When Greg Madden, president of Madden Fabricating, Portland, Ore., was asked in a recent interview if he would encourage a family member to go into metal fabricating, he provided an interesting response:
"I would definitely do that. Only a few years ago, there was a shortage of skilled trades labor because we had a pretty good economy going on at that time. We had some local efforts here to develop the skilled trades. Some of the high schools were trying to entice those kids that weren't going to college to consider the skilled trades. We had a need for it, and it made sense to promote the steel industry as a favorable career."
He also admitted that the focus—at least locally—has shifted from developing that next generation of skilled trades people. However that's not necessarily the case nationwide. Many of the large manufacturing companies continue to lament the dearth of welders and machinists, and I've read several accounts about local community college programs trying to step up and bolster their industrial technology programs in attempt to serve the needs of local manufacturers. Jobs, such as those in the metal fabricating industry, are being looked upon with a new level of respect.
That bodes well for all involved. Bright kids that might have considered following the typical college preparatory path in high school now might want to explore the world of making things in their shop class. Parents might not disapprove of a career in a manufacturing facility if they know the skill and knowledge that are required to do the job correctly. The approval rating for a career in manufacturing has to be much higher than it was only five years ago.
That's why it's important to continue to share the positive and impressive side of what's going on in the metal fabricating industry. People—inside and outside of the shop—need to understand that fabricators are an important resource to the local community and a vital part of the overall economy.
I encourage any metal fabricator reading this to let us know about your successful operation. The FABRICATOR is currently taking nominations for its Industry Award 2012, and it's the perfect opportunity to let your metal fabricating peers—and those outside of the industry as well—know the creative and impressive work being done in fabricating shops all over the U.S.
Nominations are being taken until Oct. 15. The winner, as selected by The FABRICATOR's editorial advisory board, will be highlighted in the February 2012 issue of the magazine and will have a plaque presented to them at The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit, Feb. 29-March 2, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Don't be afraid to step out into the spotlight. It's good for your company—and manufacturing as a whole.