Why Manufacturing Matters: A Chance to Tell Your Story

In a departure from the regular format of chats for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, Ben Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois decided to format a chat as a way for participants to share snippets about their experiences working in the manufacturing industry.

How Did You Get Involved In Manufacturing?

The discussion began with participants sharing how they first got involved with manufacturing and how long they’ve been working in or with the industry.

Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “Well, answering as a brand, 110 years!!”

Host Nordman said, “Awesome! One of our brands is 108 years old! Manufacturing was quite different back then from the looks of some of our old photos and prints.”

Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “I grew up playing around a veneer manufacturing plant. My father worked there all his life. So I'd say that manufacturing is in my blood. “

Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “We haven't worked in manufacturing, but we are looking to offer services for manufacturers as well and penetrate this market.”

Kati McDermith, The Manufacturing Hype Girl, said, “For about 12 years now I have been working with manufacturing.”

NickRivers-1Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc. in Missouri said, “A little over 25 Years!”

Rebecca Prox, a Digital Marketing Pro in Wisconsin said, “I'm fairly new to the manufacturing community... been here since January 2020. But manufacturing runs in my family.”

David Crysler from The Crysler Club in Michigan said, “I would have never guessed that Rebecca! Welcome home!”

Gina Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “Hmmm, wow, uh, shhhh (39 years). Yes, I started when very very young sweeping paint chips off the floor, stacking color chips, and coallating manuals on an assembly line in summer where my mom worked.”

Nigel T Packer from Pelatis Online in Wales, UK said, “I have been involved in manufacturing since the age of 10. Just after the invention of the steam engine by James Watt.”

Dan Bigger from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “I have been in manufacturing or working within it for over 20 years. It all started with a sales job with Budweiser.”

Kelley Plats from North American Coating Laboratories in Ohio said, “One of my sorority sisters told me that I had to go into manufacturing! I started about 3 years ago and haven't looked back!

She continued, “We should've answered as a brand...48 years! Providing optical coatings for a variety of industries since 1974!”

Adam Baker from Schooley Mitchell in Pennsylvania said, “As a western PA kid, I've been around manufacturing my whole life - from steel manufacturing (J&L Steel ) to hanging out in my friend's dad's tool and die "garage". As an adult, I became a manufacturer's dream saving them money.”

Amy.M.Anderson said, “I grew up in a manufacturing household, enjoyed touring plants, and was privileged to work in the industry early in my career.”

Whitney Koch from Welker, Inc. in Texas said, “Welker has been manufacturing solutions for the oil & gas industry since 1954!”

Sue Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois said, “I have been involved in manufacturing my whole life. From daughter of a machinist/business owner to an accountant for manufacturing clients to assisting my husband with a startup to business owner today.”

Valerie Weber from Monofrax in New York said, “30+ years at Monofrax. It was my first experience with manufacturing.”

Naomi from Peninsula Components Inc in California said, “I started pretty recently. To be exact, it was this year with PENCOM. I am finding the manufacturing industry quite an essential sector that the younger generation should be exposed to.”

VirtuDesk said, “We are not in the manufacturing industry and are amazed by our manufacturing friends here at how long they have been in the business! We can't help saying "wow"!”

Gail Robertson, from Gail Now in Canada said, “I started in manufacturing as a consultant. As a “recovering journalist” I know a story when I hear it - and then how to use it to help with sales, recruiting and retention.”

Host Nordman said, “I started my manufacturing journey when I was around 15 years old, and actually have been around the industry for my whole life. Obsidian MFG has been owned by my family for about 15 years now and I was first “hired” to help move our lift magnet brands to our old facility when they were purchased. I was around the company sooner than that but when I was 15 was my first job experience.”



Your Role, Your Company’s Role, Your Favorite Part



Next participants shared what their role or their company’s role is in manufacturing. In addition, they shared what their favorite part of working in manufacturing or working with manufacturers is.


Rusine said, “We are champions of manufacturing industries. We serve b2b manufacturing companies.”

Prox said, “My current role= Digital Marketing Manager for an LED lighting company Favorite part= I watch something go from R&D to consumer hands. It's pretty amazing to see it all.”

Sue Nordman said, “I’m president of Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. We own 4 brands of machine tools/machinery for the metalworking industry. My favorite part of manufacturing is solving problems/fixing things.”

Koch said, “We manufacture sampling and odorization equipment used across the oil & gas value chain. We're also happy to offer contract manufacturing services like assembly, marking, and machining.”

She continued, “ I, personally, work in marketing. I've developed content for our website, print collateral, and manage our internal communications. But my favorite part is managing our social media channels!”

Baker said, “My role is to help manufacturers reduce costs, increase profits, and hopefully re-shore more manufacturing to the USA! My favorite part of manufacturing is the people - they embrace that underdog, American fighting spirit and I get invigorated being around it.”

Tabasso said, “I work for the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. We're the nonprofit @NIST_MEP for 24 counties in Northeast Ohio. I consult with manufacturers on strategic planning, marketing and sales strategies and implementation for growth. I love manufacturing.”

She continued, “I am a nerd/geek and love learning about chemicals, compounds, tolerances, materials, tensile strength, machining, welding, and on and on. EVERYTHING we use is made by someone somewhere in a building in your neighborhood. And I love technology.”

Crysler said, “We play a support role helping operations leaders create systems to drive growth and operate with excellence. The people.”

Michelle Riccetto from Brash Inc said, “We help source quality goods and negotiate contracts with manufacturers. We then initiate pilot production with the manufacture once that's done! It's always a rewarding experience to see the product come to life.”

Bigger said, “Business Development Supply Chain Planning and Scheduling The people.”

Paulie Rose from RCF Technologies in Missouri said, “I am involved in marketing for our aerospace manufacturing company.”

McDermith said, “My companies role is in the connecting of buyers to sellers in the mfg community. we can find you the supplier of the part you need or we can help you find buyers of your product/service.”

She continued, “My favorite part of manufacturing is all the people is supports and serves.”

Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “We support U.S. manufacturers by helping industrial buyers find domestic suppliers with our sourcing site IndustryNet and find new business in the industrial world with our sales platform Industry Select.”

Plats said, “My role is technical sales and marketing. I'm here to help connect customers to the right solutions for their applications. My absolute favorite part of manufacturing is that there are rarely two days that are exactly the same. There are always new opportunities!”

Anderson said, “Safety. Research & Development. Both of these manufacturing endeavors have applications throughout life. And touch on every aspect of manufacturing. Even some of my volunteer efforts are manufacturing corollaries (NASA anyone?).”

Naomi said, “I am the Marketing Coordinator. I work closely with the Sales Department and the Marketing Department. My favorite part of manufacturing is all the capabilities we have so we can help our customers in different industries.”

Weber said, “Currently the Manufacturing Manager. Started as the Quotation Clerk. Manufacturing is just so cool. Honestly. Richard Gere's character wasn't attractive in Pretty Woman until he became a manufacturer.”

Robertson said, “My main focus in manufacturing is helping tell stories using a three-step process: Sign Up. Suit Up. ShowUp. My fav part is working people who know then need help - and willing to see the value in sharing their stories.”

Packer said, “Production manager (previous life) Seeing a production line in full swing making the products that you designed and sold to the clients.”

Host Nordman said, “Obsidian MFG is the culmination of four OEM brands that produces and services critical technologies to many different industries. Our products are found throughout the machining process, from moving plates with lift magnets, holding work pieces with our workholding, and precision surface grinding.”


He continued, “My favorite part of working in manufacturing is that I get to be a part of the process of making things. Personally, I’ve always been one to make things and use my hands and I’ve conjoined that with my professional skills of marketing and communications.”


Coolest Thing


Next participants shared the coolest thing they’ve ever made personally or what they think the coolest thing is about their company that works with manufacturers.

Bigger said, “The coolest would have to be the log homes I designed and built. 1 was our home in NY, but I don't have pictures right now.”

Host Nordman said, “That is awesome! Doing that someday would definitely be a goal of mine.”

Rusine said, “It may not be manufacturing per se. But we are 'manufacturing' a school for virtual assistants. Don't know if that counts.”

Koch said, “My son!”

Prox said, “Hands down, best answer! I share that sentiment. My son was the best thing I ever made.”

She continued said, “A coffee bar. It was made for some friends of ours who commissioned my husband and me. We were very proud of the piece and have had others ask for them since.”

Plats said, “Just in time for Halloween! I did custom masking for a pumpkin-colored sunglass mirror to make a little cat!”

Rusine said, “That's cool!”

Tabasso said, “Multiple books of poetry published on academic and literary presses and most recently two junk journals.”

Koch said, “A published poet! That's awesome.”

Baker said, “One of my clients manufacturers parts for fire hydrants...imagine making something that is rarely used but absolutely has to work when it is used - It was fun to learn about!”

Riccetto said, “We've built many really interesting products from start to finish: medical devices, consumer products, IoT devices, and more... but I have to say one of my favorite things is watching our 3D printing machine in action. It's truly mind-blowing!”

Baker said, “Whoa - that's really cool looking!”

McDermith said, “The coolest thing I ever saw being made was the big

New Holland AG sprayer! I have been in love with all manufacturing since then.”

Jasmine Labelle from velavu in Canada said, “Building our small but mighty trackers was a very rewarding process!”

Sue Nordman said, “When I was a kid, I’d make things for my Barbies that my parents wouldn’t purchase. My analytical mind was working at a young age! As an adult, we have made some pretty impressive work holding for our customers. It falls under NDAs so no details–but it’s cool!”

Naomi said, “Personally, the coolest thing I helped build was a playground using recycled goods such as tires, plastic bottles, etc. in Nicaragua for children to go to after school.”

Packer said, “My office. I also built our home furniture and converted a panel van into a camper. Currently I am splicing rope products.”

Rose said, “One of the coolest things we made is part of the Presidents helicopter!”

Ingor van Rooi, The Networking Ninja in Canada said, “I love to make themed birthday cakes for my kids...especially their reactions when they see them.”

Anderson said, “This seems blasé now, but it was cool putting a learning platform on the web way back towards the beginning... It really engaged my church kids in learning during the summer - they pulled off some wins at quiz competitions.”

Host Nordman said, “I have made a few woodworking projects for my dog (yes, she’s spoiled) and have done various projects on my grandparent’s farm and house. My favorite project has been the bed that I made my pup recently.”



What Manufacturing Means to You


Participants were then asked: If they could choose one word to describe what manufacturing means to them, what would that one word be and why?

manufacturing-worker-hardhat-plantBigger said, “Everything, because without it everything would not be here and everything would not be able to function as we know our lives today. Manufacturing touches everything.”

Tabasso said, Innovation.”

Rusine said, “People. People are the driving force of manufacturing. Without them, there would be no manufacturing industry.”

Austin said, “Innovation.”

Prox said, “One word? Hm... Foundation. Manufacturing is the foundation of all things... the foundation of this country, too. Without manufacturing, the Industrial Age wouldn't have existed.”

Baker said, “One word to describe what manufacturing means to me - Freedom. COVID showed us how much we have to rely on others because we don't manufacture enough (someone say chip shortage?). When you can make for yourself, you are more in control.”

Plats said, “Essential! Manufacturing makes the world go round!”

Koch said, “Stability.”

Tabasso said, “I'm laughing considering the number of jobs I have lost in the industry due to economic downturns or supply chain issues.”

Naomi said, “Transformative.”

Riccetto said, “Iteration — even in the manufacturing process, there's a lot of back and forth to get it right!”

Packer said, “Breathtaking. The ability of invention and innovation to create devices out of inanimate objects that make life joyous and pleasurable.”

Sue Nordman said, “Manufacturing = critical-thinking I chose this word because I think it perfectly sums up the process of innovating a product/service to make our lives better/easier.”

Anderson said, “Progress.”

McDermith said, “Complex.”

Host Nordman said, “Family. From my grandpa starting his career in manufacturing in the 1950s all the way to my parents and I working with some of those same brands that he did, my whole family’s lives have revolved around manufacturing.”


The Future of Manufacturing

Next participants shared what they are most excited about regarding the future of manufacturing and where they see manufacturing heading.

Riccetto said, “Innovation! Excited to see how new discoveries in artificial intelligence, automation, etc.. will continue to improve the overall manufacturing process.”

Rusine said, “I'm excited to see the younger generation get involved with manufacturing. I see this being done by people I know on LinkedIn. Knowing this does not magically happen, we have a lot of work to do.”

Koch said, “Possibilities...they're endless! It's pretty exciting knowing so many technologies have yet to be developed.”

Sue Nordman said, “Reshoring and circular economy! Let’s bring things back to our country and let’s find better ways to reuse, repurpose, repair, recycle things in our lives. I see manufacturing growing in our country.”

Bigger said, “It's never ever going away, but it needs to be enhanced with new people, technologies, and processes-We cannot continue to do what we have always done.”

Labelle said, “Honestly… I’m just excited to see more companies adopt innovative inventory management techniques, rather than using manual spreadsheets to track high value assets like manufacturing equipment!”

McDermith said, “The possibilities.”

Prox said, “I believe that manufacturing is where ideas are born. I see the industry growing, expanding, and more of it coming back to the U.S.”

Tabasso said, “IoT, Industry 4.0, digitization, automation, robotics, additive, electric vehicles and that I will get to be a part of it all, God willing.”

van Rooi said, “I'm excited because manufacturing has infinite potential and with the world being smaller (via the internet), word can spread about it being a viable option in terms of opportunities and work for many and the industry WILL grow.”

Host Nordman said, “I am excited to see where things go with the future of the skilled trades and just the development of technology. While we generally agree that the younger generation is less interested in skilled trades as a career path, I am excited to see how we overcome that within the industry. We, as manufacturers, overcome challenges and break boundaries for our careers and this is just another boundary to overcome.”


Best Piece of Advice


The chat wrapped up with what their best piece of advice is for someone considering entering the manufacturing sector in any capacity—shop floor, management, marketing, sales, HR, machine operator, etc.

Bigger said, “There are so many opportunities. You just have to start somewhere and find your way to get where you want to go.”

Rusine said, “Joining the chat is one way to get more exposure about your company that a lot of people most likely don't know about yet.”

Koch said, “Get curious! Ask lots of questions and listen. Observe as much as possible. Find a community you can connect with and learn from.”

Host Nordman said, “Being able to ask questions is such a good tool to have! Sounds odd but it's true.”

Tabasso said, “I've actually told some of my college students to try a career in manufacturing. Some people are not cut out for college. Why waste all that time, money, earning potential when they can get paid to get trained? And earn a good wage.”

Host Nordman said, “More opportunities than a lot of people think! I believe this is one of the hurdles of involving the next gen of manufacturing workers.”

Prox said, “Be a sponge. Learn everything you can! Start from the ground up and learn how things are developed, made, ordered, shipped, etc.”

Sue Nordman said, “I challenge the youth of today to find someone in their 60’s and 70’s and talk to them about manufacturing in the USA when they were young. Find inspiration in their stories! Innovate their ideals to today’s world and then go make things.”

Labelle said, “Network with people in the space or join chats like this one! Just keep up with what’s going on. I’ve learnt so much just by joining coming to this every week and I think it’s beneficial to anyone who is new in the manufacturing sector.”

Host Nordman said, “There is a place for you within the industry no matter what job function you’re interested in. In my opinion, marketing is not what is thought of as a traditional manufacturing career but here I am along with a lot of this Twitter community working as a marketer in manufacturing. I enjoy a lot of aspects of marketing and being able to apply that to manufacturing is a challenge that I like and very rewarding.”



About #USAMfgHour

Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @DanBiggerUsaMfg, @DCSCinc, @SocialSMktg and @Radwell_Intl


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