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CNN Money - Bill Mach Interview

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- What's uncool about a $100,000 factory job? These days not much. In fact, factory jobs -- once considered back-breaking and low-paying -- have become high-tech and high-salaried.

Still young people don't get it, say factory owners, who can't find enough skilled workers.

"When I was an apprentice in the late '70s, kids were dying to get into manufacturing. There were plenty of factory jobs," said Joe Sedlak, a machinist who owns the Chesapeake Machine Company in Baltimore. "There are jobs for the taking today. But kids don't want them."

Stereotypes about factory jobs still persist. And the media isn't helping, factory owners complain.

"On TV, kids don't see many positive images of manufacturing," said Bill Mach, president of Mach Mold, a manufacturer of plastics molds in Benton Harbor, Mich. A show will have a scene with "an old dark building with a bird flying out of it, and something bad happens."

Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, agreed. "Pop culture has a big impact on young people," he said, adding that the only recent positive pop culture depiction of manufacturing that he can think of has been in Iron Man.

 

Desperately seeking factory workers

The industry needs an image boost, and young people need to get educated about high-skilled factory jobs, experts said.

An aspiring machinist -- a popular factory job -- can start training at 18 and then do a one- or two-year manufacturing apprenticeship. In five years, he or she could be making more than $50,000. In 10 years, that could double to $100,000.

Not a bad salary for a 28-year-old.

"If you're really good at your work, you could remain employed for a very long time, because there are so few of us," said Sedlak.

Sedlak's top worker makes $30 an hour. And annual pay at his company ranges between $70,000 and $80,000 with overtime. In 31 years, only three workers have retired from his factory.

Still, with almost 13 million unemployed Americans, including many high school graduates, he is struggling to fill positions.

A recent Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte report underscores that. Manufacturers currently have 600,000 vacancies nationwide, it said.

"When we pushed manufacturing out of the country, we pushed job opportunities out," said Sedlak.

The downward spiral that followed was swift. With jobs gone, schools ended vocational classes. Kids lost interest in manufacturing. Many states stopped sponsoring apprentice programs in factories.

Last week, Justin Lavanway, 17, and two of his high school buddies, toured Mach Mold to learn more about manufacturing and its jobs.

 

States to manufacturers: We want you!

His grandfather was a career machinist with Whirlpool. "I saw that it was a pretty stable career for him," said Lavanway. "That's why I'm keeping my options open."

But his friends, Joseph Johnson, 18, who is thinking about a job in medical services, and Charlie Leaf, 18, who wants pursue a career in psychiatry, are not interested in manufacturing.

"The public school system tells students that we have to go to college to be successful," said Johnson. "Ever since you're young, you hear that's what you have to do to achieve the American dream."

Johnson and Leaf also don't think manufacturing offers stable careers.

Mach hears this often from young people, even through manufacturing is a deep-rooted profession through generations of families in Southwest Michigan.

And it's just not true, he said. "I have 40 people in my plant. Half have been there for 15 to 25 years."

"There's no easy answer to how we can change manufacturing's image problem," said Paul. Companies themselves have to be up to that challenge, he said.

 

One idea is to turn to pop culture, said Paul.

"Maybe we need someone cool like Clint Eastwood to say, 'Go work in factories' as a follow up to his Super Bowl Chrysler ad."

 

To view entire article click here: CNN Money Article

U.S. manufacturing shortage of skilled workers

Washington Post - By Peter Whoriskey, Published: February 19

 

HOLLAND, Mich. — This stretch of the Rust Belt might seem like an easy place to find factory workers.

 

Unemployment hovers above 9 percent. Foreign competition has thrown many out of work. It is a platitude that this industrial hub, like the country itself, needs more manufacturing work.

 

But as the 2012 presidential candidates roam the state offering ways to “bring the jobs back,” many manufacturers say that, in fact, the jobs are already here.

 

What’s missing are the skilled workers needed to fill them.

 

A metal-parts factory here has been searching since the fall for a machinist, an assembly team leader and a die-setter. Another plant is offering referral bonuses for a welder. And a company that makes molds for automakers has been trying for seven months to fill four spots on the second shift.

 

“Our guys have been working 60 to 70 hours a week, and they’re dead. They’re gone,” said Corey Carolla, vice president of operations at Mach Mold, a 40-man shop in Benton Harbor, Mich. “We need more people. The trouble is finding them.”

 

Through a combination of overseas competition and productivity gains, the United States has lost nearly 4 million manufacturing jobs in the past 10 years. But many manufacturers say the losses have not yielded a surplus of skilled factory workers.

 

Instead, as automation has transformed factories and altered the skills needed to operate and maintain factory equipment, the laid-off workers, who may be familiar with the old-fashioned presses and lathes, are often unqualified to run the new.

 

Compounding the problem is a demographic wave. At some factories, much of the workforce consists of baby boomers who are nearing retirement. Many of the younger workers who might have taken their place have avoided the manufacturing sector because of the volatility and stigma of factory work, as well as perceptions that U.S. manufacturing is a “dying industry.”

 

“Politicians make it sound like there’s a line out front of workers with a big sign saying ‘No more jobs,’ ” said Matt Tyler, chief executive of a precision metal company in New Troy, Mich. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

 

The shortage of skilled workers was noted before the recession, but the phenomenon has become more acute with the recent recovery.

 

Just this week, Tyler said, when a fracking company asked him to make pieces for pipes, his chief worry was whether he could find six new operators to do the work.

 

“This was never a problem I thought we’d be having,” he said.

 

The frustrations are shared across the country.

 

A recent report by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute, based on a survey of manufacturers, found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled. By comparison, the unemployed in the United States number 12.8 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

“High unemployment is not making it easier to fill positions, particularly in the areas of skilled production and production support,” the Deloitte report found.

 

Similarly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that although fewer machinists would be employed in the future, job opportunities “should continue to be good” because many young people with the right aptitudes were preferring other fields.

 

 

To view entire article click here: Washington Post Article

Bill Mach 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year - Moldmaker Mach makes its mark

Benton Twp. company earns Cornerstone award

By JULIE SWIDWA - H-P Staff Writer

Thursday, February 16, 2012 1:05 PM EST

 

BENTON TOWNSHIP - When Bill Mach and his wife, Vicki, established their company in 1981 in a small shop in Riverside, they were the only two people working there.

 

In two years, the company outgrew its space and moved to a larger building on Milton Street in Benton Harbor. Still growing in 1997, Mach Mold Inc. moved to its current 28,000-square-foot facility at 360 Urbandale Ave. in Benton Township.

 

On Wednesday Bill Mach, owner and president, was named the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year in the manufacturing category at the annual meeting of Cornerstone Alliance and its affiliates at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center.

 

"This award is welcome recognition for the efforts of myself and my company on an ongoing basis," Mach said in an interview. "Nothing that happens here happens without the employees. You can have all the equipment in the world but if you don't have people who know how to use the equipment, want to use it and are creative, you can't continue."

 

Mach Mold makes products like injection molds and fixtures primarily for the automotive industry. At its peak before the recession, the company had 50 workers, but got down to 30 during 2006. Mach said the work force is going back up and is at 38. He said some of them have been there for 25 years. Many of the newer workers have gone through an apprentice program through Lake Michigan College at its M-TEC facility, Mach said.

 

He runs the manufacturing side and his wife runs the administrative side. In 2009, Mach was named "Mold Builder of the Year" by both the American Mold Builders Association and the International Society of Plastics Engineers.

 

Mach is credited for helping put together the 16-member Berrien Tooling Coalition. Members work together for the benefit of all, he said. For example, if one company has a job bigger than it can handle, it will share work with other companies. The businesses also reduce their costs by sharing some equipment. For example, Mach Mold has a gun drill and another company doesn't. That company has an electrical discharge machine and Mach doesn't.

 

"By sharing equipment, we can both get a sale we otherwise wouldn't get," he said. "And by sharing work, we all keep from having big swings in our employment levels."

 

Members of the coalition also share educational experiences and have speakers talk to the whole group rather than individual companies, he said.

 

Mach said he is also "on the bandwagon" with Cornerstone Alliance to promote the area as a good place to do business.

 

"It's been a good place for my business to grow and thrive," he said.

 

 

To view entire article click here: HP Article

SWM Manufacturers want to hire, can’t find qualified employees

From: ABC 57 News

By: Ryan Klund

Feb 14, 2012

 

 

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - An industry in Southwest Michigan is ready to hire employees but is having trouble finding qualified employees.

 

The Berrien Tooling Coalition met Tuesday morning for a roundtable meeting at Lake Michigan College’s M-Tech facility on Klock Road in Benton Harbor.

 

When asked, representatives from 18 of the 20 companies attending agreed that finding skilled workers is a problem. “Between the people in that room I bet we’d hire another 80 kids in the next three months,” said Mike Levi, Chief Financial Officer for Eagle Technologies in Bridgman.

Eagle Technologies builds manufacturing machines. Levi said the company just hired six employees and would hire six more immediately if those people were available. “There’s a definite shortage of talent,” he said.

 

The Berrien Tooling Coalition began meeting during the recession in 2008 when ‘tool and die’ businesses were laying off employees. Now, with a rebounding economy, the coalition meets with representatives from LMC to properly train a workforce that is desperately needed.

 

“I’ve already got like three job offers,” said Tammy Calaberese, a manufacturing student at LMC who still has a year left in college. Calaberese was laid off from her previous machining job and feels the demand for her advanced manufacturing training.

 

Levi said there aren’t enough people interested in manufacturing. “(Local manufacturers) would hire 50 to 80 more people right now but there aren’t 50 to 80 in that classroom.”

 

Levi said a new generation of prospective employees aren’t exposed to manufacturing with shop classes in high school and get negative feedback from their parents. “Mom and Dad are encouraging their kids not to be a part of manufacturing,” he said.

 

The Berrien Tooling Coalition now discusses ways to recruit young people into the industry. Levi said part of the strategy is showing them that new-age manufacturing is computer based and no longer is the dirty job it once was.

 

 

For the entire article, please visit: abc 57 News article

Collaboration not competition helps Michigan mold makers thrive

From PlasticsToday.com

By Clare Goldsberry 

Published: December 2nd, 2011

 

The Southwestern Michigan Coalition proves that success can be found in cooperation with industry peers, not just competition, with benefits to be realized by all. It's well-known that Michigan's manufacturing industries have suffered tremendous losses over the past five years. In the molding and mold manufacturing industries, many companies have been forced to close their doors, shrinking the number of suppliers that primarily serviced the automotive industry in that state. One group in the state, however, not only survived the downturn and subsequent recession, but grew their businesses thanks to some encouragement - and tax abatements - from the state of Michigan through the formation of the Berrien Tooling Coalition.

 

In 2005, Michigan recognized it had a problem. Many small-to-mid-sized suppliers (molders and moldmakers, among others) were going out of business and those that were left were struggling to survive. "These industries were deemed critical industries for the state," says Ken Patzkowsky, president of Hanson Mold in St. Joseph, MI, and one of the 16 members of the Berrien Tooling Coalition, which also comprises metal fabricating and machine shops, welding and stamping companies in Berrien County, with fewer than 100 employees. Hanson Mold operates from a 50,000-square-foot facility and employs 90 people. The company's customer base is solely automotive.

 

"Through a survey, the state realized that most shops are smaller enterprises," explains Patzkowsky. "Many times companies can't take on large programs from certain customers because they don't have the capacity or all the capabilities required. However, if they work together, they can be awarded larger projects. Potentially, that would keep the work in Michigan."

 

"What has made our area survive - obviously we're not in the ideal location as there are no big OEMs in Berrien County - is that as a group we work together," said Bill Mach, president of Mach Mold Inc., a 46-person mold shop in Benton Harbor, MI. "We have several organizations that have spurred this along over the years, including the AMBA, the NTMA and certainly because of the Berrien Tooling Coalition activity over the past several years, we've seen an increase in our work loads."

 

Patzkowsky concurs. "The AMBA already had a good group of members in this area, but the Coalition took what some of us were already doing and took it to the next level," he says

 

For the remainder of the article, please visit Plastics Today

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