By Bob Sobolewski - President and CEO at ebm-papst Inc.
“There are only three ways that a country builds wealth – you make things, you mine things and you grow things. Everything else is ancillary to that.”
– Pat Lee, Fabricators & Manufacturers Association
U.S. manufacturers contributed $2.08 trillion to the economy in 2013. For each dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.32 is added to our economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. (National Association of Manufacturers).
Here in Connecticut, 4,826 companies employ 167,900 manufacturing workers who earned $12.4 billion in wages and salaries last year. Every $1 million in manufacturing output in our state translates to $2 million in sales in other industries, 8.3 new jobs and $700,000 in new personal income (CBIA).
With a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. — including companies that are insourcing jobs and facilities — you’d think we’d be riding high with no complaints.
National Metal Fabricators President Tom Bonine lists seven of manufacturing’s biggest challenges. To strengthen companies that make quality products and pay good wages, the National Association of Manufacturers urges our elected leaders to choose policies that make this country a better place to invest, a better place to innovate and a better place from which to export.
Having managed growth at ebm-papst Inc. for nearly three decades, I share the views of my fellow Connecticut manufacturers. Federal and state regulation, taxes, reduced demand, raw material prices, overhead costs and competition keep us up at night.
My view? There’s no production without education. As highly experienced employees begin to retire, I worry about preparing new generations for careers within our advanced manufacturing facilities.
There are solutions we should support, including innovation and training hubs nationally and locally. The National Network of Manufacturing Institutes has four of their 45 projected hubs up and running in in Youngstown Ohio (additive manufacturing), Chicago (digital manufacturing and design), Detroit (lightweight metals, and Raleigh, North Carolina (power electronics).
Here in Connecticut, three manufacturing centers offer a certificate in advanced manufacturing machine technology, while Connecticut’s colleges and universities offer some of the most competitive engineering programs in the country.
Our most important challenge? Convincing more than half of U.S. teenagers that their perceptions of manufacturing are false. What this means is that promoting manufacturing careers to high school kids isn’t enough. We have to start much earlier.
Is your company struggling to find qualified and enthusiastic people to help you innovate? Partner with your region’s engineering programs, technical training programs and centers. But also go deeper by supporting programs that help our young children embrace the excitement, fun and challenge of inventing and building things.
About Bob Sobolewski
Robert (Bob) Sobolewski is President and CEO of ebm-papst Inc. A member of many community and industry trade organizations and associations, Bob has been recognized for his support of educational programs, especially those that bring schools and the workplace closer together. He serves as President and Chairman of ingenuityNE and NE FIRST, Chair of the Connecticut Executive Advisory Board of FIRST, a member of the Fairfield University School of Engineering Executive Advisory Board, Vice Chair of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association Board, a Director of Okay Industries, Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Component Industry Association (ECIA) Foundation.