Manufacturing Day is an initiative of The Manufacturing Institute. On this day, manufacturers welcome students and their teachers to their facilities so they can see what modern manufacturing jobs entail.  It’s a day meant to clear up misconceptions people have about the manufacturing industry.  It’s not only a learning opportunity for students, it’s a recruiting tool for employers.

Manufacturing Day, which is always held on the first Friday in October, falls on Oct. 1 this year, but many manufacturers choose to celebrate their industry the whole month. Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group celebrates the entire month and welcomes future prospective employees to become acquainted with our business.

October 1 was even more special this year for Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group.  On that day, President Ben Johnston announced PTTG was officially a 100-percent employee owned. A family-owned company since 1919, in the past few years, the Johnston family has looked at ways to grow the company even more and decided what better way to do that than ensure employees had “skin in the game.”  Initially, 30 percent of the company shares were invested into a trust to be redistributed to eligible employees, while the Johnston family held the remaining share. The remaining 70 percent of the shares have been invested into a trust to be distributed to employees.

ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) is another way for employees to save for retirement – separate from the money the employees and PTTG put in their 401k accounts.  As an ESOP company, that means employees own a share of the company, and it’s in their best interest if they and all their employees make sure PTTG is as profitable and efficient as it can be.

Pittsburg Tank provides a solid foundation with plenty of training to help new employees ease into their new roles.  All employees must complete safety training when they are hired and will have additional safety training throughout their employment.  New shop employees are also often paired with experienced employees for a period so that they can learn how to operate the machinery and how to do the demands of the job.  Pittsburg also has room for growth.  We have employees who started as high school students with apprenticeships who have become floor superintendents.

In years past, Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group has hosted students from Henderson, Union, and Webster County Schools.  While students won’t physically be here on Manufacturing Day due to health and safety concerns tied to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Pittsburg will be providing virtual tours.

Based in Henderson, Kentucky, PTTG is a roughly six-hour drive from Chicago and Atlanta. Being located so close to the majority of the U.S. population is an asset for us.  We can build and ship parts quickly and efficiently.  It also means less overall driving time for our maintenance and inspection crews.

There are 251,910 manufacturing employees in Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Association for Manufacturers.  There are 4,500 manufacturing facilities, and there were more than $31.16 million in Kentucky-made goods exported last year.

Manufacturers in Kentucky contribute about 18.56 % of the commonwealth’s output and employ about 13 percent of the workforce, according to Nam.org.

Manufacturing accounts for 21.3 percent of Henderson, Kentucky’s workforce.  More than 2,500 people of Henderson’s 28,625 citizens are employed by manufacturers, according to Data USA.  Compared with other U.S. cities, Henderson has an unusually high amount of manufacturing industries.

Neighboring Evansville was considered a major manufacturing hub in the 20th Century and remains one, though a surge of education and health services jobs have moved manufacturing out of the top career spot.  The Evansville metropolitan area – which includes Henderson- is accessible via the Ohio River and two interstates.  Evansville is also home to freight rail lines and a regional airport.

Though Kentucky’s major industrial sectors experienced employment losses during the first months of the pandemic and still haven’t fully recovered, construction was the one sector that grew, according to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group hit some snags in March 2020 like most companies but rebounded to have a great year.  The current fiscal year has also been strong and seen high demands for our full-tank maintenance services and products.

The labor force is projected to grow, albeit slowly through 2024, according to a December 2015 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Declining fertility rates and decreased international migration are attributing to the slower growth.  The average annual growth for 16-24-year-olds is expected to be 11.3 % in 2024, down from 13.7% in 2004.

According to plantservices.com, manufacturing jobs have grown at double-digit rates since 2017 and are nearing the 2001 peak.  There’s a skills shortage because Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are retiring at a faster rate than Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), and Generation Z (born between 1997 and approximately 2012) can replace them.  The website states that 4.6 million new manufacturing workers will be needed in the next seven years, but only about 2.2 million people are expected to be hired at the current hiring rate.

There’s been an ongoing workforce shortage as older, experienced employees have retired, but fewer younger employees have replaced them in the manufacturing field.  That’s why recruiting new employees – via Manufacturing Month or other methods – is so vital.

People’s perception is that manufacturing has been in a long-term decline and there are none or few jobs to be had, but that’s not the case.  Manufacturing has evolved over the years. The realities of the jobs differ from people’s perceptions.  Modern manufacturing jobs are much more technology and skill-based than the jobs in the past.

U.S. manufacturers account for 11.39 percent – $2.3 billion in 2018 – of the country’s economy, according to NAM.org.  Manufacturing companies also employ 8.51 percent of the U.S workforce.  The National Association of Manufacturers reported that there were 522,000 manufacturing jobs open in 2019.  Nearly half of those jobs remain open.