roadmap for the future of the sector and highlight the importance of Manufacturing 4.0.”

Workforce

Calling All Creators: Creators Wanted Live Arrives at Open Call 2022

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This week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live made its eighth national tour stop—at Walmart’s 9th annual open call for entrepreneurs and manufacturers.

Drawing a crowd: On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Creators Wanted mobile experience was onsite in Bentonville, Arkansas, as 1,100 small and medium-sized business owners pitched their products to Walmart and Sam’s Club for Walmart’s Open Call 2022. The ultimate prize for the business owners? A “gold ticket” to get their products into the stores.

  • The two-day Creators Wanted stop drew more than 2,000 people, many of whom jumped at the opportunity to solve puzzles and “race to the future” in the award-winning, immersive escape room.
  • In addition to Walmart, Chart Industries, a leading global manufacturer of highly engineered equipment servicing multiple applications in clean energy and industrial gas markets, helped bring the experience to Open Call attendees and the Bentonville community.
  • The tour, which aims to generate interest in and excitement about manufacturing careers, is a joint project of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner The Manufacturing Institute.

Committed to manufacturing: The aim of bringing Creators Wanted to this year’s Open Call was to bolster the positive perception of modern manufacturing careers, recruit new manufacturers and connect entrepreneurs and manufacturers with the MI’s workforce-shortage solutions.

  • Walmart has committed to spending $350 billion on products made, grown or assembled in the U.S., in addition to the $250 billion the company pledged in 2013 to spend on similar products.
  • Total estimated job growth from these investments: 750,000 new American positions by 2031.

Who was there: MI President Carolyn Lee and Vice President of Program Execution Herb Grant were on hand to give manufacturers greater insight into the MI’s growing set of solutions to the dearth of skilled manufacturing labor.

  • Also onsite was new Creators Wanted partner FactoryFix, whose team members helped attendee manufacturers source new talent for their businesses and taught job seekers how to build rewarding careers in the industry.

 The reaction: “Wherever we go with our Creators Wanted Tour—including here in Bentonville, Arkansas—students, parents, career mentors and even professionals in other industries see what manufacturing can mean and create for futures,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas. “It’s showing there’s dignity, a “cool” factor and massive reward in making things in the United States. Eyes light up.”

The reach: On the second day of the event, more than 3,000 students had already signed up online to learn more about modern manufacturing careers.

Up next: Coinciding with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on the LPGA tour, the Creators Wanted Tour Live will make its ninth stop in Midland, Michigan, July 13–16.

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