Last week was a busy one for Toshiba Machine Co. America, as the company hosted a conformal cooling conference, followed the next day by a technical event for customers. The golf outing was Thursday. The week ended with a bang on Friday Oct. 2 — Manufacturing Day.
Manufacturing Day has grown quickly in its short history. Toshiba jumped in for the first time in 2014, and was back at it this year, hosting one busload of school kids after another.
Last year, David Gutierrez Bahena walked into Toshiba in Elk Grove Village for Manufacturing Day. And he got hired, as Toshiba start an apprenticeship program.
Gutierrez Bahena, now 22, had worked in a warehouse straight out of high school. He also was a machine operator making brass parts for the medical sector. He enrolled in a state program, and visited and interviewed with several other companies in the industrial hub around O'Hare International Airport. But Toshiba — plastics machinery — stood out.
“Toshiba liked my resume and the way I presented myself,” he said.
It started on Manufacturing Day. Mike Werner gave a little speech. Werner is a great example of the type of mechanically inclined people the plastics industry is seeking right now — and talking to him at Elk Grove Village was like a trip back in time.
“I'm a college dropout. I started going; it wasn't really for me,” Werner said. Then Toshiba came along,” Werner said. And his college was free — paid for by his employer at the time. Free or not, college still wasn't a good fit.
Toshiba hired Werner in 1986 and got him on the injection molding machines. He didn't know what injection molding was! Well, today Werner is senior technical and key account manager.
With a high school education. That was almost 30 years ago! It sounds like today.
“I give Toshiba a lot of credit for that,” Werner said. “Yes, we know we have to have experienced people blah, blah, blah.” But they also noticed that long ago that industry needs to attract young people. Even it means taking a chance. He remembers the Japanese guy interviewing him saying that hard-working people with mechanical interests are attractive.
Now Gutierrez Bahena is providing the young blood, as a field service engineer in training. He speaks Spanish, important since Toshiba America covers Mexico, parts of Latin America and Brazil. He's going to travel. A lot.
What sparked his interest at the 2014 Manufacturing Day? “I really liked the fact that I was going to learn. When they opened up the cabinets on the machines, and I saw all the electrical stuff — when I saw that, that's the one thing that caught my attention the most,” Gutierrez Bahena said. “And using tools. I love taking things apart and putting them back together.”
Werner does too: As a youth, he did that with car motors, sometimes to his father's chagrin.
So Werner can relate to Gutierrez Bahena. He sees himself as a young guy.
“We need people that we can teach to be good, customer-service-oriented individuals who can work on machines, to represent us,” Werner said.
Werner said the young man was quiet, but seemed very interested, at that first Toshiba Manufacturing Day a year ago. You never know who's going to walk through the doors when you open them up and give people an opportunity.
Down in Texas, Royal Technologies Corp. hosted a group of local high school students to its injection molding plant in Mission, for Manufacturing Day. They toured the company's modern, automated factory and talked to employees, including Trung Nguyen, the plant manager, according to a local newspaper report.
The high schoolers got a first-hand look at manufacturing in 2015. As Toshiba's experience shows, there's a chance at least one of them will choose Royal Technologies for a job, a career.