According to a 2010 Ohio Manufacturing Association report, manufacturing was the top private sector employer, comprising 14.11 percent of Ohio jobs in 2008, higher than health care and retail trade, second only to government. As older workers retire it is estimated 200,000 replacements will be needed.
Further complicating matters is advancing technology, which requires new workers to have greater skills and problem-solving abilities. Today’s advanced manufacturing is not your father’s job. No longer is it a repetitive, mundane, minimal involvement job. Todays machinist are pretty much in control and responsible for his/her operation. Somewhat like a mini company within a company.
According to the bureau of labor statistics the annual mean wage for industries with the highest published employment, machinist wages are $40,000 which is comparable to computer operators, massage therapists, and social workers. The money is there, the jobs are going unfulfilled, and the future of these jobs is long-term. So why aren’t more folks gravitating to this industry…the negative stereotype of years past. Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturing Association said “We in manufacturing need to do a better job of communicating the opportunities that are available in manufacturing and we need our public partners to assist in that”
Isothermal Community College (Spindale, North Carolina) is combating the metalworking industry’s skilled labor shortage by altering young people’s misperceptions about manufacturing and improve the industry’s view of community colleges. They have made a substantial investment in modern machine tools. Most community colleges are teaching with machines that have been donated to them. These are basically antiques which advanced machining techniques cannot be taught. Mike Saunders made the statement “To upgrade our workforce and get more people interested in manufacturing, it is going to take a financial commitment on the part of the colleges, support by the manufacturing community, and getting the word out to our high school students that manufacturing is a great career.
Ohio is not the only state with a skilled labor shortage. Throughout the United States there is an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs unfulfilled because of the lack of skilled labor. Despite the nay sayers, manufacturing is not dead in the U.S., it is a problem of staffing.
It’s been a little while since I blogged. I was trying to come up with a topic for this week when our Purchasing Manager told me about what he’s been seeing from vendors. He went out of his way to say “make sure you mention this in your next blog”. So here we go…
Some companies seem to have adopted the mindset that since manufacturing activity is improving, it’s now open season on costs. By that, I mean that they keep inventing new ways to raise costs for their customers. Apparently some companies think that it’s time to boost margins, and they don’t think their customers will complain because, after all, business is booming in some segments. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen the (attempted) return of fuel surcharges and material surcharges. We’ve had vendors attempt to bill us for inbound freight to their facilities. We’ve also seen the (attempted) return of things like handling charges, even in cases where freight charges were not billed. Those that are even more creative are adding “broken box quantity” charges. And companies that previously did not have minimum order value have instituted them.
Remember when manufacturing was struggling and thought to be on its way out as a viable economic contributor? Remember how companies trying to survive were so cooperative and accommodating with respect to prices and deliveries? They didn’t dare include those sorts of silly add-on items on their invoices because they knew that their customers wouldn’t stand for it, and they were lucky to have any customers at all. How easy those companies forget what customers value when things seem to be going well. Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
I’m happy to report that these kinds of practices haven’t spread to EXAIR. We won’t include any mystery add-on charges on your invoice. And we don’t have a minimum order quantity.
By now, I’m sure that you may have already seen some of this silliness in action. If not, look out for it, because it will likely show up on some of your invoices soon. Don’t accept these charges from vendors. You’ll just be encouraging the behavior. They should really know better.
And please enjoy this sendup of a Comcast cable bill by an unhappy former subscriber.
“Nobody is hiring” – that’s a phrase that we hear over and over in the news media.
Is it true? I think in many cases that it is true. Business owners, especially in manufacturing, are cautious about adding to their workforces after the past two years of austerity.
But it isn’t 100% true. The myth about the death of manufacturing in the United States isn’t true. Manufacturing as a whole is growing again, and those companies that have positioned themselves for growth are indeed adding to their employment rosters.
Here at EXAIR, we’ve added two new people in the past couple of weeks, and two more are on the way before the end of February. EXAIR is growing. In fact, business is booming. Brand strength has never been higher. And the small steps that we take every day, every week and every month continue to position us for future success. To our knowledge, few if any companies can match our track record of innovative new product introductions. Our service is second to none. And our team is the most experienced in the industry by a quantum leap.
Business at EXAIR is good, and we talk to manufacturers every day that are saying the same things. Those small, individual successes are combining to revitalize an industry long left for dead. Kind of like the city of Detroit. I thought this Super Bowl commercial was one of the strongest that I have seen in a long time.
Manufacturers ARE recovering. Jobs ARE returning. Companies are picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and getting back to business. Those that positioned themselves correctly before and during the downturn in order to be ready to take advantage of economic growth are already reaping the fruits of their difficult labor.
And we are proud to be a small part of that resurgence.
To paraphrase Eminem, “this is U.S. manufacturing, and this is what we do”.
Manufacturing is cool, just like this video courtesy of Dennis Green.
EXAIR has been a manufacturer from the day that we were founded back in 1983. In those days, our founder (now CEO) answered customer calls and took orders during the daytime and then made the parts at night. From Day 1, EXAIR designed and manufactured our own line of products because we thought it made us more responsive to our customers. After all, who can relate better to manufacturing companies and processes than a manufacturer?
Today, 27 years later, we still feel the same. Being the manufacturer of the products that we are selling puts us in a position to get customers what they need like nobody else in the world. The front cover of our catalog has the phrase “Manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products Since 1983” proudly shown right below our logo. It is simply who we are as a company. If you call us today, you can probably have what you need by tomorrow in most cases. And sometimes even that fast isn’t fast enough. Sometimes we deliver to customers the SAME day for critical situations. We’ve been shipping our cataloged products from stock for 15 years and we set the standard for performance and customer satisfaction.
Being a manufacturer also gives us other capabilities beyond just quick deliveries. We have the capability to customize our products quickly to meet the specific requirements of any customer. Need a product shorter or longer, with more holes or fewer holes? We can do that and still deliver quickly. Because we are a manufacturer.
For years, we were one of the only companies around to offer this kind of service, and we shipped most special products within two weeks of the order, which was unheard of at the time. But we are never satisfied and we are always trying to improve our products and services. Back in 2008, we cut our lead times for special length air knives in half. We simply found a way to improve our processes and raised the bar in order to be even more responsive to customer needs.
Did I mention that we are never satisfied? Stay tuned for an announcement that dramatically improves our delivery on specialized EXAIR products in the days ahead.
We are who you thought we were! The best in the world.