How to Score Big This Manufacturing Day

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

It may seem like Manufacturing Day (first Friday of October) is still far off on the horizon, but the time to plan is now. With schools getting ready to take their summer breaks, you should contact them now in order to make sure your company is ready to highlight the great careers available in modern manufacturing and the trades.

And while the official Manufacturing Day site has great tools to help you plan and promote your event, a panicked phone call I got on Friday gave me another idea to share.

Image via RCB Flickr

Fortunately the panicked call wasn’t from a client, and wasn’t an actual “emergency.” Nope, it was my introduction to the latest craze sweeping schools across the country: Fidget Spinners

Have you seen these yet? There are a host of variations, but the basic toy is a roller bearing with several counterweights that provide a spinning gyroscope for kids to fidget with, balance and generally mindlessly spin.

My daughters have been making their own with paper and pennies, Legos®, and more, but the 12 year old just HAD to have 18 of them to give out to the friends coming to her birthday party. My wife had tried several stores to no avail, but had heard a rumor she needed me to follow up on. Sure enough the store had them, cheap plastic, made offshore, but selling for $4 apiece, with a limit of 6 per customer.

…Three trips to the car and back (avoiding the managers gaze) later, I had avoided social disaster, and saved the day.

It occurs to me that these toys would be an incredible tool to promote local manufacturing, the trades, and hijack their current fame to expose kids to careers in manufacturing. Almost any machine shop can produce them, and show kids how they were programmed, cut, designed and assembled, all in a facility right around the corner from them. And best of all? You guarantee their attention, because you’ve shown the direct cross over between the world they live in and the work you do.

Perhaps for your organization, it isn’t a fidget spinner. But the idea is the same, practically apply the manufacturing that takes place in your facility to their lives. One of our clients, Viega, is well-known at plumbing trade shows for their bottle openers. They’ve made a bottle opener fitting that can be press connected to the PEX tubing that they make at their Kansas plant. The concept (among an of-age audience) is the same: Show them how something they find interesting is made and send them home with it.

All too often the skills gap is just that, a gap between “us” and “them” that is based on misconceptions. Manufacturing jobs are dirty and they make stuff I never use. Kids today are lazy and unmotivated. Here’s a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap, meet halfway and breakdown myths. Take something they find interesting, and show how with the right skills and training, they could do it themselves, rather than having to hunt for it.

Build that bridge!

For more ideas to get started on planning your Manufacturing Day event, check out our Tips for a Successful Manufacturing Day Event.

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