SIDNEY – Public officials and students honored National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) on Oct. 7 by touring manufacturing facilities and learning about manufacturing processes. Two of the first stops of the day were Ross Aluminum and Cornerstone Building Brands.
“MFG Day is manufacturing’s biggest annual opportunity to inspire the next generation to start careers in modern manufacturing through a series of focused events to promote manufacturing to students, parents and educators on the first Friday of October continuing throughout the rest of the month,” the MFG Day website reads. It is organized by The Manufacturing Institute with founding partner Fabricators & Manufacturers Association.
One of the goals of MFG Day is to address the challenges of the skills gap that makes the manufacturing industry have around 800,000 open jobs per month. The skills gap is attributed to the lack of awareness of potential manufacturing careers, so participating MFG Day companies open their doors for tours and other events to get the future workforce interested.
At Ross Aluminum, public officials had the opportunity to learn more about the history and processes of the facility from two tour guides who have been with the company for decades: Pattern Shop Manager Marty Hill and Machine Shop and Mailroom Manager and Scheduler Emerson Smith. The company was founded in 1931 and makes castings for industrial, automotive, aerospace and military customers.
Ross Aluminum has been under the new ownership of P&THE Manufacturing since the beginning of April 2022. The previous owner had laid off most of the employees, but most of them came back to work with the company when called. The company has 53 employees currently and wants to be at 174 by 2024. They are struggling to find employees to replace the advanced skillset of the employees who have worked for the company for years, according to Smith and Human Resources Manager Lisa Guyett.
Students and public officials also attended the MFG Day event at Cornerstone Building Brands – the largest manufacturer of exterior building products in North America – and met essential Cornerstone employees and President and CEO Rose Lee. Cornerstone has MFG Day events planned throughout October at seven of their facilities with a theme of “Building Stronger Communities.” Before the event started, Lee mentioned the importance of the Sidney facility and its employees.
“This is a very important site for us, certainly for the exterior surfaces and cladding and siding portfolio. We have about 300 folks here. We’ve been here for like 60 years. It’s an important, integrated part of the community, and it’s a great performing brand with great cohorts who are really motivated by the work that they do and it’s a showcase for who we are as a company,” Lee said.
Lee addressed the attendees before the tours began along with Deb McDermott, the director of the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County, Commissioner Julie Ehemann and City Manager Andrew Bowsher.
McDermott said Cornerstone – formerly called Ply Gem – joined the Workforce Partnership in 2019, and they have employed multiple students from the program. One of the students that recently graduated and received a Cornerstone position through Workforce Partnership is Carson Roesser, which tour participants got to speak with.
Ehemann mentioned the importance of MFG Day before presenting a proclamation to the company from the commissioners.
“Manufacturing Day is very important to us because Shelby County builds things. And Shelby County has the highest number of percentage engagement in manufacturing per capita in the state. So there’s tons of opportunities here in Shelby County, hope for you guys looking at ‘what can I do as I grow up, when I move out of high school, what can I do in my community, is there something for me to do,’ and I’m going to tell you there is,” Ehemann said.
“It’s funny that the name Cornerstone really signifies the building block and the backbone, which is what we do here in Shelby County. We manufacture, and we’re the backbone of the economy for not only the city and the county but the entire country,” Bowsher said. “It’s vitally important that we have these jobs here in our county. 11,600 people actually come into the city every single day to work, which is a pretty staggering number. I mean, take a look at Cornerstone and what they do. The next iteration is housing and building out Sidney and Shelby County, and you can’t build housing without Cornerstone.”
Other companies on the tour included Detailed Machine in Sidney and Lincoln Electric in Fort Loramie.