RUSSELLS POINT – Scot McLemore is a man on a mission. He wants to change perceptions of how society views the manufacturing business in general and, specifically, how factories and those who work in them are viewed.
“The perception is that careers in manufacturing are undesirable and the plants themselves are dark, dirty and dingy,” said McLemore, manager of Technical Workforce Development at Honda of North America. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You could just look around today and see that’s not true.”
McLemore made these statements shortly after a group of students from the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center got a tour of the Honda Transmission Manufacturing facility just south of Russells Point on Oct. 2. This is part of a program that Honda initiated this year on National Manufacturing Day to reach out to local students – most of whom have only seen factories from the highway – and give them a glimpse of what goes on inside. Over the next several business days, students from Anna, Bellefontaine, Benjamin Logan, Botkins, Fairlawn, Indian Lake, Jackson Center, Kenton, Ridgemont, Riverside, Sidney, Triad, Upper Scioto Valley, Wapakoneta and Waynesfield-Goshen were scheduled to take the tour. McLemore and Honda hope to see these same students back in the near future as highly-skilled technicians programming and repairing the robotics and other high-tech mechanics that are part of today’s heavy industry.
“We opened some eyes today,” McLemore said. “There are a whole host of careers that are available in the manufacturing industry. We want to show the students what is out there for them and hopefully provide them some direction.”
The 1.1 million square-foot HTM facility goes a long way to proving McLemore’s point. It’s well-lit, open, airy, free of rubbish and other detritus. HTM is in the business of casting, machining and assembling transmissions for automobiles, so it is packed full of machinery ranging from impact wrenches to a machine the size of a pole barn that heats and cuts aluminum rods to spec for the various gears produced at HTM.
Much of what lies between these two extremes are technologies – robotics, pneumatics, programming, industrial design and a host of others – that are innovating at light speed and can be found throughout the HTM campus. McLemore and Honda are looking to local high schools for their future workers who can implement or even invent these new technologies and apply them at HTM or other Honda plants.
“It’s important for us to raise the awareness of the opportunities for highly-skilled, well-paid talent that are available right here,” McLemore said. “These tours are a way for Honda to show the students what a manufacturing career looks like in 2015. We went them to make the connection where they can combine ‘high tech’ with manufacturing careers.”
To that end, Honda invited representatives from all the area career centers and communities colleges to be part of the tour. Each of the schools set up a display in the state-of-the-art recreation and health center at HTM, showing the students a direct path from high school student to a highly-employable citizen with critical technological expertise.
“We’re looking for students who want careers where they can be innovative,” McLemore said. “Careers that pay well, careers that call for people who are continuous learners, careers where they can adapt and make changes.”
“Advancements are being made all of the time,” McLemore continued, talking not just about the automotive industry, but manufacturing in general. “We’re going to need highly-skilled talent to keep up with that.”
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.