"Want to come out to St. Francisville this Saturday and take a tour of the plant?" my dad asked me one night during dinner back in 1986.
Knowing that such a visit would cut into my sleep time over the weekend, I declined with the grace and panache of a teenager. "Not really," the response might have come out.
I still wince when I recall that short-lived conversation.
My dad had spent a year or so working at the River Bend Nuclear Station in St. Francisville, La., and I knew that it was one of his more memorable projects. Working as a union pipefitter, he typically found himself in petrochemical plants, but this was a different setting—a brand-new facility that was a marked achievement for energy generation in Louisiana. River Bend was the second nuclear facility in the whole state. He was proud of his contribution to the project.
I realize that now—not so much then. That's just the way that the teenage mind works, I tell myself today. However, that doesn't mean that a parent should stop reaching out to his or her children.
That's why metal fabricators have to be consistently committed to getting the message out to the younger generation about career opportunities they might find metal manufacturing. It's hard to get through to the average American teenager.
Oct. 5 is a prime opportunity to reach out to these young people and the community in general. This date marks the launch of Manufacturing Day, an effort sponsored by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The sponsors are encouraging not just metal fabricators but all manufacturers and their supply chain partners to welcome the public into their facilities and show the visitors just how manufacturing plays a vital role in the U.S. economy.
Ed Youdell, FMA president and CEO, calls Oct. 5 "the 'coming-out party' for U.S. manufacturers all across the nation." Indeed, several manufacturers are planning events to celebrate Manufacturing Day. So make plans to host an event or at least attend one of these tours. And if you are able to make a connection with students as part of the effort, that's a worthwhile endeavor. They represent the future of manufacturing; they just don't know it yet. If you keeping knocking on the door, eventually they'll open it up and at least listen to the message.