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“Manufacturing Is an Obvious Choice” for a Veteran

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Dan Mitchell didn’t expect to join the Army, which means he couldn’t have expected to translate his military experience into a career in manufacturing. But thanks to The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, that’s where he is now.

The son of Fish and Wildlife Service officials, Mitchell set his heart on the Army while a Boy Scout in high school. As he describes it, he entered West Point as “a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 17-year-old”—and faced a wake-up call. It wasn’t at all like the movies!

Instead, Mitchell learned that Army life involved doing a great number of small, important things effectively. He spent time in maintenance at industrial facilities, managing safety and operations, and tracking armored units and heavy vehicles. Whether he was keeping his room clean or doing inspections or ensuring the safety of weaponry, he learned that routines were vital. It was a lesson that would serve him well in his next career.

Heroes MAKE America: After eight years in the Army, Mitchell heard about the Heroes MAKE America program from some of the 145 soldiers under his command, and he quickly signed up.

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented his Heroes class from touring facilities—“I was excited for the Frito-Lay tour,” he says, “and that’ll stick in my craw for my entire life”—he calls his experience in the program “phenomenal.”
  • From general career support, such as help with building a LinkedIn profile and drafting a resume, to the “invaluable” Certified Production Technician course, Mitchell saw Heroes MAKE America as a vital program that offered him critical tools.
  • “It was eye-opening to see the level of skilled labor and craftmanship that’s involved in modern American manufacturing,” Mitchell says. “It spoke to me. I had no idea of the width and breadth of opportunities, or how interesting and dynamic and challenging the jobs are.”

A new job: As he begins his new role as a production supervisor at Daikin Applied Americas in Minnesota, Mitchell sees manufacturing as a natural fit. “What I did in the Army doesn’t directly translate to what I’m doing now, but it’s pretty darn close,” he says. “I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’d be way behind if I hadn’t gotten the Heroes training.”

Words of advice: “For anyone who has been a leader in the Army—as long as you’re willing to learn and put in the work—manufacturing is an obvious choice.”

Workforce

Three Diversity Chiefs Share Insights

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Manufacturers are looking to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive—but what steps should they take? Following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, many companies have supported the NAM’s own Pledge for Action, an agenda for advancing justice, equality and opportunity for Black people and all people of color.

As part of its Diversity and Inclusion pillar, The Manufacturing Institute has begun hosting roundtables, drawing on the expertise of D&I chiefs from across a wide range of companies. Below is a brief recap of a recent event.

The panel: Speakers included AAON Community Relations Director Stephanie Cameron, Dow Senior HR Director of Talent Acquisition/Pipelines and Corporate Director of Inclusion Alveda Williams and Trane Technologies Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Talent Management Michelle Murphy. Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee moderated the conversation.

The panelists focused on helping those who are just beginning this conversation as well as those who are working to accelerate their current efforts. A few of the suggestions included the following:

  • Don’t rely on programs. Williams noted that programs can be cancelled when budgets are cut or an unforeseen situation arises. Instead, manufacturers should find ways to make D&I a part of their identity, ensuring that their work in the area won’t be scaled back or discarded.
  • Emphasize inclusion. Inclusion drives innovation, productivity and team engagement, Cameron pointed out. While diversity can be considered a collection of unique differences, Williams added, you can’t capitalize on those differences unless you value inclusion. Achieving diversity is about the workforce, but inclusion is about the workplace, and creating a culture and environment that emphasizes a sense of belonging.
  • Embrace change. Murphy emphasized that companies must be agile and adaptable not only to keep up with workplace changes, but also to promote positivity and lead with their values.

The conversation also included some concrete practices and initiatives, including:

  • Companywide virtual conversations about issues like race, gender and LGBT inclusion to encourage learning and discussion;
  • Internal leadership development programs to ensure that diverse leaders have opportunities to move up within the company, which might include English and Spanish courses on-site; and
  • Employee resource groups and inclusion resource groups that bring forward ideas from diverse employees and allies to move the company forward.

The business case: Strengthening D&I isn’t just the right thing to do, participants said; it’s also the smart thing to do. Inclusion drives engagement, and engaged employees are more productive—making inclusive workplaces better for a business’s bottom line.

You can access a recording of the full conversation here.

Workforce

From Army Mechanic to Food Manufacturer

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Brittanee Sayer is the sixth of seven siblings who have served in branches of the military. Given her family’s example, she always knew she would serve her country. But what would come after that? The answer: manufacturing, thanks to training at The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program.

Her military experience proved useful to the career change. Sayer spent most of her seven years in the service working as a generator mechanic at Fort Riley. She was in charge of maintaining tactical, utility and precise power generation sets, internal combustion engines and associated equipment—a job that included running power for Fort Riley’s hospital. When she decided to leave the military, she wanted to keep employing these skills.

Heroes MAKE America: Prior to her Army service, Sayer had worked at Wolverine, which manufactures military boots—“I went from making the boots, to wearing the boots,” she says. Given her experience in the Army, she thought a return to the industry made sense, and that the training offered by the Heroes MAKE America program would help her advance further.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March required a few changes to ensure safety, but Sayer says the program adapted effectively. Adjustments included:

  • Online learning, with Skype meetings once per week to ensure students could still engage with the material together;
  • Smaller classroom meetings, with in-person tests offered to five people at a time; and
  • Digital networking opportunities to help students and graduates connect with companies seeking employees and learn from manufacturing leaders.

The new career: Recently, Sayer accepted an offer of employment at General Mills, and expects to start by the end of the month. She says the Heroes program helped get her resume in front of every possible employer. Since she graduated from the program in May, she’s received a range of job offers from across the United States.

The last word: “I tell all my friends still in the Army: if you can do the Heroes MAKE America program, do it,” says Sayer. “It’s a great opportunity, and it really does help.”

Workforce

CEO Gina Radke Talks Female Leadership—and Restroom Lines

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Who says longer lines for the women’s restroom are a good thing? Manufacturing CEO Gina Radke does. And here’s why—longer lines for the bathroom at manufacturing conferences would mean that more women worked in the industry, where they now only make up a third of the labor force.

Radke used to take photos of the bathroom doors at these conferences and post them to social media, highlighting the absence of other women in line. And if she has anything to say about it, those lines will be growing a lot longer.

The CEO of Galley Support Innovations, Radke likes to say that she got into manufacturing by mistake, and then learned it from the ground up.

  • When she and her husband bought the company—which specializes in interior hardware for aircraft—she thought she’d focus on the marketing side. But as she puts it, she fell in love with the process of turning raw materials into a finished product.
  • They moved the company from California to Arkansas, and soon, she had learned to run all the machines on the floor and immersed herself in every aspect of the business.

Along the way, she couldn’t help but notice that few other women had the same trajectory. Radke was often mistaken for an assistant and rarely encountered other women in leadership positions. She was determined to change that.

  • “If you can see it, you can be it”: Radke has worked to make herself more visible in the manufacturing world, as a role model for other women. The company even designed a calendar in which their female machinists posed as Rosie the Riveter.
  • STEP honoree: In 2019, she was a recipient of the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards—a national honor for accomplished women in the industry. Radke says the conference for honorees was the first time she had been around other women leaders in the industry. It made her feel a sense of relief and encouragement, and she resolved to step up her mentorship so more women would feel the same.
  • “I could write a book”: Inspired by her experience at the STEP conference, Radke wrote a book called “More Than.” In it, she offers guidance to both women and men, so they can achieve a more equitable workforce together.

And there’s more: Under Radke’s leadership, the company has been a pioneer in hiring formerly incarcerated individuals and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. It also created programs to train kids who age out of foster care, helping them transition into well-paying jobs.

The last word: “To women who haven’t considered manufacturing: consider it,” says Radke. “It’s a great field to be in. We need everything, so you get to be creative and process driven. And you have an opportunity to break stereotypes and shatter the status quo.”

Press Releases

NAM Survey: Manufacturers Face Major Headwinds, but Continue Operating in Support of COVID-19 Response

Despite Drop in Optimism and Worsening Business Conditions, Majority of Industry Keeping Doors Open

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers today released the results of the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2020 showing that despite a historic drop in optimism, to nearly 34%, and challenging business conditions, the vast majority of manufacturers (98.7%) have continued or only temporarily halted operations. The survey also shows that manufacturers are innovating to find solutions to keep businesses running and to protect workers and communities, with almost 22% retooling to produce personal protective equipment, 67% reengineering processes to reflect COVID-19 safety protocols and 12% completely reevaluating the mission of the firm.

Manufacturers have led the country through the COVID-19 response, and America is counting on our industry to lead our recovery and renewal, said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. While these numbers show that we’ve faced difficult circumstances and that there is a challenging road ahead, manufacturers have proven that with our grit, determination and patriotic spirit, we can overcome any challenge facing the nation. And in our ‘American Renewal Action Plan,’ the NAM has shown the way forward.

As policymakers and regulators debate solutions to help the economy recover from this pandemic, the NAM urges them to focus on the renewal agenda laid out in the “American Renewal Action Plan.” We have been encouraged by actions taken thus far, but there is still greater need for targeted liability reform, tax provisions to ensure investment in manufacturing and measures to reaffirm the U.S. supply chain to protect those businesses that continue to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 response to ensure as swift a recovery as possible.

The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey has surveyed the association’s membership of 14,000 large and small manufacturers on a quarterly basis since 1997 to gain insight into their economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions and business concerns. The NAM releases the results to the public each quarter. Further information on the survey is available here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.5 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Workforce

How a Foam Manufacturer Makes PPE Production Possible

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For most people, foam does not sound like a crucial part of the COVID-19 pandemic response effort—but it is. Adhesive-backed foam is used in making face shields and other personal protective gear for health care responders, and LAMATEK, Inc., a New Jersey-based manufacturer of flexible foam tapes, gaskets and custom parts, has stepped up to support frontline workers.

When the pandemic hit the region, the company initially intended to use its equipment and workforce to manufacture face shields for the local community, but it soon discovered it had a larger role to play. After listening to customers and other community organizations, LAMATEK’s leaders realized they could provide more value by supporting personal protective needs nationwide. Today, company leaders estimate that they have already supplied between four and five million pieces of foam for face shields.

“We thought we’d make face shields for our community—but then we found out that people were having issues finding components, and the main thing they needed was foam for face shields,” said LAMATEK Vice President Laura Basara. “So we ended up sticking to what we know and producing as much foam as we could for people in need across the country.”

Basara is also a 2017 STEP Ahead Honoree—a distinction conferred by The Manufacturing Institute to recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies.

The need for foam has been widespread, and other manufacturers have reconfigured their production lines to make protective gear as well. Basara said that LAMATEK has received inquiries from manufacturers who traditionally make everything from tractor parts to bicycles to leather bags.

“The whole community has come together to make this massive effort happen,” said Basara. “It’s heartwarming to see everyone doing everything they can.”

Basara credits health care providers with leading the fight against COVID-19, but she is also grateful for the men and women in America’s manufacturing workforce who are creating protective equipment, medical products and daily essentials.

“Critical is not even the word—they’re irreplaceable,” said Basara. “Without manufacturing, this country doesn’t run. Without our team on the line, we can’t solve this. They are our key players, and we are so grateful to them.”

“Manufacturers provide critical services, vital products and essential infrastructure across the country,” said President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons. “Especially at this time of serious challenge, the work they do could not be more important.”

Workforce

MFG Day Inspires Future Creators to Explore Manufacturing

Every year, shop floors across the country open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to showcase modern manufacturing careers through MFG Day. Carolyn Lee is the Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers. Here she shares what MFG Day is, why it is so important to the future of the industry and how manufacturers can drive attendance to their MFG events.

What is MFG Day?

MFG Day is an initiative to raise awareness for the many opportunities in modern manufacturing. On MFG Day, manufacturers open their doors to open minds about well-paying, rewarding and productive careers that give the next generation the chance to create the future using tomorrow’s technologies today. 

When does it take place?

MFG Day begins on the first Friday of October but events extend throughout the month. Last year there were more than 3,000 MFG Day events hosted in 49 states as well as in Canada and Mexico. More than 325,000 students participated in MFG Day events.

 What happens at MFG Day events?

Participants get a chance to see what is really taking place on many shop floors. This isn’t your grandparents’ manufacturing industry. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and co-bots—robots that work alongside humans—are commonplace on shop floors. And augmented reality and virtual reality are now just reality for many modern manufacturers. All of this and more is available to those who attend an on-site or virtual MFG Day event.

Why is MFG Day especially important this year?

This is a critical moment for the manufacturing industry. The U.S. economy as a whole is facing an unprecedented challenge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturing is no exception, but the industry’s leadership in our nation’s response is showing the public how critical manufacturing is to our country. Manufacturers, the men and women who make things in America, are the ones making the test kits, personal protective equipment and daily items Americans need right now during this crisis. They are developing medicines and vaccines and the equipment needed to test and study treatments. Throughout our nation’s response effort—and during MFG Day in particular—we hope that more young people will see how creators respond when our country needs them most and choose to join in this effort by pursuing a career in modern manufacturing.

Do you have any advice for manufacturers who want to inspire more people to join the workforce?

Host a MFG Day event, and register it on CreatorsWanted.org, the new digital home for MFG Day, so people in your area can find it and attend! MFG Day is your opportunity to stand up and be counted, showcasing the reality of careers in our industry. Our country’s future is tied to the continued success of the manufacturing industry, and manufacturing’s success will be determined, as it always has, by its next generation of leaders. Join us in this critical effort to strengthen our industry into the future.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Release “American Renewal Action Plan”

Timmons: The Nation Is Counting on Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – To strengthen the nation’s response to COVID-19 and ensure manufacturers are poised to lead the recovery and renewal of the American economy, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan.”

“Our industry has been on the front lines throughout this crisis, providing the equipment and products to keep our country safe, healthy and fed. The nation is counting on us to continue to play a leading role in this effort, and lawmakers must equip us with the tools we need,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. Timmons, a member of the White House’s COVID-19 Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, added, “The NAM’s ‘American Renewal Action Plan’ is the path forward.”

The recommendations are outlined in three phases—response, recovery and renewal. Some of the key provisions include the following:

  • Response:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to allow manufacturers to further ramp up production and enhance distribution of personal protective equipment to support not only our hospitals, but all sectors of the economy.
  • Recovery:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to ensure that employees are able to go into work confident that proper health precautions are being implemented.
    • Strong and clear legal reforms that protect the essential manufacturers that must remain open to provide vital goods and those that retool their factories to make urgently needed equipment and supplies.
  • Renewal:
    • Significant investment in workforce training programs to aid dislocated workers.
    • Historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure to boost the economy.
    • Key reforms to boost economic and national security by growing the U.S. manufacturing industry.
    • Congressional and administrative actions to expand U.S. exports and strengthen the manufacturing supply chain.
    • The Treasury Department, Small Business Administration and Federal Reserve should speed the delivery of aid to small businesses by addressing key issues related to their new lending facilities.

The NAM released its “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations” on March 9 to guide the government’s initial response to the pandemic. The association released an updated and expanded action plan on March 18. Congress and the administration have already adopted many of the proposals.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

NAM’s Timmons Named to COVID-19 Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups

Timmons: Manufacturers Will Drive Next Phase of American Renewal

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the NAM being included in President Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.

“Throughout this crisis, manufacturers have been leading the way. Much of the sector has been fully operational, making critical personal protective equipment, medical supplies and ventilators, in addition to producing food and household essentials. Manufacturers have many examples of safe and healthy practices to share.

“Throughout the past month, the NAM has provided the White House, FEMA, the Coronavirus Task Force, DHS and other agencies with our legislative solutions for economic stabilization and future growth, as well as a database of available PPE supply and connecting the supply chain with OEMs.

“Over the past three years, manufacturers have produced impressive gains in investment, job creation and wage growth here in the United States. As the nation prepares to move from relief to recovery and bringing our $22 trillion economy out of its ‘induced coma,’ I look forward to working with the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, including the 44 NAM member companies that were also named, to drive this next phase of American renewal, while putting the health and well-being of the American people first. Ultimately, manufacturers, the backbone of this economy, want to be able to invest, grow and hire—right where we left off.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Business Roundtable, NAM Combine COVID-19 Response Efforts to Address Critical Shortages

Partnership Brings Together Full Strength of U.S. Business and Manufacturing Communities

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable are joining forces to strengthen the business community’s response to the critical supplies shortage facing the nation’s medical community due to COVID-19. The partnership brings together the full strength of the U.S. business and manufacturing communities to help those on the front lines of the pandemic. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and Business Roundtable President & CEO Joshua Bolten will serve as co-chairs of this effort.

The NAM and Business Roundtable will help consolidate efforts across industry sectors in the United States and report the data to the federal government. The NAM and Business Roundtable are encouraging their members to share information on medical supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment and test kits, through a co-developed online survey. The data will capture existing supplies as well as where new manufacturing capacity can be tapped to address shortages nationwide.

Upon announcement of this partnership, Vice President Mike Pence offered the following statement:

“Our nation’s job creators have embraced President Trump’s ‘whole-of-America’ response to the coronavirus outbreak and have quickly mobilized to find innovative solutions for the challenges ahead of us,” said Vice President Mike Pence. “From coast to coast, America’s businesses have brought a truly extraordinary response to this moment, and they should be commended for answering the call and being part of the solution.”

Upon announcement of this partnership, Bolten and Timmons released the following statements:

“Only through a concerted effort can this country address the current shortages of critical medical supplies and equipment,” said Bolten. “Working with our members to identify excess inventories as well as additional manufacturing bandwidth is one way we can help those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Our goal is to keep all Americans healthier and safer.”

“Manufacturers in America are reigniting the ‘arsenal of democracy’ and mobilizing to help our nation overcome this historic crisis, and it is inspiring to see thousands of manufacturers stepping up to join the fight over just the past two weeks,” said Timmons. “By combining the NAM’s nationwide efforts with the work of Business Roundtable, we will be even more effective in our vital work. We are coordinating directly with the administration and manufacturing leaders to identify existing equipment and ramp up production of urgently needed health supplies. America’s creators will respond to this challenge, just as we have throughout history. We are all in this together as we fight to keep our country healthy and strong.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

-BRT-

Business Roundtable CEO members lead companies with more than 15 million employees and $7.5 trillion in revenues. The combined market capitalization of Business Roundtable member companies is the equivalent of over 27 percent of total U.S. stock market capitalization, and Business Roundtable members invest nearly $147 billion in research and development – equal to over 40 percent of total U.S. private R&D spending. Our companies pay $296 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate $488 billion in revenues for small and medium-sized businesses. Business Roundtable companies also make more than $8 billion in charitable contributions.

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