Manufacturing Awareness Month: Let's talk about hands-on careers!

October 9, 2019
By Katie Sudler, Community Education Director

October is Manufacturing Awareness Month. As Community Education Director, I view it as an opportunity to talk about how amazing manufacturers are (both skilled and "non-skilled" workers, with or without a degree or training)!  Manufacturers are the ones that get the job done. They are producing goods for the rest of the world to enjoy. Careers in Manufacturing encompass a lot more than laborers alone, including: Engineers, Mechanics, Environmental Health & Safety , Welders, Purchasing agents, Production schedulers, Quality Assurance all the way to the people in manufacturing who actual combine ingredients to produce flavors.

Do you remember when you were younger?  Did you love to make things or build towers & forts, roads & houses? Did you love helping in the kitchen or in the garden? I remember playing with everything.  Life was one big playground! Why does that have to change as we get older?

Have you ever dreamed of your future job and pictured yourself sitting at a desk all day long, not moving or being active? Probably not! Most of us envision ourselves moving about our day, collaborating, interacting, solving, creating and developing things and sometimes actually making stuff. Have you ever considered a job in manufacturing?

Manufacturing, as defined by, is "the making of goods or wares by manual labor or by machinery, especially on a large scale." Making goods on a large scale takes a lot of planning, money, space and time! Manufacturing is all encompassing and depends on all levels of skill.

Manufacturing jobs & careers typically have a connotation that is less than glamorous. Some may think of repetitive, assembly-line tasks in less-than-ideal work environments.  That picture in your mind may have been the way it 'used to be,' but many jobs in manufacturing have experienced substantial change and have seen a heavy influx of technology.  Technology in manufacturing has improved working conditions; reduced redundancies; and has both automated and increased the speed of processes. Today, manufacturing jobs are often well-paying careers that can open worlds of opportunity

Careers in manufacturing are in demand, and sometimes very high-tech. Here at FONA, we have some pretty high-tech processes that require the machine operators to be trained to not only run the machine, but anticipate potential issues, trouble shoot problems, analyze solutions and fix the problem.

Q&A with Director of Manufacturing

I sat down with our Director of Manufacturing Lou Leon for a short Q&A about jobs in manufacturing.

1. What are some of the best things about working on a production floor? One of the best things about working on a production floor is there is always a challenge. Every day is NOT the same as the last. Yes there is a continuous run of the product, but that is where the creativity comes into play.  We challenge our operators to continually improve the process, the way they work and to think outside the box when they are faced with a problem. Thinking outside the box can help increase efficiencies and makes the production floor interesting.

2. What are the strengths of your team? There are many strengths of the team; one of the many are the openness to new ideas and different strategies for continuous improvements. The team is very transparent with their ideas on how to improve and approach issues on the daily run.

3. What skills are required to be successful on your production team? The one main skill I look for is attitude;  attitude is the willingness and desire to want to improve and learn. If there is a will there is a way! Most skills can be learned and taught but the attitude speaks volumes to progressing.

4. As someone in manufacturing, what are some of the ‘perks’ of manufacturing? A big perk in manufacturing is having the direct impact on the business and getting to see what FONA is creating. Manufacturing/Production employees works for 8-10-12 hours per day and physically makes products.  Seeing the conversion of raw materials to finished goods is the biggest accomplishment and perk to the job. It is a sense of accomplishment each day and our manufacturers are proud to say “ I did this!"

5. What types of training does someone in manufacturing need to have? In Manufacturing, on the production shop floor training, an employee should have basic training on trouble shooting equipment, a technical aptitude, ability to work with your hands and to think on your feet, to name a few.  For a manager/supervisor/line leader on the manufacturing floor skills would include; understanding production metrics (also known as KPI's, key performance indicators), lean manufacturing, financial spreadsheet comprehension, and analytical understanding, as some very basic skills.

Without our manufacturing team, FONA would not be able to sell flavors and some of the tastiest foods you love would lack flavor! If you like creating things, consider a career in manufacturing!  It's like getting paid to play (I mean make things-wink!).