Fostering Pride in Craftsmanship in Michigan

By November 2, 2006Report from America

shoprat.jpgTwo businessmen from Michigan were in town the last few days and paid us a visit at NAM. It’s nice to have a dose of the real world here in Washington, especially during the last week of a zany election marathon. It serves as a reminder that what really makes the country hum happens outside the Beltway.

Chris Salow is the founder of SMW Manufacturing, which makes cold formed products for the heavy truck industry in Munith, Mich.. While Mr. Salow is a very astute entrepreneur and business manager, his true passion is in fostering among today’s young people a stronger appreciation of the skilled trades, which make today’s modern manufacturing possible.

He has named his pro-manufacturing group Shop Rats Associates to appeal to younger men and women. He says that while some may think that getting their hands dirty and making new things is not the future, Salow points out that you can’t have a modern industrial nation without such inventive individuals. Shop Rats are offering hands-on programs that allows young people interested in manufacturing careers to work with both their heads and their hands to solve problems, create and innovate.

Our industrial society is built on the skill and inventiveness of shop rats. They make sure the equipment that builds cars and refrigerators runs efficiently and when it breaks down, they bring it back on line. Up in space, when the International Space Station needed fixing, shop rats–astronauts in this case–used their shop rat skills to fix it. Soon even the Hubble Telescope is going to need a tune up to keep running and you can be sure they won’t be sending lawyers and accountants, politicians or entertainers up there to fix it. They’ll send men and women who are shop rats.

Other communities around the country are coming to understand that these skills are key to our future as an industrial society and are taking steps to bolster skilled workers. NAM and The Manufacturing Institute have created Dream It. Do It. to advance interest in manufacturing careers among young people. We congratulate Chris Salow and his team. To learn more about Shop Rats, click here.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Chris Zucker says:

    Thank you for affording Chris Salow the time to present Shop Rats and for your support of their vision. I started my career as a Shop Rat and today I’m the V.P. and General Manager of a manufacturing operation (I’m still a Shop Rat after hours and on weekends). I think it’s wonderful how Shop Rat’s plans to stimulate interest within our youth and know their vision will benefit us all one day. I personally have committed my time and energy to support Shop Rats however I can. Thanks again for your support.

  • brian copes says:

    This is the most exciting and innovative training program that I have seen.