Match Made in Manufacturing

Convertech Owners Bob Gensheimer and Larry Taitel

Convertech Owners Bob Gensheimer and Larry Taitel

As the 40th anniversary of Convertech Inc. is rapidly approaching, let’s take a moment to reflect on the adventures and pivotal moments that have brought Convertech to where it is today. Today, Convertech is owned by Bob Gensheimer and Larry Taitel but their story began in 1978.

In 1978, while working with their primary company Landice Products, a treadmill manufacturer, Charles (Chuck) and Ina Taitel established Convertech Inc. with a fresh, new and innovative design for chucks and shafts. Shortly thereafter, Bob, who was just beginning his high school co-op program as a machinist at Landice Products, was brought onto the Convertech team. Bob became Chuck’s “right hand man” in no time while Chuck and Ina’s son, Larry, was serving as the financial controller for Landice Products during his time in college and graduate school.

After Landice Products was sold in 1986, Bob was for the most part buying and assembling parts alone for the next three years with a biweekly visit from Ina to pay the bills. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Taitel’s decided to fully retire but Bob and Larry were ready to take over the company. They were the perfect match as their strengths complimented each other. Bob handled most of the engineering side while Larry used his knowledge of the machine shop to market and run the business. Larry also used trade magazines to establish the Convertech name in a growing industry.

As co-owners of the company, Bob and Larry hired their first two machinists and operated their business out of a 1,800 square foot modified two car garage in Dover, NJ but the company grew very quickly. In 1991, their growth lead them to move into a 6,500-square foot building in Denville, NJ.  But they outgrew that space after only four years of their five-year lease. Finally, in 1995, Bob and Larry with their now 10 employees, moved the company to a 10,500-square foot space in an 80,000-square foot building in Wharton, NJ, where the company currently resides.

Convertech moving to the Wharton location was an important moment for the company. This was the time when Bob and Larry decided to keep all production under their control. Keeping production inhouse allowed them to maintain the high quality standards, reduce lead times, and keep their costs down. Bob and Larry’s decision changed everything for the better, especially for their customers.

Convertech Inc has now expanded to 40,000 square feet within the building, housing around 50 employees. In about 40 years, two men have taken the company and brought it to the success it is today. There are so many doors of opportunity to open and it will be exciting to see what the future has in store for Convertech Inc.

 

Passaic County Technical Institute’s Visit to Convertech

Friday, May 19th was a great day at Convertech Inc. We had the pleasure of hosting Passaic County Technical Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Students.  Passaic County Technical Institute’s Manufacturing Technology program is one of the top manufacturing education programs in the state. Throughout their high school career, the students get hands on experience with the tools and equipment they will use once they graduate. And their program track gives them the opportunity to take their skills and knowledge to college or begin their career right after graduation. Convertech was excited to have the opportunity to educate and inspire these students to continue their manufacturing career path.

The Passaic County Technical Institute students and faculty were led on a tour of the facility by Convertech owner Larry Taitel and one of Convertech’s machinist, Angel Montiel. The students were taken behind the scenes to experience the day to day operation of Convertech’s machine shop. At the end of the tour, you could tell the students enjoyed their time and Convertech was grateful that the program was able to take time out of their day to visit the shop.

Convertech is an advocate for manufacturing education and is always willing to open their doors to manufacturing students to help. To inquire about scheduling a visit for your manufacturing program, please email admin@convertech.com.

Appealing to the iGeneration

Appealing to the iGenerationAccording to Forbes, the Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration or iGens, has an estimated attention span of 8 seconds. That means that by the time you have finished reading this sentence, they have moved onto the next thing. The iGens have been brought up in a world with a massive amount of information, and they can quickly and impressively filter through all of it. This gives them the ability to quickly shift from one topic to the next, leaving a very small window of time to appeal them.

The iGeneration includes anyone born after 1995 and according to CMO by Adobe, they are a “quarter of America’s population” and still growing. This group of people has been called the iGens because they are the first to have the internet readily available to them at such a young age. This is the next group of people many employers and educators will have to reach. They are now at the age where they are selecting career paths, going on interviews, and starting their professions. Pretty soon, it will be one of the first times where three generations and potentially four generations, will be working alongside one another; Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and iGens. This opens many opportunities for the workforce, particularly the manufacturing industry.

So how can manufacturing appeal to the iGens? Fortunately, it looks like they already have an interest.  Deep Focus wrote that iGens are “interested in building key skills at a young age… 89% say they spend part of their free time in activities they consider productive and creative”. This exemplifies the foundation of manufacturing. Being creative, productive and making things is where it begins.

Manufacturing gives the iGens an opportunity to be productive and creative and harvest their passions into a career.  Once the iGens are aware of what is available to them, the possibilities are endless. Having a balance between promoting manufacturing in a way that appeals to the iGens, and staying true to the core fundamentals of manufacturing is key. It will lead the path to bridging the skills gap in the manufacturing industry.

 

FIRESTORM Asks the Important Questions to Help Your Business

FIRESTORM Webinar“FIRESTORM is the nationally recognized leader in Crisis Management, helping clients minimize disaster exposure and plan for crisis”. On April 12th, the NJMEP and FIRESTORM hosted a webinar on the Intelligence Network. At this webinar FIRESTORM proposed several questions that allowed business owners, management officials, and supervisors to open a discussion regarding the level of readiness their businesses have to assess and resolve situations. Even for those who already have a preparedness plan in place, they also allowed those businesses to explore areas of evaluation.

FIRESTORM asked us to consider the worse possible events that could happen; would your business be ready to handle it? What if a hurricane, a public brand damaging event, or a loss of a major supplier were to occur; do you have an action plan in to help assess the situation regardless of the caliber of the event? The questions asked allowed each person attending the webinar to reflect on their own business and make adjustments they see fit, if necessary.

FIRESTORM also pointed out that major events do not only affect businesses. They can affect other communities, environments, businesses, or business constituents that could indirectly impact your business. It could cause a ripple effect and FIRESTORM opened the conversation of being prepared to ride the wave.

But businesses should not only focus on how to prepare for internal effects but prepare for the external effects as well. Knowing how to stay informed and how to inform others is key; regardless of how big or small the situation is or how big or small the business is. FIRESTORM reminded us to “stay in the know” so that situations do not escalate once the information reaches the public. Especially now that social media is at the forefront of information sources. Having a preparedness plan, or evaluating an existing plan, is something that all businesses should think about from all angles. Thank you to Firestorm for reminding us of that.

FIRESTORM has opportunities for assessments, analysis, training and communication. If you would like to know more information, please visit their website at https://www.firestorm.com/.

3rd TIP Meeting Was A Great Success!

TIP Meeting PhotoThe North Jersey Targeting Industry Partnership (TIP) was established to develop entry level workers, increase qualified employees, and build capacity in the manufacturing industry. The 3rd North Jersey TIP meeting, held on March 9th at the Sandvik Coromant Company, was a great success. The room was filled with manufacturers, employers, and educators all excited to join the efforts. Ultimately, this partnership strives to give manufacturers an opportunity for their voices to be heard which makes it great to see the number of attendees grow from meeting to meeting.

The TIP meetings open the discussion for different ways to promote the manufacturing industry and educate others about it. There can be a misconception that the manufacturing industry is a “dark, dirty, and dangerous”  career path when there have been many advances in the industry that ensures a safe and healthy working environment. And in fact, there are so many advantages and opportunities that the industry can bring today.

College is a great option for students but many people, teachers and counselors included, are not aware that students have the option to pursue an excellent career in the manufacturing industry right after high school. The members of the North Jersey TIP are continuing to look for different ways to build awareness. There are three committees within the TIP that focus on different areas to achieve the larger goals. The Evaluation/Industry Needs committee assess the needs of the industry, the Pathway Development committee evaluates the existing manufacturing education programs, and the Marketing Outreach committee brainstorms and implements different strategies to promote the manufacturing industry and education programs. Together, these committees will help to strengthen and progress the manufacturing industry in NJ.

Along the way, other opportunities for everyone to get involved are brought up during the meetings. The New Jersey Manufacturing Talent Network, who sponsors the North Jersey TIP, will be co-hosting the Manufacturing Network Webinar with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Wednesday, March 22nd at 3pm. This webinar is open to all administrators, teachers, and counselors and will “provide an overview of the manufacturing industry in New Jersey and the various career pathways that exist within students with differing levels of educational attainment and skills”. At the webinar, three manufacturers will be presenting, giving them a direct line of communication to the educators. The first step in any type of advancement is communication.

It was also announced that Friday, March 25th and Saturday, March 26th will be the 3rd year celebrated as NJ Makers Day. NJ Makers Day is celebrated “to enhance community engagement and develop connections among New Jersey residents by collaborating with multi-type libraries, museums, small businesses and others to promote and explore new opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and hands-on learning experiences.” NJ Makers Day is a great way to get the community of all ages involved and bring excitement about manufacturing.

The North Jersey TIP is a great partnership to get involved with. For more information please visit http://careerconnections.nj.gov/careerconnections/partners/talent/targeted_industry_partnerships.shtml.

Manufacturing Apprenticeships to Benefit New Jersey

manufacturing apprenticeshipsIn any successful business, after a demand is established from the consumer, you cannot increase revenue without increasing production. It’s a simple relation of the law of supply and demand. But it can be difficult to increase production without an influx of skilled employees, which can be the case in the manufacturing industry. An effective way to resolve this matter is through manufacturing apprenticeships.

Manufacturing apprenticeships give students and future employees a learning experience inside the trade; it acts as a paid training program. Max Daetwyler Corp. was recently featured in an article on TechTarget’s website for participating with 5 other North Carolina Manufacturers in a program called Apprenticeship 2000. This program is “a four-year program of community college classes in mechatronics and advanced manufacturing coupled with paid worksite apprenticeships”. What makes this program stand out above other manufacturing apprenticeships is that they have an extended eight-month interview process where students attend an open house and an orientation to be evaluated on their skill level. After review, the accepted students will participate in the six-week summer trial period and if qualified, will be offered the apprenticeship. It is a long process but it insures that the program is a good fit for the students and that the students are a good fit for the program.

Apprenticeship 2000, as well as other manufacturing apprenticeships, bring great opportunities for companies; especially for those looking to hire more skilled employees and expand their company. Once manufacturers in New Jersey have established a registered apprenticeship program, the sponsoring companies would be able to hire skilled employees that they personally train on their equipment and machines. And students will have more incentive to not only continue with the trade post-graduation, but inspire students to enroll in manufacturing programs. New Jersey manufacturing could highly benefit from programs like these.

Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP Meeting

Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP MeetingOn Thursday March 2nd, the Evaluation/Industry Needs Committee, a part of the North Jersey Targeted Industry Partnership (TIP), met following up from the last committee meeting on January 28th. The committee consists of a group of manufacturers and educators that have come together to define the manufacturing industry needs and evaluate the current manufacturing programs in place. They work together with the two other committees in the North Jersey TIP to develop entry level workers, increase qualified employees, and build capacity.

At the last meeting, the committee continued to brainstorm a list of basic skills needed for entry level manufacturing positions. It is interesting to collaborate with the educators and discuss what manufacturers are looking for in their entry level positions, while comparing it to want is being taught in the education programs. The committee also continued to develop a questionnaire for manufacturers to gain insight on the needs of the industry as well a consensus for the basic skills required in the industry.

The meeting on March 2nd began with the committee finalizing the entry level basic skills list and questionnaire. The committee is looking forward to hearing from the manufacturers as there cannot be any development without the input of the other manufacturers. The group is also looking forward to establishing their next project of developing a list of the basic skills for maintenance mechanics positions. The entry level basic skills list is geared towards the high school education level but the committee felt that a separate list should be developed for the maintenance mechanics as this is an industry need geared towards the secondary education programs.

We cannot express enough how important it is to hear from manufacturers. This committee needs to hear from those in the field to be able to bring accurate data to the other committees within Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP Meetingthe North Region TIP. We are hoping that the Pathway Development Committee will be able to take our list of entry level basic skills to help develop and inform the North Region counties of the high school manufacturing education opportunities. And also to bring the information gathered from the questionnaire to the Marketing Outreach Planning committee to assist in their marketing to parents and the state promoting the opportunities surrounding manufacturing education.

The Evaluating/ Industry Needs Committee is excited to bring what they have worked on to the North Region Targeting Industry Partnership Meeting on March 9th. Everyone is off to a great start but it is not too late to join the efforts. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to know more, please email Larry Taitel at admin@convertech.com. We need your help to make a difference in the manufacturing industry!

Are Children’s Toys the Introduction to the Manufacturing Experience?

children-2009819_1920Where does the manufacturing experience begin? You could follow the timeline back to high school machining class or even further back to helping your parents fix the kitchen sink or simply when you learned how to use a screw driver. The manufacturing experience can begin as early as a toddler playing with toys. Children’s toys are designed with a purpose. They have the ability to help with memory, build motor skills, and problem solving. The toys also allow children to create and build things. Whether they are building a stack of blocks or a wall for their play house, children are gaining the cognitive thinking skills they can develop as they get older.

Building blocks are among the most basic of children’s toys but have a large impact on a child’s learning environment. Fisher-Price’s Brilliant Basics™ Baby’s First Blocks are the perfect introduction to the manufacturing experience. This toy has different shaped blocks for children to stack and build. What makes this toy interesting is that it also comes with a storage bin with holes in the lid that match the blocks’ shapes. This allows for children to develop their problem solving skills and cognitive thinking by fitting the shapes through the holes on the lid. Children are beginning to make the hand-eye connection at 6 months; the same connection that is made between a screw and a flat-head screwdriver or a wrench and a bolt.

child-1864718_1920The manufacturing experience only expands from there. Take Lego, for example. Everyone has played with Lego blocks. They come in different shapes and sizes for many different age groups. Lego kits have step-by-step instructions that when followed correctly allow you to create something like a skyscraper or even a car. Children are essentially following blueprints to build things with their hands. This is a fundamental skill in manufacturing and engineering. And although it may be a child’s toy, some of the Lego blueprints are very elaborate. Lego has a 558 piece kit to build the StarScavenger™ from the Star Wars movie for children ages 8-14. Children are following the blueprints and in the end have a something they can hold in their hand that they created.

So how do we know we like to make things? The passion for creating things begins when we are children. Some children like to draw, some like to play house, and some like to build things. This is where the education process can begin. Children are enjoying what they are doing and learning for themselves before they are in a classroom setting by playing with the simplest of toys. The manufacturing experience is all around us at any age. Where it begins may be up for debate but it’s up to you to make the connection.

Following Up with the TIP Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee

workshop-1746275_1920After the North Region Targeted Industry Partnership’s (TIP) meeting on December 8th, each of the three committees went on their way to develop and execute a plan to achieve their respective goals. On January 25th, the Evaluation/Industry Needs Committee met to work towards their goal of defining the needs of manufacturers and found the common need is skilled employees. At the North Region TIP meeting, the committee brainstormed ways to reach other manufacturers and decided that a brief questionnaire would be the best way to define what manufacturers want and need from their employees.

Although the manufacturing industry is very wide spread, the committee worked together to define a simple list of questions based on the basic skills and necessities that are transferable across all industries. By establishing the manufacturer’s employee needs, a tangible list can be created to bring to schools and to the state to show the demand that is not being met and hopefully lead to more efficient manufacturing programs across the state.

It is important that manufacturers become involved and let their voices be heard. The more manufacturers involved, the more knowledge can be brought to the table in all areas of manufacturing. The Evaluation/Industry Needs Committee is also able to bring what they learn to the other two committees; Pathway Development Committee, which works with the education opportunities and the Marketing Outreach Planning Committee which generates the interest in manufacturing programs. With the knowledge gained from all three committees, the North Region TIP can make strides in the manufacturing industry.

We want to hear from you! The next Evaluation/Industry Needs Committee phone conference is on March 2nd at 3pm. For more information, please email Larry Taitel at admin@convertech.com. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the manufacturing industry!

Passaic County Technical Institute Leads The Way With Their Manufacturing Technology Program

PCTI

Passaic County Technical Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Machine Shop

In the state of New Jersey, once students are at the high school age, they have the opportunity to begin their career path by enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school. At the CTE high schools, along with the core high school curriculum, students learn a specific trade, like manufacturing technology. Unfortunately, manufacturing programs are not offered statewide. Manufacturing Technology programs should be implemented throughout New Jersey CTE high schools because there is a high demand for jobs in the field and many opportunities for students post-graduation.

Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey, for example, has an exemplary Manufacturing Technology program for students interested in a career in the manufacturing industry. Every year, out of numerous applicants, only 18 are accepted into the program. With the smaller class size and the program’s two certified educators, the students have a more individualized learning environment. And the students have access to technology and machines that are used in the field, giving them more exposure and training with the equipment they will be using once they graduate.

During their first year in the program, the students will learn the responsibilities of a job in the manufacturing field and get hands on experience with the tools. Their second year is where they begin to work with the manual milling and lathe machines. By giving them the experience with the manual machines first, the students gain a better understanding of how the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines operate and function when they work with them during their third year. In their final year, the students will continue to work with the CNC machines and also participate in Co-Op programs, where they work in the field while they are still in school. The four year Manufacturing Technology program gives students the knowledge to be able to make products and practical designs; an experience they can build upon.

During their time in the Manufacturing program, students have also had the opportunity to work on professional projects before they graduate. Through the Passaic County Technical Institute’s partnership with High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH), students were able to design and prototype projects using materials, equipment, and mentoring from NASA. As stated in a press release, “Manufacturing Technology students were tasked with the challenge of utilizing their skills to lathe a screw sleeve for a stowage locker for the International Space Station – one of fifty-one parts manufactured directly by students of the HUNCH program.” To read more about the opportunities this partnership brings to Passaic County Technical Students, please visit https://www.nasahunch.com/2016/03/pcti-students-partner-with-nasa-hunch-program/.

The Manufacturing program at Passaic County Technical Institute gives students a foundation to take wherever they would like to go. Once they complete the program, students can begin working right away since they now have the knowledge and training experience with the tools and machines. If they would like to continue their education, they have the opportunity to go to a community college and pursue an Associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Or they also have the option to continue their education further and can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Passaic County Technical Institute is just the beginning.

Passaic County Technical Institute offers an exclusive Manufacturing Technology Program that gives students the familiarity and experience with the different types of equipment in the manufacturing field. Having a Manufacturing Technology program like the one at Passaic County Technical Institute incorporated into CTE high schools statewide would be beneficial. A career in manufacturing technology is one filled with opportunities and is important work that all students should have the opportunity to pursue.

To learn more about Passaic County Technical Institute, visit their website https://www.pcti.tec.nj.us/