SIDNEY – United States Navy submarines, the world’s largest offshore drilling rig, NFL stadiums, Nike shoes, Clorox wipes and almost every car on the road all rely on Shelby County manufacturing.
Shelby County Commissioners Tony Bornhorst, Julie Ehemann and Bob Guillozet and Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership Executive Director Jim Hill visited Shelby County manufacturers Friday in recognition of Manufacturing Day. Fort Loramie Mayor Randy Ahlers joined them at Select-Arc, Inc. in Fort Loramie, and Jackson Center Mayor Scott Klopfenstein joined them at EMI Corp. in Jackson Center as they learned about the local companies and their contributions to industries throughout the world.
“Manufacturing Day is so important for Shelby County because 42% of our jobs by capita is manufacturing,” Bornhorst said. “We’re No. 1 in the entire state by quite a margin in the number of manufacturing jobs.”
Manufacturing is important to Shelby County, and Shelby County is important to manufacturing.
Select-Arc manufactures tubular welding electrodes that are used in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and South America. The company supplies products that are used in the automotive industry, shipyards, offshore drilling rigs, NFL stadiums, farm equipment and Navy submarines.
“Some very, very critical products are welded up with products made right here,” Select-Arc President Dale Stager said. “I guarantee you 90% of the cars running up and down the road, the exhaust systems were welded up with products made here.”
EMI, which makes automation equipment and maintenance products for the plastics industry, has thousands of customers in the automotive, medical, pharmaceutical and consumer goods sectors.
“Pretty much if somebody makes some kind of plastic, they’re a customer, everything from IBM down to Nike to every car manufacturer known to man,” Vice President of Operations Brad Wren said. “The GOJO, who makes the Purell hand sanitizers. Clorox wipes, Clorox is a customer. And then down to companies nobody’s ever heard of.”
Among the biggest challenges facing both EMI and Select-Arc is attracting employees.
“We do have a problem finding people, and I’m sure you’ve heard that,” Stager said. “Every person that I talk to is having the same problem. I really don’t know how we’re going to fix that. It’s getting to be critical.”
Finding employees has been an issue for companies throughout the county, Ehemann said.
“That’s part of why we try to recognize Manufacturing Day,” she said, “so that the community knows just how much of an integral part of our community that manufacturing is.”
Select-Arc employees approximately 175 people. Along with its 109,000 square foot facility in Fort Loramie, it also has operations in Troy and Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania.
Approximately 90 of EMI’s 155 employees work out of the company’s 110,000 square foot building in Jackson Center. It also has a facility in Troy.
The pandemic slowed EMI some, but business has picked up again.
“Probably a little over 50% of our business is automotive so this year has been a challenge,” Wren said. “But since things opened back up in May pretty much, it started to trickle through. We’re working overtime. We’re looking to hire people.”
Honda looked to attract future employees to its workforce by hosting two virtual Manufacturing Day events Friday with more than 3,000 students from more than 80 schools. The company also created a website, https://hondamanufacturingday.com/en-US, which features videos about manufacturing and information about the many career opportunities available.
Switching to a virtual event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Honda to reach more students, said Scot McLemore, who leads Honda’s development and execution of talent acquisition and mobility strategies.
“I think it’s very beneficial because the challenges for talent in manufacturing just continues to increase,” McLemore said of reaching more students this year.
Honda’s first livestreamed panel session included students from Ohio and Indiana, including Botkins and Russia. They heard from Honda employees at the company’s facilities in the Midwest, which includes the Anna Engine Plant.
The second panel session included students from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina hearing from Honda employees in the South.
“Honda will continue to look at ways to provide educators and students and parents with information about manufacturing,” McLemore said. “I really hope that we build off of this and figure out how to continue to partner with our local educators.
“We want (students) to be able to see themselves potentially in manufacturing.”
Workforce Partnership of Shelby County and the United Way are working with a new career coach in Shelby County schools to change the mindset that success only is available through a college education, Hill said.
“That person is going to be in the schools working with the seniors to try to advise them on a career pathway to try to get them directly out of high school into employment,” he said.
Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.