County, local manufacturers poised to promote jobs
Manufacturing Day slated for Oct. 2
By Julie Snyder
MACOMB COUNTY — PTI Engineered Plastics in Macomb Township has for 32 years provided manufacturing jobs that have helped many local families live successful lives.
The days are gone when working at manufacturing companies was viewed as dirty, dingy work. Rather, now many large companies like PTI have evolved with the times and today provide a clean, healthy environment in which to develop and hone a wide range of diverse and challenging trade skills.
“It’s a different feel and a different look and a different process,” said Scott Kraemer, PTI’s directing manager for corporate design, new technology and its technical academy. “And there’s a lot more opportunities nowadays in manufacturing.”
That’s the word that officials with the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, PTI and a host of county-based manufacturing companies want to get out to local students through Manufacturing Day.
Maria Zardis, manager of special projects and outreach for Planning and Economic Development, said the county is revving up for another Manufacturing Day, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2, and is currently seeking area manufacturers to offer tours. She said that last year, the county held one of the largest MFG Day events in the country with more than 60 tours given to 1,246 Macomb County high school students.
“Last year was the first year we did this in conjunction with the MISD (Macomb Intermediate School District), and all 21 public school districts were involved,” said Zardis. “That made it the largest coordinated effort of its kind in the country.”
The tours offer students in grades 10-12 an opportunity to see firsthand what a career in manufacturing is all about, and the national campaign creates greater awareness about the importance of the manufacturing industry.
Zardis said 2,000 students are expected to participate in some of the tours — there are both morning and afternoon tours given. She said the local Manufacturing Day, launched by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel in 2013, is “an excellent opportunity to expose the next generation of workers to the many interesting and well-paying careers the manufacturing industry has to offer,” and keep residents living and working in the county.
Local manufacturers that participated in past years have included Proper Group International in Warren, Fisher Dynamics in St. Clair Shores, Fori Automation in Shelby Township, JB Cutting Inc. in Mount Clemens, KUKA Systems North America LLC in Sterling Heights, and Sequoia Tool and Manufacturing in Clinton Township.
Zardis said a focal point of some past roundtable discussions between county officials and local manufacturers has been the belief that not many kids today are being steered toward jobs in manufacturing.
“There’s a misconception that you need a four-year education in order to get a good-paying job,” she said. “College isn’t the right path for every student. There are other paths to prosperity, if you will.”
Kraemer, whose company was previously located in Clinton Township, agreed, saying he was one of those kids.
“We really want to get the youth to understand that there are many different career opportunities in manufacturing,” he said, adding that the tour will take participating students around every aspect of PTI, from the design process and the molding process to the business end with program management, accounts, and sales and marketing.
Kraemer also leads a series of free nine-week courses through PTI’s technical academy. The academy is held on Saturday mornings, and the first one starts Oct. 10. In the academy, participants learn all aspects of manufacturing and get prepared for working a trade outside of school. He said the academy, which is held during the school year, also gives students a chance to see whether or not such a career option is right for them.
PTI offers tours by appointment as well, and has provided tours to Macomb County educators in an effort to show them how they can teach students that everything they’re learning in school, specifically STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), is preparing them for jobs like those in manufacturing.
Zardis said this year’s Manufacturing Day effort is an ambitious one, as they want to beat last year’s record participation.
“The push is on to let these Macomb County manufacturers really inspire and prepare local students for the future,” she said. “These manufacturers are willing to make an investment in those students with the correct attitude and aptitude.”
To become a host site, local manufacturers are asked to contact Maria Zardis at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Sept. 1. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, and additional information is available at www.MacombBusiness.com or at (586) 469-5285.