Kate Bachman Kate Bachman
Contributing Editor

Good Employees: If You Highlight Them, More Will Come

January 19, 2024
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Great concepts can crop out of unexpected places: corn fields; marketing agencies.

In trying to encourage young people to explore a career in manufacturing, a company could shine a little limelight on the ones who have. Award the cream of the crop, publish their photos and bios, and others will follow.

That’s the theory behind Manufacturing Mavericks, a recognition program cultivated by marketing agency Custom Direct, which works with small- to-medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to “create a digital presence,” say agency leads Nancy O’Leary and Geoff Bevington.

“While talking with clients regarding their ‘About’ website pages and company cultures, the workforce shortage kept coming up. Clients asked us what we could do on their websites to help recruit the next generation of manufacturing employees,” says O’Leary. “It’s uppermost on manufacturers’ minds.” 

“We thought, we need to be able to help them understand and picture what a role in manufacturing looks like,” adds Bevington.

The agency developed the recognition program with straightforward criteria. The candidates had to be working on the shop floor and have graduated from high school within the last 5 yr.—so, 18 to 23-yr. olds.

“I don’t want to sound crass, but we’ve had several of these discussions about the need to recruit a workforce, and the people sitting in the room…there isn’t a single student there,” Bevington points out. 

Planting the Groundwork for Recognition

The agency reached out to about 40 companies with whom they are connected and invited them to nominate young employees for the recognition.
The nominators completed a form with basic information and included a photo of each nominated employee at work. The nominees themselves were asked two questions: “Why did you choose a career manufacturing?” and “What has your manufacturing career done for you and your life?”

Of the submissions, the agency selected 20 notable employees to recognize.

All 20 were posted on the agency’s “Manufacturing Mavericks” website page with the manufacturers’ logos and hyperlinks, but the identities of the selected people were masked. “So, it became apparent which manufacturers had a winner, but viewers didn’t know who they were until the day of the reveal,” says Bevington.

Each morning for 20 business days in October 2023—the month of Manufacturing Day—the agency revealed a new maverick, both on its website and on social media. 

The listings also identify any programs or resources the students might have used, such as an apprenticeship, high school course, manufacturing camp or community college program. Those are listed on the agency’s website under “Resources.” 

In Their Words

The responses from the nominees were full and fruitful. “We expected to get just a pull quote,” says O’Leary. “We weren’t expecting the long answers and heartfelt insights that we received. Many of them talked about the opportunity that manufacturing provides for them, that they have career goals now, or that their company feels like a second family to them…that they feel inspired, encouraged and challenged every day.”

The recognized winners have become de facto ambassadors for recruiting new employees.

More…From Expected Places

I hope you were able to join me and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) workforce development team on Jan. 16, 2024, as I chatted with metal forming company CEOs Donna Kuhr, Steve Peplin and Lance Thrailkill, of PTM Corp., Talan Products and All Metals Fabricating, respectively. Each shared their unique and successful strategies to recruit, retain and train, new staff members. They have some great ones! Then, PMA’s Connie King and Mary Pramik informed as to which association resources are available, and which state and federal programs may be helpful in manufacturers’ pursuits of new talent. 

It all happened during MetalForming Live: Recruit, Retain, Train, Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. ET. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, please check out the recorded session by visiting www.metalformingmagazine.com/event/?/metalforming-live

Got thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. kbachman@pma.org

Industry-Related Terms: Form, Forming
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management, Training

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