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.

The Law of Supply and Demand and Manufacturing Education

law of supply and demand

The law of supply and demand is simply a two-way street. Both sides need to be fulfilled for a desired outcome.

When looking at the literal meaning of the law of supply and demand, both sides directly relate to the price of the desired product or service; the goal is to increase revenue. By applying the law of supply and demand to manufacturing education, the goal is to increase opportunity. When the demand for manufacturing education increases, the opportunities for the students should also increase. But there is a high volume of students applying to manufacturing programs that are placed on waiting lists because there isn’t enough space in the programs; there is a demand but not enough supply. And in some areas, there are students who are unaware of the opportunities the manufacturing industry can bring so students are not expressing interest. With more manufacturing programs, students will have more opportunities to establish a career in the future. Employers will also have a larger pool of qualified applicants to help continue the growth of their business.

Hundreds of students apply for the manufacturing programs statewide but schools have to meet the State’s space requirements in the labs. This is a set limit on the number of students they can admit in the programs. Passaic County Technical Institute in Passaic, New Jersey, for example, can accept, at most, 18 students each year. Career and Technical Education schools have a high number of applicants for the programs each year. Students are being placed on waiting lists because there isn’t enough room for them all in the programs. This shows that there is a demand that is not being met due to the state restrictions. If there were more openings in manufacturing programs, the schools would be able to fill them.

In some areas, there is less demand for the manufacturing programs; students and parents are not asking for them. But they are not asking for them because they have not yet been introduced to the opportunities and benefits that the manufacturing industry can bring. If Apple made the iPhone but didn’t tell anyone about the features or the technological advances, no one would have bought it. Instead, Apple uses the law of supply and demand to their advantage. They continue to generate buzz about their products, building demand from the consumers to buy their products. The manufacturing industry has to generate the same momentum and gain exposure in all aspects of the industry in order to have the programs reinstated into schools statewide.

The law of supply and demand is dual sided. Both sides need to balance each other out to keep the status quo. According to Economics Basics: Supply and Demand by Reem Heakal, “the supply and demand theory will allocate resources in the most efficient way possible”. The introduction of manufacturing programs and a higher limit of admitted students in the existing programs can open more opportunities for students and help the manufacturing industry in New Jersey continue to grow and thrive.

For more information about manufacturing job opportunities, view our Careers page on Convertech.com.

Convertech Meets HoHokus Exec Board to Propose Expanded Machinist Program

Machinists at Convertech, Wharton, NJ.

Convertech president Larry Taitel met with Thomas Eastwick, the president of Eastwick College and the HoHoKus Schools, along with Eastwick’s executive board of the HoHoKus School of Trade, to discuss suggestions for an expansion of the school’s existing machining program. The meeting followed Convertech’s recent hiring of two HoHoKus graduates, who will join the company’s team of machinists.

“The applicants who’ve graduated from HoHoKus are far more impressive than our typical candidates,” said Taitel. “We’ve hired the school’s graduates before and have been very pleased with the results. Clearly, the school has a solid program in place.” Taitel has been leading a charge in New Jersey for better educational opportunities in the area of manufacturing. He proposed various additions to the school’s curriculum, which he believes will enhance the program and better prepare students for the many machining jobs that are available in the state and throughout the country.

“Mr. Taitel has some exciting ideas to improve our curriculum that we will be instituting as quickly as possible” said Eastwick. “Employers like Convertech are our most valuable source of knowledge.”

“Manufacturing jobs are plentiful and offer innumerable benefits including higher than average pay, job security, and job satisfaction,” said Taitel. “However, you can’t enter advanced manufacturing without first beginning in basic manufacturing. It all begins with the basics and lots of hands-on experience. Too few programs exist in our State for potential machinists, and the ones that are in place are in desperate need of additional hours.”

Taitel continues to reach out to NJ State elected officials, educators and industry groups to seek their support in bringing manufacturing curriculum back to New Jersey schools, which he explains is vital to The State of New Jersey, its manufacturers, and our students.

Since 1978, Convertech has designed, manufactured and delivered the industry’s highest-quality air shafts and chucks. All products are custom built at Convertech’s 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wharton, New Jersey.

Help wanted: Manufacturers struggle to find skilled employees

The following appeared in PlasticsToday:
by Clare Goldsberry (published: January 15, 2016

 

 

Manufacturing needs new blood in order to breathe new life back into this segment of the economy, but finding young people and creating the programs needed to train them will take a lot of work on the part of the manufacturing community. Larry Taitel, President of Convertech Inc., a manufacturer of air shafts and chucks in Wharton, NJ, and Dr. John W. Kennedy, CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturer’s Extension Partnership (NJMEP), are outspoken advocates of state-supported educational opportunities for students in machining.

New Jersey is home to 11,000 manufacturers, and yet, Taitel told PlasticsToday, finding the skilled machinists he needs to keep up with demand for his products is nearly impossible. Taitel currently employs 45 people, 35 of whom are production workers, in his 40,000-square-foot manufacturing area.

“Every year it gets worse, and now it’s intolerable,” Taitel lamented.

Taitel is in the same boat as nearly every manufacturing company. And it doesn’t appear that things will get any better over the next decade. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its biennial 10-year projection, the economy is returning to a more consistent growth path, but the growth is slower than the long-term trends that existed prior to the Great Recession. “The combination of a slowing of population growth, a continuation of longstanding trends of decreasing labor force participation and a lower unemployment rate will result in employment growth slightly stronger from 2014 to 2024 than it was from 2004 to 2014,” said the overview of the report.

Unfortunately the report projects that the service-providing sectors will account for the majority of projected job growth. That could mean that people like Taitel and moldmakers and plastics processors will see more young people flipping burgers and making lattes than applying for jobs as machinists, moldmakers, press operators and quality control technicians.

Taitel puts the blame on the manufacturing industry for not being proactive in working with high schools to keep shop classes active or partnering with vo-tech schools to ensure that the skills taught and the machinery used keep up with changing manufacturing technologies. As shop classes and vo-tech schools became obsolete, manufacturing dropped the ball and now it’s crying for skills that no longer exist.

“Thirty years ago, all high schools had machine shops and taught skills,” said Taitel, remembering back to the days when he took shop classes. “Then schools got on this kick that everyone needs to go to college. But that’s not where the jobs are today. The jobs are in making things; in manufacturing, the jobs have been there all along.”

Taitel doesn’t begrudge anyone getting a college degree. Eight of his employees have college degrees but they are in areas that are in demand at his plant, and they don’t have a degree just for the sake of having a degree. “We’ve lost an entire generation of machinists by taking shop out of the schools and eliminating vo-tech schools,” he said. “We need to get this back into the schools and tell the kids that manufacturing offers good, high-paying jobs.”

At Convertech, the work is low volume—one to five pieces for customized roll-fed machinery. That means that Taitel does a lot of work on manual machines, because automating at such low volumes isn’t efficient given the amount of programming and setup involved for each job. He operates 30 manual lathes and six automatic lathes, noting that using the manual lathe is still the best way to make one or two pieces. “People need to be able to do this,” he said. “Even to go to an automation operator position, you need to come from the manual side of things. You need to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work.”

Convertech pays well,In spite of that, “nobody wants to get their hands dirty,” Taitel said.

The BLS said in its report that the manufacturing sector is projected to experience the largest employment loss of any sector. “A projected loss of 814,000 jobs from 2014 to 2024 would reduce manufacturing employment to just under 11.4 million. While the loss is large, it is less than 40% of the loss that was experienced from 2004 to 2014, when more than 2.1 million manufacturing jobs were lost.” And the annual decline of 0.7% over the current projection period is less than the 1.6% annual decline that occurred from 2004 to 2014, the BLS report noted.

Taitel thinks that one solution is letting people know that manufacturing is not yet dead; that it’s not even on life support. “Everybody thinks manufacturing has left the country, but China took the low-paying, mass-production jobs,” he commented. “Everybody thinks that if you don’t go to college you can’t make money, and [that] manufacturing is bad work.”

But it’s going to take a lot of work on the part of manufacturers to attract young people to manufacturing. They will need to engage in collaborative efforts with high school guidance counselors to put young people on a trade track and help community colleges set up manufacturing technology programs and then support those programs to keep them relevant.

NJMEP’s John Kennedy agrees. “Manufacturers can’t sit back and wait for someone else to fix the problem. We have to fix it ourselves by imparting to our elected officials and school curriculum decision makers how important skills training is for our students, our manufacturers and our state. We’re looking for New Jersey to support apprenticeships and get us back on track for everyone’s sake,” he stated. “It’s up to us. Those of us who have spent our lives in this amazing industry must make sure that we pass the word along to all who will listen to help ensure our future.”

The Report of Manufacturing’s Death Was an Exaggeration

Larry Taitel, President of Convertech, Inc., and Dr. John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP, are remaining outspoken advocates of State-supported educational opportunities for students interested in machining in New Jersey, home to 11,000 manufacturers. The two recently addressed the latest findings of the ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which reported that an increasing number of manufacturers now struggle to find qualified applicants for open positions.

“The long-term threat to manufacturing is real and has even become part of our current presidential candidates’ conversations,” said Taitel. “I was not surprised to read that 51% of respondents to the ASQ survey said that lack of qualified applicants is their greatest hurdle when hiring for vacant positions. This response marked a drastic 44% increase over 2011, when ASQ last surveyed manufacturers about hiring challenges. According to the more recent data, 25% of respondents said their biggest challenge is the time it takes to hire a new employee. At Convertech, we have marked this trend for years. In 2008, we spent the equivalent of an average employee’s full year’s salary just seeking qualified machinists. Year over year, the lack of qualified applicants grows worse, and the cause is clear: Our schools ceased offering basic hands-on skills training. They closed their metal workshops and vo-tech programs, reducing the opportunities that young people have when considering their career paths.

“I continue to meet with fellow manufacturers in our State who echo these experiences,” said Taitel. “Manufacturers can neither sit back and allow this to happen nor wait for someone else to fix the problem. We have to fix it ourselves by imparting to our elected officials and school’s curriculum decision makers how important skills training is to our students, our manufacturers, and our State. We’re looking for New Jersey to support apprenticeships and get us back on track for everyone’s sake.”

“We’ve been hearing that ‘manufacturing is dead’ in the U.S. for over three decades,” said Kennedy. “The big problem is that statement was never even close to being true. Yes, it has changed, evolved, even become more efficient, but never has it been close to dead. In fact, the U.S. Manufacturing Industry remains rated as having the highest quality in the world, and taken by itself it would be the 9th largest economy in the world. That isn’t dead.

“What has this misinformation brought to this key sector?” Kennedy asked. “I’d say a lack of respect, and an even larger shortage of qualified individuals following this career path. There are no more Industrial Arts (Shop) Programs in our ‘regular’ schools, and there are additional gaps in our engineering and high-tech programs. Now, as industries are poised for another growth spurt, companies cannot find qualified people.

“The average pay is more than other industries,” Kennedy continued. “Job security is positive. The chance for growth is solid. What is the answer? No single answer will solve a situation driven by 30+ years of a ‘premature death knell’. What we need is a multi-faceted plan that puts in place a structure that works on all levels, and that includes expanding current efforts in technical training and apprenticeships to assist in filling today’s needs. It also needs to include the understanding that all education is great, and much of it is vocational in nature. It all leads to a better, more fulfilling life.

“So it’s up to us,” Kennedy continued. “Those of us who have spent our lives in this amazing industry must make sure that we pass the word along to all who will listen to help ensure our future. That includes leaving our comfort zone and letting those that represent us know that we are here to stay as an active, productive part of our communities.”

Taitel said he plans to begin meeting with New Jersey elected officials in early 2016 to address the issue. “The more voices addressing this problem, the sooner we can begin to see changes,” he said.

Respondents to the ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey represent a multitude of industries. The ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook survey was conducted online in November as part of World Quality Mont h and more than 900 manufacturing professionals responded to the survey.

About Convertech: Since 1978, Convertech has designed, manufactured and delivered the industry’s highest-quality air shafts and chucks. All products are custom built at Convertech’s 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wharton, New Jersey where they are then quality tested before being delivered.

About NJMEP: The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) is a unique organization whose mission is to help New Jersey Manufacturers (Small & Mid-Sized) compete in a global economy. For nearly two decades, the not-for profit company has been instrumental in helping companies become more efficient and profitable. NJMEP is one of 59 centers throughout the US that are part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The U.S. Congress created the MEP program, which is a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a U.S. Department of Commerce agency, in 1988 to help U.S. manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.

Contact: Larry Taitel, President, ph. 973-328-1850 email: larry@convertech.com

Convertech President and NJMEP CEO Address Manufacturing Gloom With a Call to Action

Larry Taitel, President of Convertech, Inc., and Dr. John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP, are remaining outspoken advocates of State-supported educational opportunities for students interested in machining in New Jersey, home to 11,000 manufacturers. The two recently addressed the latest findings of the ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which reported that an increasing number of manufacturers now struggle to find qualified applicants for open positions.

Made-in-USA
“The long-term threat to manufacturing is real and has even become part of our current presidential candidates’ conversations,” said Taitel. “I was not surprised to read that 51% of respondents to the ASQ survey said that lack of qualified applicants is their greatest hurdle when hiring for vacant positions. This response marked a drastic 44% increase over 2011, when ASQ last surveyed manufacturers about hiring challenges. According to the more recent data, 25% of respondents said their biggest challenge is the time it takes to hire a new employee. At Convertech, we have marked this trend for years. In 2008, we spent the equivalent of an average employee’s full year’s salary just seeking qualified machinists. Year over year, the lack of qualified applicants grows worse, and the cause is clear: Our schools ceased offering basic hands-on skills training. They closed their metal workshops and vo-tech programs, reducing the opportunities that young people have when considering their career paths.

“I continue to meet with fellow manufacturers in our State who echo these experiences,” said Taitel. “Manufacturers can neither sit back and allow this to happen nor wait for someone else to fix the problem. We have to fix it ourselves by imparting to our elected officials and school’s curriculum decision makers how important skills training is to our students, our manufacturers, and our State. We’re looking for New Jersey to support apprenticeships and get us back on track for everyone’s sake.”

“We’ve been hearing that ‘manufacturing is dead’ in the U.S. for over three decades,” said Kennedy. “The big problem is that statement was never even close to being true. Yes, it has changed, evolved, even become more efficient, but never has it been close to dead. In fact, the U.S. Manufacturing Industry remains rated as having the highest quality in the world, and taken by itself it would be the 9th largest economy in the world. That isn’t dead.

“What has this misinformation brought to this key sector?” Kennedy asked. “I’d say a lack of respect, and an even larger shortage of qualified individuals following this career path. There are no more Industrial Arts (Shop) Programs in our ‘regular’ schools, and there are additional gaps in our engineering and high-tech programs. Now, as industries are poised for another growth spurt, companies cannot find qualified people.

“The average pay is more than other industries,” Kennedy continued. “Job security is positive. The chance for growth is solid. What is the answer? No single answer will solve a situation driven by 30+ years of a ‘premature death knell’. What we need is a multi-faceted plan that puts in place a structure that works on all levels, and that includes expanding current efforts in technical training and apprenticeships to assist in filling today’s needs. It also needs to include the understanding that all education is great, and much of it is vocational in nature. It all leads to a better, more fulfilling life.

“So it’s up to us,” Kennedy continued. “Those of us who have spent our lives in this amazing industry must make sure that we pass the word along to all who will listen to help ensure our future. That includes leaving our comfort zone and letting those that represent us know that we are here to stay as an active, productive part of our communities.”

Taitel said he plans to begin meeting with New Jersey elected officials in early 2016 to address the issue. “The more voices addressing this problem, the sooner we can begin to see changes,” he said.

Respondents to the ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey represent a multitude of industries. The ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook survey was conducted online in November as part of World Quality Mont h and more than 900 manufacturing professionals responded to the survey.

About Convertech: Since 1978, Convertech has designed, manufactured and delivered the industry’s highest-quality air shafts and chucks. All products are custom built at Convertech’s 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wharton, New Jersey where they are then quality tested before being delivered.

About NJMEP: The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) is a unique organization whose mission is to help New Jersey Manufacturers (Small & Mid-Sized) compete in a global economy. For nearly two decades, the not-for profit company has been instrumental in helping companies become more efficient and profitable. NJMEP is one of 59 centers throughout the US that are part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The U.S. Congress created the MEP program, which is a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a U.S. Department of Commerce agency, in 1988 to help U.S. manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.

Contact: Larry Taitel, President, ph. 973-328-1850 email: Larry@convertech.com

A new world record for industrial robot production

Via The Converting Guide, Europe announced it has a worldwide installed base of over 400,000 industrial robots, a new world record for the industry.

robots
The recent drivers behind reaching this major milestone have been the popularity of the FANUC R-2000i Series, LR Mate series, and the CR-35iA, collaborative green robot. The FANUC R-2000i and LR Mate series are the company’s highest selling robots, while the collaborative robot has attracted new attention of customers.

Collaborative robots brought a variety of benefits to the manufacturing plant floor including improved employee welfare and increased cost savings.

At the same time, demand from manufacturers in China to transform their factories with new and emerging technologies has fueled production for industrial robots, and has played a major role in the doubling of FANUC production over the last seven years.

Head of Marketing and Sales Coordination of FANUC Europe, Konrad Grohs said: “Toda’s milestone underlines our position as the world’s leading global provider of factory automation and industrial robotics. We’re incredibly proud to have broken the world record and we believe this is testament to FANUC’s longstanding commitment to innovation, and continually pushing the boundaries of automation to increase productivity.

“Over the coming years, we will build on our rapid growth to help even more manufacturers across the world take advantage of the benefits that robotics and automation bring to their businesses. We believe that benefits of factory automation and robotisation will be better recognized also in European plants and will further increase the competitiveness of European industry.”

Original Source: Materials Handling & Logistics

Converting Pioneer Joins NJ Dept. of Labor Efforts to Advance Manufacturing Credentials

Machinists at Convertech in Wharton, NJ.

The mounting need for workers capable of stepping into manufacturing jobs in New Jersey has prompted the State’s Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD) and NJ’s Talent Networks to partner in support of one of LWD’s highest priority projects: creation of a statewide Demand Credential List (DCL). Toward that end, Convertech Inc., the leading manufacturer of wide- and narrow-web shafts, was recently invited to participate in a Credentials Roundtable regarding employee qualifications for advanced manufacturing.

“There’s a clear need for manual experience before individuals can begin moving on to automated machinery,” explained Convertech president Larry Taitel. “Despite the fact that we’ve entered the Computer Age, where CAD and programming have hastened and refined machining processes, manufacturing requires workers to walk before they can run. We need to develop basic skills training in the area of machinists, tool and die, metal lathe, and so forth. These are the fundamentals that manufacturers require. Further, we need to develop training of core competencies and credentials.”

Taitel, whose company serves the printing, labeling and packaging industries, is a strong advocate of manufacturing apprenticeship programs, which he believes should start as early as 10th grade and conclude at the State College or County College level. Such a program, he says, would allow employers to offer genuine hands-on training to potential employees. “Imagine what a serious win-win this could be for everyone involved as we begin to build workers for manufacturing jobs,” he explains.

“I don’t believe college is appropriate for everyone,” says Taitel. “But to satisfy the ingrained notions many hold that college is indeed mandatory in this day and age, adding real-world skills to early academic training might prove eye-opening to both parents and students alike. Indeed, it may signal to many young people that a potential career in manufacturing—where jobs are currently plentiful—may hold highly desirable prospects.”

Convertech is the leading manufacturer of shafts and core holders for the converting industry. Located in Wharton, NJ, the company has been manufacturing high-quality products for the printing, labeling, and packaging industries since 1978 and was recently the recipient of a Commendation from the U.S. House of Representatives for its manufacturing innovations and years of service.

Manufacturing Jobs: Ours to Lose

Machinists at Convertech
As an owner of a small manufacturer for over 30 years, I can attest to the fact that U.S. school systems no longer produce work-ready adults who are equipped for careers as machinists. While today’s job’s report seems optimistic—with U.S. employers adding 271,000 jobs in October and manufacturing jobs remaining flat—the reality is that manufacturing is flat because nobody wants the jobs that are available. If they did, the manufacturing sector of job growth would explode.
Forty years ago, schools required all students, regardless of college or vocational track, to get hands-on experience in basic machinery as part of their metal and woodshop requirements. Whether it meant making a bird house or a metal box, all students had to actually makethings. For some reason, schools later decided that it was better to prep students for service jobs where they would sell what others made. And now we reap the results.
In my opinion, the reversal of this problem must start with the school systems. From a young age, students need to see manufacturing is a viable and honorable career path; one that doesn’t require a college degree (which not everyone desires). Manufacturing pays better than average wages, offers good working hours that allow people to spend more time with their families, and it suits the majority of people, if they would only be aware of it as a career option.
Historically, only the most studious went to college. Today, students are pushed to get degrees that many (perhaps most) won’t use. In my shop, less than 20% of the employees have college degrees—the other 80+% are hard-working people who live productive lives. A college degree would have wasted their money, years of their lives, and prepared them, in many cases, for jobs that don’t exist or are not needed.
I’ve been trying to get my local, county and state schools to listen to the needs of manufacturers for decades. We’ve seen a shift in their attitudes over the last five years and to an even greater extent in the last few months. NJ State and local schools have finally realized (a generation late, alas) that our students need to recognize manufacturing as a career path. 
I urge everyone to join the conversation: Contact local, county, and state school officials to advocate for our needs.  The more of us who raise our voices to those who can make this happen, the more they will listen, and the sooner the problem will be addressed.
It will be many years before U.S. school are producing qualified machinists again, but the process has to begin and it starts with manufacturers, large and small, pushing our school officials to produce a generation with the skills and attitude needed to grow companies.
A 30 year drought of young machinists is far too long. It’s up to manufacturers to push “the system” to change.
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Larry Taitel is President of Convertech Inc.