Mastering Misperceptions About Manufacturing

Editor’s Note: From a press release from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, whose president Steven Waguespack wrote a piece in these pages Monday touting the benefits of careers in manufacturing. LABI is fully engaged in promoting the acquisition of skilled trades, in advance of nearly $100 billion in capital investment planned for South Louisiana industry in coming years.

A national survey of teens showed the majority – 52 percent – have little or no interest in manufacturing careers, while another group – 21 percent – is ambivalent. When asked why, 61 percent of respondents cited their desire to pursue a “professional” career. On Friday, Oct. 3, nearly 1,500 manufacturers across the country will open their doors to students, teachers, parents, job seekers, and other local community members in hopes of changing this outdated misperception.

Manufacturing Day is designed to introduce as many people as possible to today’s advanced, sophisticated manufacturing jobs through aggressive marketing, public education, and partnerships among industry and academia. The annual event offers a wide range of events, including plant tours, job fairs and education programs to spread the message that manufacturing is a viable career option.

“Today’s manufacturing is about state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technologies, high wages and a skilled workforce. LABI is committed to improving our economic environment to make Louisiana the best place for companies to invest and grow their business,” said Stephen Waguespack, president of LABI. “Informing our kids of the many great opportunities and wage potential in manufacturing is yet another effective way to foster interest in a promising and rewarding career.”

The core element of Manufacturing Day is manufacturers’ open houses, where people can visit facilities and see that American manufacturing is a vibrant career path, and employers need skilled workers.

To kick off the celebration, we recently visited Steel Fabricators of Monroe, Inc., a 40-year-old company that fabricates structural steel for commercial and industrial construction projects nationwide. Housing state-of-the-art CNC structural fabrication equipment and software, Steel Fabricators recently upgraded one of the production lines with a new beam saw and drill system and added a structural layout machine to increase production. The company has also recently purchased some adjacent property to allow for expansion of the current 130,000 square foot fabrication facility to facilitate increased production capacity for the increased industrial construction announced along the gulf coast industrial corridor.

“Our company’s success lies in the dedication of our employees to always strive for excellence in everything they do,” said John Hunter, Steel Fabricators, Inc. president. “With more than $60 billion in announced projects in the pipeline, our industry must generate interest among the young people of Louisiana to consider modern manufacturing as a viable career choice.”

Some of the manufacturers LABI plans to visit on Manufacturing Day, include:

  • ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company, with an operating facility.
  • BEGNEAUD, a world-class precision sheet metal fabricator with more than 38 years experience.
  • Bell Helicopter, an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tilt-rotor aircraft.
  • John Deere, a manufacturer of agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment.
  • Morton Salt, a company producing salt for food, water conditioning, industrial, agricultural, and road/highway use for more than 160 years.

The LABI team will live tweet while touring facilities on Manufacturing Day, Friday, Oct. 3, using the hashtag #MFGDay14; follow @LABI_Biz to join the discussion. To learn more about Manufacturing Day, visit

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