RUSSIA — This was the third year three manufacturers in Russia coordinated efforts to participate in National Manufacturing Day (Mfg. Day).
This annual event is designed to address common misconceptions by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after Mfg. Day, manufacturers can address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of industry as a whole and the effect it has on the local community and its economy. Approximately 40 sophomore students from Russia Local Schools were on hand to take part in informative tours that exposed them to the workings of the three businesses.
Superior Aluminum Products, Francis Manufacturing and O’Reilly Machine Tool Services welcomed the students and others to get a first-hand look at their manufacturing processes and what potential opportunities exist concerning employment. Mfg. Day is designed to not only amplify the voice of individual manufacturers, but coordinate efforts of the collective to share common concerns and challenges in informing the public about the scope of their businesses and the variety of jobs associated with them. The rallying point for a growing movement, Mfg. Day empowers manufacturers to educate the public so as to help their communities and future generations thrive and grow in a number of ways.
Superior Aluminum Products, 555 East Main St., was originally incorporated in Youngstown in 1956. The business was purchased by the late Tom Francis and Ed Borchers, moved to Russia and now specializes in manufacturing aluminum handrails with more than 50 years of quality service to its customers.
Francis Manufacturing Co. is a family-owned aluminum sand foundry at 500 E. Main St. Established in 1946 by Thomas V. Francis, it produces castings for a very wide range of customers and industries across the United States. The 165,000-square-foot, modern, foundry facility casts a wide variety of aluminum parts and employs approximately 150 nonunion employees.
O’Reilly Machine Tool Services, 560 E. Main St., employs approximately 30 people and specializes in a variety of services connected with custom metal-finishing and manufacturing and re-sharpening tooling for the machine tool industry.
Dustin Schemmel, marketing director of Superior Aluminum Products, was excited about the event and the potential it has to inform and inspire the youth in their community.
“A lot of kids live right down the road from our facility and have absolutely no idea about what goes on under our roof. The main purpose of Manufacturing Day is to reveal the truth about our manufacturing process, and there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. We want to encourage, engage and inspire our young people, whether they end up working here or elsewhere. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, and our hope is we can spark some interest and help them to see the big picture. I always enjoy hearing comments from the kids when they are intrigued or excited about what they see. That’s what makes this all worthwhile,” Schemmel said.
Doug Borchers, president of Superior Aluminum, was on hand to direct a tour of his facility. Borchers was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the local youth and encouraged young people who live in the area to contact Superior if they are interested in a career there.
“We have a lot of folks who have been with us a long, long, time. This is a great place to work and once people came here to work, the majority have continued to stay on. The problem we are currently facing is a lot of people are nearing retirement, and we’re looking for good reliable people to take their places,” Borchers said.
Dave Francis, with Francis Manufacturing, wholeheartedly agrees that inspiring and encouraging young people is one of the best investments anyone can make, and he enjoys interacting with the high school students who come for a look-see.
“We wanted to work with the high school students and let them know about the opportunities available here. We are the largest employer in Russia, and our facility is a good place to work and grow. We have a lot of great people here and are always looking for quality, dependable employees to join our growing business. We are very proud to be a part of this event and the effect it may have on the choices made by our young people. My father, Tom, loved his work, his employees and Russia. He invested heavily in a lot of ways, and though he is no longer with us, his legacy of community service is alive and well. We are striving to continue the level of expertise and devotion he had for all concerned, and we’re excited about being a part of today’s activities,” Francis said.
Shane Borchers, vice president, of O’Reilly Machine Tool Services, said, “School administrators had approached me in the past and talked to us about sharing the opportunities here, to show them what’s out there as far as pay scales, the skills needed to land the positions available and what they need to do to prepare for those opportunities. We have a lot of great people living in and around Russia, and our community reflects the work ethic that is a key part of why Russia is such a great place to live, work and grow. We live in challenging times concerning competition in manufacturing, and it is not always easy to find skilled, dependable people. We don’t have that problem here. We have a lot of good people who show up and do a great job. I’m very proud of our staff, and we want our youth to know there are a lot of great opportunities available if one has the necessary talents or is willing to learn them and can provide reliable service once they are a part of our team.”
Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann and Bob Guillozet were on hand and presented a proclamation recognizing the value and importance local manufacturing has in the state of Ohio and in the nation as a whole.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.