Local companies involved in Manufacturing Day

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Windsor Star/Dave Hall

Three Windsor-area companies are opening their doors to students on Friday, Oct. 4 to promote manufacturing as a career.

Reko International Group, Radix Inc. and Platinum Tool Technologies are all part of a Manufacturing Day initiative which will see similar tours conducted in more than 500 locations across North America. "The goal is to educate more students about manufacturing as a career and our team here at Reko sees it an a great opportunity to showcase our operations," said Reko CEO Diane Reko. "We've put together a pair of 45-minute tours which won't disrupt operations or create any safety or proprietary concerns. So we're looking forward to it.

"I think it's a great opportunity to get some students into our plant and show them what manufacturing is all about today," said Reko. "The days of old-school tool-and-die shops have past and I think many students will be amazed at the level of computerization in today's manufacturing plants."

The initiative is supported across North America by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Manufacturing Institute, Industrial Strength Manufacturing and the Science Channel.

"Attracting people to skilled trades and manufacturing has been a real challenge since before the recession hit. And the speed at which baby boomers in that sector are retiring means this will be a decades long problem," said Pat Lee, director of marketing for the Fabricators association.

"This rush to retirement will not slow down so our initiative hopefully will give students an opportunity to see first-hand what manufacturing is about rather than relying upon what they hear and what they read," said Lee. "This is not a dirty, dangerous, dark business anymore and the proof is there to see."

For Radix, it will be an opportunity to show off its new building at 5140 8th Concession, a move which will be completed five days before the tours begin. "I never get tired of telling people we hire engineers, programmers and software developers and that it's a highly specialized field we operate in," said Shelly Fellows, a partner at Radix. "This will give us an opportunity to show people exactly what we do."

The involvement of Windsor-area companies is being coordinated by Michelle Beemer, a career pathway educator at Workforce Windsor Essex.

"It's a way for these companies to communicate directly with students and for students to see exactly what today's manufacturing plants look like," said Beemer. "We've worked with the public and Catholic school boards to put together groups for these tours and they came on board very enthusiastically."

Beemer said that two more local companies are in the process of joining the initiative as well: A.V. Gauge and Fixture and Electromac Group.

Ed Kotevich, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program coordinator for the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the program is a "great way to introduce students to manufacturing.

"We're taking this opportunity to try and expand our range and reach an entirely new set of potential manufacturing candidates," said Kotevich.