Crescent Industries Inc. recently hosted its first Manufacturing Week, offering local high school students a first-hand glimpse into its processes and the myriad job opportunities available in manufacturing.
Kevin Allison is vice president of marketing for Crescent Industries, a third-generation employee-owned injection molding company that has been in business since 1946. It has 145 employees across 3 facilities in New Freedom, Pa. He noted that the event, held over four days in early October, attracted 160 students from eight different high schools and two colleges.
The event at Crescent Industries was held in conjunction with the seventh annual national observance of Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5, an effort to expose students to the wide range of available skilled positions available in manufacturing.
"Manufacturing has been neglected for at least the last decade," Allison said. "Many of the students had no idea just what manufacturing is like today. They thought it was a dark and dirty job for the uneducated."
After reading anonymous surveys the students provided after the tour, it became clear to Allison that the program made an impression.
"It opened their eyes," he said. "They realized that there are real career opportunities in manufacturing."
And fears that automation will take away all the jobs in manufacturing are quickly dispelled during a tour at Crescent Industries or any manufacturing facility, in plastics or elsewhere.
"Automation doesn't have the thought process that is critical," Allison pointed out. "It can't problem solve and it can't be innovative."
The tours lasted approximately two hours and provided students with insight into careers as a mold design engineer, journeyman tool maker, process engineer, automation engineer and quality engineer. Students also received information on a memory stick that they could access at home and show their parents.
During the tour, students also had the opportunity to interact with Crescent employees who shared with them their story on how they got into manufacturing and what their main roles and responsibilities are.
"Our employees are passionate and they enjoy their work," Allison added.
The students were perceptive enough to pick up on this and commented on that point in anonymous surveys.
Like many manufacturers across the country, Crescent Industries views events like this as an opportunity.
"We want to do our part to inspire the next generation of manufacturers," Allison said. "We can do this by showing the opportunities that are available."
Allison noted that while Crescent isn't going to have opportunities for every student who participate, each student was able to gain insight into career opportunities and the company is developing a network with local high schools and colleges.
"When we need someone, we can then go to these schools and find a person who would be a great fit for our culture," he said. "It is a win-win for everyone."
Allison added that it can be important for students to be exposed to manufacturing even before high school. He noted that grade school-age boys and girls should be offered hands-on courses that help them develop the skills used in manufacturing.
The tour itself was a win-win for both the students and the company. Allison said he hoped that students went home and talked to their parents about the opportunities.
"We find that manufacturing just isn't talked about," he said. "Events like this start a dialogue. This is just the start."