While each host company was able to tailor the day’s activities to suit their audiences, most offered tours of manufacturing facilities and explained the diversity of careers within the sign industry. Some companies began conversations about internships or co-op placements with participating educators.
“What an exciting opportunity to see the possibilities in our industry through fresh eyes,” said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO.
Anderson attended Manufacturing Day at Lauretano Sign Group in Terryville, Connecticut. “We know that finding skilled workers is going to become increasingly difficult and the demographics are not on our side. The typical highly skilled manufacturing worker is fifty-six years old. Reaching out to the next generation of workers to showcase the variety of careers within our industry is extremely important.”
Some highlights from the event:
Poyant Signs, New Bedford, Massachusetts, hosted more than thirty high school students from two local schools—one vocational and the other a charter school. Students saw the entire process, from design to finished signs loaded onto trucks for shipment. Students expressed surprise at the scope of operations.
Mattatall Signs, Ltd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, offered tours to twenty-five Grade 10 students from a local high school. Students learned about the manufacturing and installation process as well as business office functions. They also toured the shop floor, art room, and laser/photopolymer room.
Kieffer & Co., offered tours of its Sheboygan, Wisc., facility, landing the company on the front of the local newspaper and garnering video coverage.
Also participating were:
Cummings Signs, Dothan, Ala., and Riverside, California;
Federal Heath, Oceanside, California; Euless, Texas; Jacksonville, Texas; and Delaware, Ohio;
Lauretano Sign Group, Terryville, Connecticut;
North American Signs, South Bend, Indiana; and
Watchfire Signs By Time-O-Matic, Danville, Illinois.
“We had a lot of fun and can’t wait to do it again next year,” said Jeff Fuhrmann, Kieffer & Co.’s vice president of manufacturing.
In all, more than 800 manufacturers across the nation participated in the initiative, tripling in size from the inaugural event in 2012. Taking part in Manufacturing Day is another initiative in ISA’s efforts to improve workforce development. The partnership with NAM goes well beyond the event. Earlier this year, sign companies participated in NAM’s Manufacturing Summit on Capitol Hill, which offered an opportunity to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss topics like healthcare and the economy.