The Made in Medina County effort launched in 2015 to educate resident, students, and businesses as to the economic importance and career opportunities of our manufacturing industry. The third Manufacturing Expo was held on October 4th and we took this opportunity to sit down with Made in Medina County!
Thank you for sitting down with us today and congratulations on the Expo!
MiMC: Thank you! As this was our third event we had pretty lofty goals and we were able to achieve them!
Q: Let’s start with the Expo. How successful was it?
MiMC: We were thrilled to have over 1,000 community members come out to the Expo and over 500 students. We had students from all seven school districts and both vocational programs in Medina County as well as Norton, Barberton, and Copley through the Four Cities Compact. We had a total of 87 vendors with 57 of them being manufacturers sharing what they make here in Medina County. We also had six interactive stations including Akron University’s polymer science program, engineering college and 3D printing, the Medina County Career Center’s Skills Boss, the Murphy Tractor heavy machinery simulator and the Tri-C Mobile Training Unit.
Q: It sounds like there was a great deal to do as an attendee and lots to learn! What did people come away with from the experience?
MiMC: People visiting the manufacturers got a chance to find out what we make in Medina County. It is amazing how many products we all use every day that are made here. Also the variety of processes involved is impressive. Talking to the people who get excited about cold forming or injection molding or other ways to create new products is hard to resist! A number of people attending also got new jobs. We’re still waiting on final numbers, but many people brought resumes and applied right at the show.
Q: That’s great! Have you had people get jobs in the past?
MiMC: Absolutely! One of our favorite stories is a student got a part time job while in school and then went full time as soon as school was out. So he went to a field trip and came home with a job! It is also a great opportunity for people unsure about manufacturing as a field to talk with the people who work there and get a sense of the opportunities. Manufacturing offers good jobs that include regular hours at a good pay rate and benefits. It is definitely worth checking out.
Q: Why do you think people don’t check out manufacturing?
MiMC: Manufacturing was celebrated through the 30s, 40s, and 50s. There were actually popular songs written about manufacturing in the 40s and it was vital to get people in those jobs through World War 2 and after. But through the next few decades, manufacturing got a bad reputation. And layoffs at plants became front page news. So people started turning away from those jobs.
Today, most people really have no idea what manufacturing is like. They don’t see it on TV or in movies, they don’t hear about it good or bad, and they don’t experience it directly. Kids don’t consider it as an option because they don’t know what they don’t know.
Q: What else has the Made in Medina County effort done to help solve this?
MiMC: The Manufacturing Expo is held every other year. On the off years, we hold Made in Medina County Day. We host plant tours all over the county and our elected officials are put to work in the plants! It is great to see how things are made and then it is great fun to see our elected officials being such good sports. We have had mayors welding and making candles, county commissioners working injection molding machines and making potato salad, and state legislators making brakes and running shipping equipment. It has really brought a great deal of awareness to manufacturing.
Q: Do you have students on those tours?
MiMC: We do! A number of schools send kids through and then we also do the Manufacturing Roadshow. The Roadshow is where we take an entire grade of students through plants to tour. We give them a pre-test and a post-test to see how their attitudes change. We find 83% of students change their opinion for the better in terms of looking at manufacturing as a career option.
Q: Is it difficult to get companies to open their doors?
MiMC: Not in Medina County! Our manufacturers want to engage with students and the community. Even companies that have corporate policies that don’t allow traditional tours have worked with us to get creative to bring people in. It is really vital for people to see how clean the facilities are, what the environment is like, and meet the people who work there. That is what makes it compelling to consider the work. When you meet someone who is happy in their job and enjoys the company, you want to be there too. Our companies totally get that and want to encourage people to think about manufacturing.
Q: Why would you recommend people consider manufacturing?
MiMC: So many reasons! First, manufacturing plants have a variety of jobs available. If you start at an entry level production position, you will be first to know of other opportunities. Rather than spend a lot of money on college not knowing what to specialize in and running up debt, you can start earning money and figure out what you like.
I know many people who are terrified of having to sit behind a desk 5 days a week. There are a number of manufacturing jobs that require standing and moving and not sitting behind a computer screen. Also something people don’t realize is a lot of manufacturing has variety to the work. You may move stations or have different activities you need to do. So it isn’t sitting in one place doing the same thing day after day.
In Medina County most of our companies are smaller. Even the ones that are divisions of larger entities. You get to know your coworkers and the management and are really a part of a team.
As mentioned before, pay rates tend to be higher and the hours are reliable. I know a bunch of people who sign on for more money per hour, but then only get 20-30 hours a week. And, that job comes without any benefits. In manufacturing, you typically get health insurance, some kind of retirement program, and more. Some companies pay tuition reimbursement, others provide meals once a month, and others do other events to celebrate their employees.
Q: If I’m a job seeker or interested community member, how do I get more information?
MiMC: We have a website provided by Proximity Marketing at www.madeinmedinacounty.com where you can get information on the events as well as profiles of some of our manufacturers and a directory. We’re always building on and adding to the website so check back often!