On Friday, January 27th, 2017 Waukesha County Business Alliance hosted a business luncheon called the Manufacturing Voices. At this years luncheon a panel of guest speakers consisting of CEO’s and Presidents from a range of companies within the manufacturing industry, including our very own president, Scott Woida of Midwest Engineered Systems, Inc.
This year’s program highlights a panel of Waukesha County manufacturing leaders, who provide an overview of their business and participated in a Q & A session from the attendees. Topics included their company’s current success, what 2017 will bring, the current employment rate and how they are involved with education and introduction of millennials in the the work force and how the new administration will affect their industry.
Here are some examples of questions asked during the forum:
What is one of the biggest issues your company will be facing 2017? What keeps you up at night?
“For my company and me. We’re a fairly large engineering intensive company and we employ 80-90 engineers. The challenge we face is retaining a skilled labored force. We often get involved with local area collages and technical schools to educate and spark people’s interested in our industry and help keep engineering talent local and remain in Wisconsin.” Scott Woida, President – Midwest Engineered Systems Inc.
Automation is an industry often seen in a negative light for manufacturing; do you believe automation can support the manufacturing industry without taking away jobs?
“I’ve been in this industry for 26 years and from my perspective when I go into companies that are looking to automate, they rarely hide me away in fear that their current work force would replace their jobs. Typically what we are automating in those circumstances are the more mundane and repetitive jobs that require endless precision for quality sake. By automating a process that is cumbersome to a human being, this ensures accuracy every time and in some cases removes danger where safety is a concern.” Scott Woida, President – Midwest Engineered Systems Inc.
With our current administration and even our own governor looking at reducing regulations, if you had a say right now to someone here in the room who is trying to increase economic development, in let’s say Waukesha County, what would you say are great things that government can do to stream line your companies or make it easier to do business, from sending in taxes to regulations for example?
“From our perspective, the single biggest thing that would help us would be a wholesale change to the employment laws. The code around exempt versus non-exempt was written in the 20’s and labor has greatly changed since then. As an business owner, I cannot have a all salary work force. That’s what I want to do, but I can’t, because the government is preventing me from doing so with the laws on the books since the 20’s.” Bruce Neumiller, CEO/Founding Partner, Gearbox Express
“For me in particular, priority would be immigration. The immigration system is broken. I went through it personally and it took me ten years to gain residency in the states. Within those ten years I could only work for one company, so I was like a slave for that company because if I lost my job with that company I would have to leave the country with my family. If you want to bring talent from overseas or Mexico it’s extremely difficult. The process is cumbersome and there are no guarantees if you are going to get it and once you get it there is no security that it will keep you here. So we have a broken system from a talent level and of course the 12 million un-document workers. Even with employment verification, it is not that reliable and there is no guarantee.” David Gazzo, CEO, Felss Rotaform LLC