GREENVILLE — According to Darke County Economic Development Director Mike Bowers, today’s factories are very different from those in which peoples’ parents and grandparents have worked.
“Today, great opportunities exist for all kinds of skills,” Bowers said. “Not only on the manufacturing floor, but for computer programmers, machinists, engineers, and a vast array of available jobs. The technology involved in manufacturing has become a very advanced piece.”
To showcase some of those jobs, the Darke County Economic Development Office hosted its fourth annual participation in National Manufacturing Day, October 6. Sophomores from eight school districts visited the local manufacturers. Some of those included Whirpool Corporation, Ramco Electric Motors and JAFE Decorating, Inc. all of Greenville.
“We put this out there, because not everyone wants to attend a four-year college,” Bowers said. “You can get a lot done through a two-year college, and some of these companies help pay for your college. We have great examples of that in our community-of people coming up through the ranks to be plant managers. Career paths exists through our local manufacturers, and the message is getting out there through the school counselors and teachers. We just want to reiterate that with the students, that there are great opportunities in Darke County.”
JAFE Decorating, Inc., has been in business since 1978, providing specialty color/paint coatings for various industries including: automotive aftermarket lighting, commercial lighting, consumer lighting, restaurant table lighting, pharmaceutical, floral wholesale, ad specialty, outdoor recreation, chrome mirrors serving industrial and specialty automotive, solar filters, and personalized gifts for all occasions. JAFE President Randy O’Dell said the company will do close to 10 million pieces in the candle market this year. The floral and lighting businesses are also high-volume for the company.
According to JAFE Plant Manager Ed Orazen, every one of the company’s administrators, a management team of seven, came from the ground level. Many opportunities exist in the company, he said to some Greenville High School students.
“We came in and we worked in the factory,” Orazen said. “We either found something we liked, or someone told us we are really good at something, and we were promoted.”
He went onto explain that all of the employees are essential to the business.
“There is a whole team of support that creates all of this to happen,” Orazen said.
Whirlpool Corp. is the number one major appliance manufacturer in the world, with approximately $21 billion in annual sales, 93,000 employees and 70 manufacturing and technology research centers in 2016, according to its website. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, Jenn-Air, Indesit, and other major brand names in nearly every country throughout the world. Whirlpool Plant Leader Ken Hossler explained to some Mississinawa Valley High School students, that he stayed with the company 30 years due to the steady reliable and good income that Whirpool provides.
“In addition, it is the values the company has, the culture it provides and the challenges Whirpool offers,” he said. “Along with the stability of the employment, there are many growth opportunities. When I first started I was an operator on the floor, then had a tremendous amount of opportunities and continued to progress.”
Hossler explained to the students, the three traits to get hired.
“You have to come to work everyday with a good work ethic, do quality work, and have the ability to collaborate and provide good team work,” he said. “If you do those three things very well, no matter what profession you choose, you will be successful. On top of that, there are skills, such as: math, computer skills, engineering and design. All of those things can be used in manufacturing and are things you will learn, but you have to have the foundational things to be successful.”
Also in attendance at Whirlpool, was Darke County Commissioner Mike Stegall. He said Manufacturing Day is important in Darke County because it gives the students a chance to see the workings of modern manufacturing.
“We are probably one of the few counties in the state that has Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “We also have a great agricultural base – we are unique. Our young talent can stay here, go to work, make a good living and raise their families here, which is what we want. This is a great opportunity for them to see the advantages we have in this county.”
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