ARCHBOLD — For those just coming into the workforce, opportunities abound, and you don’t have to go too far from your front door in Williams County to land one.
In many ways that was the message presented to students at Northwest State Community College on Friday morning, as dozens of the region’s manufacturers set up shop in the atrium — and, in a tent in the parking lot — to share information about who they were and what they did.
Just about every major manufacturer in northwest Ohio was present for Manufacturing Day.
The event was billed as a celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. The overall goal of the event was to spark the imagination of students and give them a more concrete sense of what manufacturing is all about and to teach students about the opportunities available in northwest Ohio.
“The one thing we want to get across is don’t turn your back on manufacturing,” said Matt Davis, director of the Williams County Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO). “It’s not your grandpa’s factory. Those places are filled with modern machinery. A lot of them are very clean environments and you can find something that fits your pleasure right here.”
Davis’ agency, in concert with Northwest State, organized the event to introduce area students to the employment possibilities and opportunities available. Manufacturers in attendance pointed out that the jobs available offered good pay and a solid platform for building a life in the region.
“I think this is a great opportunity for our students to see what kind of jobs are available in manufacturing in northwest Ohio,” said Terri Westfall, a West Unity resident and teacher at Wauseon High School. “We have a hard time getting our juniors and seniors be open to going into manufacturing because they don’t always know all the jobs available there.
“A lot of these jobs do need college, but a lot of them are entry-level and the manufacturers in our area are begging for students to come and work for them. They will train them on the job. They need employees and they want them,” said Westfall.
The event featured automotive manufacturing, but industries were present as well.
Dana Yagle with Custom Agri Systems in Napoleon was present to answer students’ inquires about jobs in agricultural support.
“Skilled trades are just so sought after right now. We’re just needing people,” she said.
She noted that when people think of manufacturing, they don’t naturally think of agriculture. But there are many companies that provide services to agriculture that currently have a high demand for employees. “It’s not just field work or millwrights or electricians, we employ all types of people.”
Sabre — FWT, of Hicksville, presented a simulator for students to try their hand at welding.
Welders, Jason Dockery of Sabre noted, are in high demand today, as the nation’s power infrastructure is in the process of upgrading. “The electrical infrastructure is changing daily,” he said. “So, most of your power companies are going from some of your old lattice structures to tubular structures, and that’s where we come in.
“They are starting to transmit more power across the United States. We’ve got more windmills going up around the northwest Ohio area, and they have to have poles to transit that power. That’s where we come in.”
Dockery was there to tell students that there are area manufactures for which aptitude, interest and potential are enough to get you into the door and on your way to a good career and a good paycheck.
“It really just depends on mechanical ability,” he said. “Some people get wielding, some people don’t. If you come in, it may take a month or two for us to train you, to get to where you need to be on wielding our product.
“If you’re a welder, or have interest in being a wielder, come and see us in Hicksville. We will give you a weld test and see how you do,” said Dockery.
Manufacturing Day not only served to introduce tomorrow’s workforce to the jobs that will be out there for them, it also served to offer a landing pad close to home for those who will go farther afield for their future educational pursuits.
“Don’t turn your back on us because even if you have to go and get that training … don’t forget to come back because there are multiple opportunities in manufacturing here,” said Davis. “Whether it’s production or not, (local employers) need those special skills, they need those higher educated as well as production workers that can work their way up.
“Another thing to keep in mind, you’ve got a number of manufacturers that will pay for education. You join up, you start, you show you’ve got a good aptitude, you’ll get that education for free.
“That’s part of the message here,” said Davis.