I Rode My Motorcycle Across the United States to Visit America’s Manufacturers. Here’s What I Learned.

By August 31, 2018General, Shopfloor Main

As the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) director of photography and a former White House photographer, I’ve seen a lot of America. This past week, I drove my motorcycle from Washington, D.C., to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit America’s modern manufacturers in advance of Manufacturing Day and the Harley-Davidson’s 115th anniversary event. As I rolled into Labor Day weekend, I met amazing men and women who keep America strong through their manufacturing careers. You can learn more about the cool innovations and opportunities the manufacturing industry creates by participating in Manufacturing Day this October 5.

Here are the top-five things I learned on my ride:

1. Combat veterans can find awesome careers as modern manufacturers.

Meet combat veterans Trent, Christian, Timothy, Trevon and Andre. Collectively, they have six medals of distinction, a silver star, a bronze star, a Purple Heart, a commendation from President Bill Clinton and a passion for manufacturing. By joining the Flags of Valor team following their impressive military careers, they not only found well-paying, high-skilled jobs but also rewarding manufacturing careers. The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute are working to help veterans like these find a new career in manufacturing through the #HeroesMAKEAmerica program and by exposing more people to the industry during Manufacturing Day.

2. Manufacturing jobs can call for high-tech skills.

Calum at PPG has a Ph.D. in chemistry. With his research and development expertise, Calum is leading a team to find the best kinds of paints and coatings for autonomous and electric vehicles. Who knows, your own car may be coated with Calum-designed paint one day!

3. Manufacturers need a new generation of creators.

Meredith “just loves building things!” At Lincoln Electric’s Welding School, she’s learning how to combine her passions with a future career in manufacturing. Programs across the country like this are working to attract, train and retain a new generation of creators.

4. Innovation is driving modern manufacturing.

You may have heard of the autonomous car, but have you heard of the autonomous tractor? The manufacturing team at CNH Industrial is changing the tractor game, leading future innovation.


5. Manufacturing has made and will continue to make America strong.

Well-known manufacturers like Harley-Davidson and newer manufacturers alike have a rich history in America and will continue to because of the talented workers who make these bikes possible.

For more photos from my trip across the country, check out the NAM’s Instagram page.

America needs more manufacturing workers, in part because manufacturers have been doing so well. This manufacturing workforce crisis will only continue to worsen as we move into the next decade. Right now, manufacturers in the United States have nearly 500,000 open positions, and the workforce crisis is only projected to get worse with the industry having to fill millions of open jobs in the coming years. While companies like PPG, Lincoln Electric, CNH Industrial and Flags of Valor are working hard to engage with a new generation of employees, they can’t do it alone.

And this is where you come in. To the manufacturers reading this, open your doors and inspire your future workforce by showcasing your facility this Manufacturing Day. To those looking to find manufacturing careers, visit one of the Manufacturing Day events near you.

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