Women in Manufacturing’s Impact: Yesterday, Today and The Future

By | General, Manufacturing Institute | No Comments

As I think about iconic manufacturing women in history, I think about how much we have accomplished and how much potential we have to grow. Some of the greatest inventors, creators, and leaders in this world are women. In 1871, Margaret Knight was awarded her first patent for a machine that cut, folded and glued flat-bottomed paper shopping bags. In 1903, Mary Anderson invented and patented the windshield wiper. In 1908, Melitta Bentz received a patent for the coffee filter system. And in 1942, Hedy Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S. military during World War II. Her frequency hopping theory now serves as a basis for modern communication technology, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These women were preceded and followed by many more.

These women before me have forged a path for my career and success in this industry. I have always been fascinated by how things work, so I intentionally sought a career at a manufacturing company whose products transform the world. It’s helped me to understand the impact of industry beyond our national doorstep. One of the best things about my job is touring our facilities and watching raw materials become products; I am still awed by the deep science and engineering collaboration that allow Arconic’s innovations to emerge. That is the feeling I want every girl sitting in a science or math class to know—that each of them can help invent the next frontier of technology.

As Chair of the 2018 STEP Ahead Awards, I recognize the significant impact present-day women have made on this industry. Over the past five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals — from peers in the industry to school-aged children. With that alone, we know these STEP Ahead women have played a part in attracting, retaining, and advancing high-quality female talent in manufacturing, laying the groundwork for future visionaries, trendsetters, and go-getters.

While there is an underrepresentation of women in industry, I firmly believe that women will continue to rise to the occasion and create greatness—just as we have for centuries. Where would we be without the Hedy Lamarr’s or the Margaret Knight’s of the world? Where would we be without these thought leaders and innovators that have changed our lives as we know it? I am proud to be a part of an industry where women have played a significant part in shaping our current livelihood and will shape the future.

NAM and Pfizer Prescribe New Campaign to Close the ‘Skills Gap’

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FOR IMMEDIATE                                                                             RELEASE CONTACT: NAM Media Relations

New Medicine to Protect the American Dream: ‘Creators Wanted’ in Manufacturing 

NAM and Pfizer Prescribe New Campaign to Close the ‘Skills Gap’

Washington, D.C., September 4, 2017 – With more than 3.5 million manufacturing job openings expected over the next decade, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) affiliate, the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM and Pfizer today unveiled a nationwide media campaign as part of the NAM’s “Creators Wanted” initiative. The national campaign is a sustained effort to answer manufacturers’ workforce challenges by enhancing perceptions of modern manufacturing careers through advertising, digital targeting and storytelling about the people who represent the present and future of the industry.

The campaign features Pfizer colleagues at the company’s site in Kalamazoo, Michigan, showcasing for parents and students what’s achievable through modern manufacturing careers in the biopharmaceutical industry. The unprecedented attention on manufacturing in America—by political leaders and the press—has raised the stakes for America’s leading innovation industry to compete for talent and to spotlight the growing number of opportunities for lifelong careers in modern manufacturing.

“There are myths about manufacturing that we need to dispel,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “This is more than a public relations campaign. ‘Creators Wanted’ is an urgent call to action to inspire kids and their parents to see modern manufacturing anew. Too many Americans have lost confidence that they can lead lives that will exceed the dreams of their grandparents or that hard work pays off in the end. Modern manufacturing can unlock the potential of our people and our country—if parents and kids see what our jobs offer in terms of pay, career longevity, excitement and reward.

“For years, Pfizer has been a company that extends its work and investment far beyond its own interests—to lift up our industry and our people. Pfizer has been a valued partner of the NAM, helping us to be a forceful voice for manufacturing in the United States and the workforce solutions the industry needs. We are grateful to Pfizer again for stepping up and leading by example.”

The campaign is the first showcase of stories by a biopharmaceutical company to the NAM’s “Creators Wanted” initiative. In the eight months since the initiative’s launch, the campaign’s social media efforts have reached nearly 1 million individuals. “Creators Wanted” has brought together some of America’s top innovative brands and small manufacturers to demonstrate that modern manufacturing offers careers that are well-paid, highly skilled and diverse. Manufacturing careers allow individuals to raise their standard of living and make products that have a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

“As a U.S.-based, global leader in the discovery and manufacture of lifesaving medicines, Pfizer is proud to partner with the NAM on this important initiative,” said Kirsten Lund-Jurgensen, Executive Vice President and President, Pfizer Global Supply. “Our Pfizer Global Supply team—which includes skilled tradespeople, production colleagues, line operators, process engineers, quality control professionals, engineers, chemists and countless others—is committed to manufacturing high-quality medicines and making them available to patients when and where they are needed. Our colleagues are changing lives and saving lives, each and every day. I am inspired by our shared mission and honored to see our colleagues’ dedication and commitment highlighted through this program.”

As part of the NAM–Pfizer partnership, the campaign will drive attention to the stories of the Pfizer Kalamazoo “creators” and encourage parents and students to see firsthand what modern manufacturing looks like on Manufacturing Day, October 6, 2017, at the Pfizer site in Sanford, North Carolina.

“Unless we change minds about manufacturing, we will have more than 2 million jobs unfilled over the next 10 years,” said Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “Manufacturing Day and ‘Creators Wanted’ are our chance to turn the tide to convince parents and students we need the next generation and we have a lot to offer.”

For more information, visit


The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit

About The Manufacturing Institute

The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a nonpartisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit

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Young Manufacturers Told: ‘Think Video Games’

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A new employee at the Ruby Concrete Company in Madisonville, Kentucky, struggled to understand how to operate its high-tech production line that essentially mixes sand, rock, cement and water to make a host of concrete products.

“Think video games,” Kent Waide, company owner and president, told the 20 year old.

“It was like a lightbulb popped on,” Waide said. “He could suddenly see, ‘Yes, there is a progression or flow of production. It’s like a video game. You go from one level to the next, to the next, to the next.’”

Waide talks video games and workplace technology to connect with young employees and help keep his small family-owned company up and running in Kentucky’s western-coalfields region.

While many businesses come and go within five years, Ruby Concrete is nearing its 150th anniversary. The company is proud of its history as a scrappy innovator and survivor with primary markets in commercial and residential construction—and as a modern manufacturer that welcomes young workers wanting to learn.

Waide draws inspiration from those who ran the company before him, starting with John Ruby. An entrepreneur, Ruby began the operation in 1869 as a lumber company that obtained a contract to provide all the wooden ties to a railroad expanding through town.

Ruby’s family inherited the company and navigated it through the “Great Depression” by diversifying with a variety of new divisions, including ones for heating, plumbing, appliances and construction.

Waide said he again thought of the Rubys a decade ago when he struggled to survive the “Great Recession.” “If the Rubys could figure out a way to get through the ‘Great Depression,’ I could figure out how to get through the ‘Great Recession.’”

So, he took a hard look at his company and decided to build a high-tech plant that could run two shifts instead of just one and manufacture several new lines of concrete products.

It worked. Ruby Concrete became far more efficient. Its output soared 50 percent.

And the company transformed with the help of not just technology but also people.

“The employees we need now are different,” said Waide. “We need ones with specialized skills,” such as “mechatronics,” a technology combining electronics and mechanical engineering.

To help hire workers with an interest in creativity, teamwork and technology and ease the industry’s nagging “skills gap,” Ruby Concrete engages in joint ventures with area schools, including an annual robotics competition.

“Employers want young employees willing and able to work, and there are training programs in place to advance these young people to good, high-wage jobs,” said Waide.

On average nationwide, a trainee can earn from $35,000 to $40,000 a year while a skilled worker can get between $75,000 and $100,000 a year.

“Some people in the business are frustrated with the young people of today,” Waide said. “They say they just don’t have the same work ethic as they did years ago. But what we find is that they just go about things differently. You need to get them excited about work and things that they can relate to. This is a generation of video game players. And that is one way that we can relate.”

Waide points out that the story of what evolved into Ruby Concrete is the story of three generations of the Ruby family, followed by three generations of his family.

In the early 1940s, John Ruby’s grandson, Clyde Ruby, returned from World War II and began Ruby Concrete. In 1965, retiring family members closed the lumber company and transferred its assets to the concrete company.

When Clyde Ruby retired in the early 1970s, Waide’s father, Harry Waide, became president. Harry had begun work there in 1953 as a laborer. In 1982, Harry became the owner.

In 2012, Harry Waide’s son, Kent Waide, took over as president. His son, Jonathan Waide, 20, is just getting started, having worked there in recent years during his high school and now college breaks.

“We’re proud. We’re grateful,” said Kent Waide, who hasn’t yet figured out how the company will mark its 150th anniversary in 2019.

But he knows this: “We’ve been able to survive and remain independent through technology. To last this long, you need to endure a lot of hard knocks. You need to be tough. You need to take advantage of the innovation of the day and try to make the most of it.”

Power of Small: More than 90 percent of the National Association of Manufacturers’ 14,000 members are small to medium-sized businesses. These are our stories.

Canton Vote Shows Positive Culture and Collaboration at Nissan

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Last week, employees at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, sent a strong message by overwhelmingly deciding not to unionize. The campaign to unionize the Nissan employees lasted for months, but at the end of the day, the vote was clear and demonstrates that the positive culture and collaboration between employees and employers at Nissan should continue.

Nissan’s support of Mississippi’s manufacturing workers has helped the industry and the state’s economy grow again. Manufacturing in Mississippi now accounts for more than 143,000 jobs, with an annual compensation of more than $58,000. Manufacturing workers at the Nissan plant in Canton enjoy some of the highest wages, best benefits and most stable jobs in the state.

Nissan gives back to the community, donating more than $13.6 million to local charities and contributing more than 8,000 volunteer hours to more than 200 local organizations. Their investment in the facility has strengthened the county and state. The unemployment rate in Madison County is among the lowest in the state at 3.7 percent, while the region’s unemployment rate (5.3 percent) is less than the state average (6.6 percent) and the national average (5.5 percent).

The campaign is over, the vote has taken place, and now the decision of the employees should be respected so the employees and Nissan can continue on this path of success and good work for the Canton community.