High school freshman stand with their backs turned to the camera as a man in a black hat and neon green t shirt explains a process to them in a manufacturing setting.

2019 Manufacturing Day Tours in the Western U.P.

Press Release via Extreme Tool & Engineering

10/23/2019 – Extreme Tool & Engineering along with Jacquart Fabric Products and Ironwood Plastics hosted the Freshman classes from Ontonagon, Wakefield-Marenisco, Bessemer, Ironwood and Hurley for plant tours.  The tours coincided with the yearly “Manufacturing Day” initiative to show our youth the bright futures that exist in manufacturing.

This year’s event came from a late August quarterly meeting the three companies attend together to address shortfalls in the area’s labor pool.  This Western U.P. Continuous Solutions group, led by Kristin Smith of Northern Initiatives, proposed a Manufacturing Day event to the group.  All three companies jumped at the chance to meet & educate the Freshman classes from area high schools showing them good jobs exist here.  Michigan Works! Training specialist Leslee Hein reached out to Ironwood and Bessemer schools with Extreme reaching out to Ontonagon, W-M & Hurley schools.  Almost instantly all schools committed to the event and were excited for the opportunity.  The purpose of the visit was to showcase the wide array of different manufacturing businesses that exist locally and the multitude of jobs that allow the businesses to function.  Replying to Extreme’s Steve Hamilton’s comment on conquering the thought “no good jobs exist here,” Principal Daniel Niemi of Bessemer replied, “Our greatest export is our kids and we have to change that.”  For 6 hours all three companies provided a show and tell tour of their facilities to nearly 180 kids.  The tours demonstrated the products that are made and the skills the workers require to perform their jobs.  The event was centered around exposing the kids to the many different local jobs and educating them on what they need to be considered for the positions.  Extreme’s Chuck Hampston said “whether you want to move away right after high school to gain different life experience, we hope when you think about moving back you think of us and the employment potential we have here in Wakefield.” 

Additional help planning and supporting the event was Nannette Bell of NLighten Consulting, Savannah Dougherty & Leslee Hein of Michigan Works!, Kendal Kettle of Michigan Talent Investment Agency and Kristin Smith of Northern Initiatives.   

Ironwood Plastics enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their different product and the people it takes to make that product.  “It was a great opportunity to expose our young people to the careers in manufacturing that exist right here.  Careers that may or may not require a college degree” was what organizer Liz Justinak wanted to convey to the visitors.  Ironwood Plastics Technical Operations Manager Joe Manzanares enjoyed touring the youth “bring them in each year.  The more they visit, the better”.    

Jacquart Fabric Products jumped at the opportunity to participate in manufacturing day. Suzanne Pazdernik, Human Resource Manager, coordinated the event for Jacquarts and said, “We would never have passed up the opportunity to be able to show nearly 180 students the career opportunities right in their backyards. Those kids are the future of Gogebic County and we enjoyed showing them what we do here.”

Manufacturing Day was a great opportunity to expose our young people to the variety of future careers that exist in manufacturing.  They were able to view all the different areas within the facility, view what we manufacture and ask questions.  We hope that this experience will provide them a better idea of what careers are out there locally. – Ironwood Plastics

I believe MFG day went great! It was exciting to see so many students engaged during the tours. I’m excited about doing it again next year. It’s important to show our students what careers are available to them right here in Gogebic County, I’m grateful to the schools for allowing the freshman classes to participate in this. Hopefully next year it will be even bigger with some more businesses. – Jacquart Fabric Products (Home of Stormy Kromer)