Indianapolis — Charlie Braun wants to close the skills gap. And instead of just sitting around complaining about it, the president of Custom Rubber Corp. is doing something.
Inspired by the student-run Cardinal Manufacturing at a high school in Strum, Wis., Braun has taken the initiative to help develop a similar program in the Cleveland area. Braun was one of three speakers at the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference in Indianapolis in October discussing how to create excitement in manufacturing's future.
Braun, along with the principal of Shaker Heights (Ohio) High School, visited Cardinal Manufacturing in 2017 to see the vocational school turned student-run business in action.
“I returned to Cleveland with the principal determined to take action,” Braun said.
The process has been slow, he said, but they are taking little steps including adding to the curriculum and equipment for two new classes: metal machining and industrial robotics. He said the process of getting what is being dubbed Raider Manufacturing off the group is going to take five-10 years and approximately $100,000.
In the interim, he's doing everything he can to get students to understand what modern manufacturing looks like. He started a consortium of local manufacturing businesses that can give tours of their facilities. He said the consortium started out with high school students, but he eventually wants to branch out to middle school and elementary school aged children.
During the tours, students will often visit two different plants.
“The idea is to make every day Manufacturing Day,” Braun said. “I usually talk to them about how great manufacturing is, and our [human resources] folks will talk about pay and benefits. And they will go over some do's and don'ts of interviews.”
Then students get to see manufacturing in action.