Manufacturing Matters conference in Wisconsin
Meghan McKeefry and Mike Mitchell, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Field Coordinators, attended the Manufacturing Matters conference hosted by the WMEP, on February 29th. Manufacturers across Wisconsin are joined by business leaders, students, teachers and elected officials to celebrate WI Manufacturing. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, WMEP's Director Buckley Brinkman, WMC's Kurt Bauer, and CEO Dan Ariens, of Ariens Company, were among the speakers in Milwaukee, WI.
Many of the workshops took a look at the challenge of filling vacant jobs- the skills gap, and the need to reach out to K-12 students to interest them in a manufacturing career in the future. The idea of a cultural revolution was hit hard: manufacturing has changed from the past, it is now high tech and clean. It needs to be portrayed positively in the media and encouraged by parents, and teachers. More emphasis on co-ops, internships and apprenticeships was key to success. We learn by making things- hands on experience is so important.
Business leaders talked about the challenges they face competing with overseas manufacturers.
CEO Dan Ariens, of Ariens Company, spoke about the successes his Wisconsin based manufacturer has had. At Ariens Co. they manufacture snow blowers and lawn mowers. Ariens company partnered with Brillion High School (Brillion, WI) to create a state-of-the-art learning center focused on manufacturing. Dan spoke to the crowd of over 500 people of how his company is competing with China. Dan told the story of how his company manufactures a spindle for $33/unit and how the same part could be made in China for $16. He refused to purchase from China and instead redesigned the manufacturing process into a "one-piece flow cell." He showed pictures of his facility before and after and shared how the productivity changed. Today, Ariens company can manufacture that spindle for less than $16 and Dan sure is one positive CEO who shares his success story and challenges ahead with a great attitude.
CEO Jeff Clark of Waukesha Metal Products, spoke about his stamping, tooling, fabrication, and assembly facilities located in Wisconsin. At Waukesha Metal Products, they manufacture control panels for electrical components, dental units and the shift flange (auto parts). Jeff announced that their plant would be opening an On-Site Career Learning Center targeted for high school students to become immersed in manufacturing.
Meghan McKeefry and Mike Mitchell also met Mark Lasky, CEO of Sadoff Iron and Metal Company, who told AAM that the success of their business depends directly of the success of manufacturing. They recycle metals and re-sell them to manufacturers. They are an example of the manufacturing multiplier effect.
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