WITH HV MFG STAFF
Reflections of People, Companies, Technologies, and Issues
The first edition of HV Mfg was published in April of 2013 by the Council of Industry with the support of Martinelli Custom Publishing and printed by long time Council member Maar Printing. It was 62 pages long and featured a leadership profile of Jabil’s Scott Hutchins and a company profile of AERCO International. There were articles on the skills gap, the Council of Industry’s participation in the TAAACT grant, supply chain strategies, local exporters, the formation of the Manufacturing Alliance of New York, and breakthroughs in nanoscience. It also included our membership directories and 44 advertisements.
20 editions later, HV Mfg has grown and evolved. Since 2016 longtime Council of Industry Associate Member and partner, Ad Essentials, has provided the design and layout services, content advise and helped us improve the magazine’s online presence. We have added and removed features and improved the directory layout and content. The magazine has, however, remained true to its purpose and that is to tell the story of Hudson Valley Manufacturing in a compelling and accessible way.
Publishing a magazine is no small undertaking, and the decision to launch HV Mfg was not taken lightly nor made overnight. The decision flowed from a short retreat the Council of Industry Board of Directors held in 2012. At that retreat, as at numerous others, we revisited the role of the Council of Industry and how best the association should bring value to its member firms. As always, networking and training were high on the list, as was advocacy.
Of growing concern to the directors was the skills gap and the perception that young people, the people who educate them, and the policy makers who guide that process were largely ignorant of what manufacturing was in the Hudson Valley – what we make, where we sell it, and who makes it. The perception that all manufacturing is “dark, dirty and dangerous” was prevalent. How could we best explain that, in fact, Hudson Valley manufacturing is safe, clean, and high tech?
The answer was to tell the stories of the people and the products that are Hudson Valley manufacturing. To tell about the technologies they use, the skills they utilize and the many challenges and opportunities in the sector. After some further discussion, it was decided the best medium to carry those stories was a magazine that would be supported by advertisers from the manufacturing community, be printed, and distributed to educators and policy makers throughout the region as well as to manufacturers.
The Council had, since 1991, published a membership directory annually that included a resource guide. The magazine would replace that directory and be published twice per year with the spring edition featuring the directory of Council members and Associate members, and the fall edition including the resource guide.
Products and People
Because the primary purpose of HV Mfg is to change the perception of manufacturing in the Valley, it was obvious early on that we should focus on the products we make and the people who make them.
We make cool stuff here in the region. Some of it is easy to recognize, like the bag of PopCorners you see at the grocery store or the mainframe computer that processed your credit card purchase. Others are less obvious. The cream filling in your doughnut, the computer chip in your cell phone, the equipment that is used to make the turbine of the jet engine of the plane you flew to take your vacation – or even a bearing on the arm of the Mars Rover that took that photo of the red planet’s surface you saw on the news.
HV Mfg has tried to share the stories of these products by exploring the processes and technologies used to make them and the people who employ those processes and technologies. We reveal the innovations that produced the products and how customers use them. Some of these companies are household names, like IBM and Konica Minolta, but most are small, privately held multi-generational businesses like Fala Technologies, EFCO Products, Pawling Corporation, and Fryer Machine Tools.
For the inaugural edition in 2013, we visited AERCO International in Blauvelt, Rockland County, the company that pioneered “on-demand” water heating and continues to provide innovative and energy efficient boiler solutions. Through the years we have not only revealed to our readers the wide variety of manufacturing that takes place in the region but we have also demonstrated what they all have in common – a commitment to innovation, quality employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.
A regular feature of the magazine has been “What Will We Think of Next.” Articles in this feature demonstrate the highly innovative nature of manufacturing. Some of the emerging technologies we covered were nanoscale manufacturing, driverless cars, exoskeletons, additive manufacturing, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
That commitment to innovation, quality employee engagement, and customer satisfaction that runs through our sector is the result of strong leadership. If there is one thing to take from HV Mfg, it is that leadership matters. In a nearby article, we discuss in greater depth the Leader Q&A’s that became a fixture of HV Mfg, but it is worth noting here that, while the individuals we interviewed each had a unique story and career path, they all seem to share a few things in common: commitment, consistency, a deep sense of responsibility, and genuine personal humility.
The More Things Change…
The issues facing Hudson Valley manufacturers that the magazine has attempted to bring into focus these past 10 years include, energy costs and reliability, international trade policy, technological innovation, and tax and regulatory policy. Of all the issues we cover, however, the skills gap and workforce development are by far the most prominently featured.
Two stories in the inaugural edition are indicative of HV Mfg’s coverage of this issue. The first, “Bridging the Skills Gap” seeks to clearly define the challenges Hudson Valley Manufacturers face.
“Our company has experienced explosive growth as manufacturing has increased dramatically in the U.S.,” says Larry Fryer, president of Fryer Machine Systems in Patterson, New York. “People need the machines we make to make their products. We’ve seen an influx of orders and have needed to hire machinists, welders, mechanics, electricians, technicians, engineers – a wide pool of more or less skilled tradesman. Our ads went unnoticed. For every ad we placed, we got maybe five or ten responses, and virtually none of the people were qualified.” Fryer confides, “We had such a great deal of difficulty in recruiting, we had to turn down over $3 million in business. Our business was up almost 24 percent from the previous year… but we left a lot of orders on the table – those deliveries went to competitors. It was very disappointing.”
The second article highlights an effort the Council of Industry is making to address the workforce challenge. “Building Tomorrow’s Skilled Workforce” highlights the efforts of community colleges in the region, working in collaboration with the Council of Industry and with the support of a grant from the federal government, to build programs to train skilled workers.
In the Hudson Valley region, the Council of Industry will partner with the five local community colleges to coordinate the effort with those in the manufacturing industry. “Our members repeatedly name workforce development as a key challenge to the success of their businesses. This grant gives us a chance to build a positive, lasting solution to this challenge,” notes Harold King, President of the Council of Industry. “Industry can’t do this alone and neither can the public sector. We need to work in partnership.”
The commitment to innovation, quality employee engagement, and customer satisfaction that runs through our sector is the result of strong leadership. If there is one thing to take from HV Mfg, it is that leadership matters.
Employers already working in the partnership include Advanced Coating Technologies, GlobalFoundries, IBM, Nixon Gear, Novelis, Currier Plastics, Schatz Bearing Corporation, Alcoa Fastening Systems, Remington Arms, Bartell Machinery, New York Air Brake, Corning, Dresser Rand, and Titan X.
Future issues would feature stories on the ongoing challenges and more of our solutions, including the P-TECH program and our own Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, the MIAP apprentice program, Pine Bush High School and the Gene Haas Foundation, Collaborative Recruiting, community college programs, and more.
If the magazine’s mission is to change the perception of manufacturing and build awareness of the importance of the sector and the opportunities it holds for the people of the Hudson Valley region we can only say that we have made progress but more work remains.
We now regularly hear that manufacturing is vital to our economy and national security. Companies are investing more in the U.S. than they have in decades.
We know much has changed since 2013. Recent years have seen renewed interest and investment in the manufacturing sector with policy makers and educators touting the viability and importance of manufacturing. We now regularly hear that manufacturing is vital to our economy and national security. And companies are investing more in the United States than they have in decades.
On the other hand, much work remains to be done. According to a Deloitte report, by 2030, 4 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed in the United States and 2.1 million are expected to go unfilled. The cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone. The frustration Larry Fryer felt in 2013 will continue into the next decade. HV Mfg will continue to spread the news that Hudson Valley manufacturing is here, thriving, and filled with opportunities.