October 6th of every year is Manufacturing Day in the United States and Puerto Rico. The purpose of this day is to educate the public about manufacturing as well as celebrating manufacturing as a whole.
For Manufacturing Day, we sat down with Andrew Mallinson, CEO of Multicraft International, to learn more about his start in manufacturing, the challenges this industry faces as well as the involvement of Multicraft in the community.
Q: How did you start in manufacturing?
A: “My introduction with manufacturing started with Magna International in Canada which is a very large automotive parts company. I was doing consulting work for them in Toronto. They had operations in Toronto and the U.S. and I would visit the plants for a week or so at a time and would report back to the Magna Board on the state of affairs. That was my original introduction into manufacturing.”
Q: What are some of the accomplishments that you are most proud of at Multicraft International?
A: “Multicraft is a small tier-one manufacturer in a tough, competitive environment in the automotive sector. We grew from three manufacturing plants in Mississippi to eight in ten years, of profitable growth. Going from 500 people to 2,000 was a great accomplishment for the management team at Multicraft. It was great to do that in Mississippi where everyone helped us grow. Those were good, solid operations with good customers and a great workforce and that was a great credit to everyone involved.”
Q: Manufacturing Day has five goals (taken from mfgday.com):
- Empower Manufacturers.
- Change Public Perceptions of Manufacturers.
- Introduce People to Manufacturing Careers.
- Draw Attention to the Roles Manufacturers Play in Their Communities.
- Underscore the Economic and Social Significance of Manufacturing.
What do you think are some of the misconceptions in manufacturing?
A: “I agree. Manufacturing, historically, has been the engine of innovation in industry for hundreds of years and single-handedly caused the economic well being of countries all over the world, especially in the United States. Manufacturing might have a smoke stack association or a Ford production line of the 1920s- tough, forbidding environment- but in the 21st century, manufacturing is more about sophisticated product design, ergonomically designed processes, lots of robotics, artificial intelligence, and making products more reliable and more economically feasible. So, whenever people visit Multicraft manufacturing facilities they are always really surprised to find what’s behind the walls in terms of the nature of the workforce, the environment they work in, the specific jobs people have, and the technical competencies that are necessary to get the job done.
In manufacturing, the country has had some bumps in the road with recent recessions but nonetheless is an incredible contributor to the Gross Domestic Product and continues to be a leading employer. While a lot of people work in this environment, there are people outside of it that don’t exactly know what goes on. Therefore, Manufacturing Day is designed to let people peek behind the curtain and find out what real manufacturing looks like. It’s not all smoke and belching equipment. It’s much more sophisticated than that.”
Q: Why do you think it is so challenging to educate the public about manufacturing, even to this day?
A: “People have preconceptions; they’ve seen a movie or they have talked to a grandparent who was involved in old line manufacturing or mining- mining itself is a lot cleaner than it used to be- and so these images and preconceptions from media and literature aren’t offset by the reality of actually being involved. Many people don’t see any manufacturing operations. Manufacturing provides tremendous value, good employment, and good products for the population. Moving misconceptions about our image is well known to us in Mississippi and manufacturing has similar challenges. Everyone involved should be happy to pass on the good aspects of manufacturing so people can have a better understanding.
Q: Another Manufacturing Day goal is to draw attention to the roles manufacturers play in their communities. Could you give an example of the role Multicraft has played in the community here?
A: “We’re involved in supporting, as a sponsor and contributor, to numerous activities, but I think our greatest contribution is in allowing our people to become involved in community activities. And for ourselves, we are very pleased to be a sponsor and originator of Innovation Academy at Pelahatchie High School. Right now, students in 11th grade are being taught in a technical environment about job possibilities, technical training, going on to college and eventually working in the manufacturing world. Innovation Academy has been a great start to a further engagement with the community in manufacturing education.”
Q: Do you have any updates on the program and what do you hope to see from Innovation Academy?
A: “We had a tour this week by a group of students and they are very interested in the processes, equipment, and the methods used in manufacturing the products we use today. That class will move on to 12th grade next year, and in that year almost half of the school week will be spent interning at Multicraft’s facilities, working side by side with experienced professionals in the manufacturing sector. This is allowing them to further their education and attain a degree of certification for their experience at Multicraft, which will count as community college credits. This will enable them to graduate with higher job opportunity possibilities than had they not gone through our program. That is very exciting to us and hopefully will lead to a bunch of Multicraft employees! But if not, we are still thrilled with the process.”
Q: Where do you see manufacturing as a whole going towards in the future, and more specifically, Multicraft International?
A: “Manufacturing is a global concern, activities all around the world. I was in India for two weeks earlier this month, and manufacturing is growing leaps and bounds. There are tremendous capabilities for the engineering and design point of view in India including investments. This is the same in China- there is a rise in manufacturing there. In America, manufacturing is also on the rise because the production of products in the technology sector is rapidly increasing along with every other sector. As the economy grows, there is more demand, so it is a steadily growing environment.
For Multicraft, we are aligned with the automotive industry, which is in fairly good shape at the moment. It’s a cyclical industry, but at the moment volumes are high. 70 million cars are manufactured in America each year so we are expanding on our automotive footprint to commercial, consumer, and other products which should lead to us providing more manufacturing content in our existing plants, and further development in the future. We are in a good shape for the diversification of the manufacturing sector.”
More information about Manufacturing Day can be found at MFGDAY.com.
For more information on Multicraft International, visit www.multicraft.com.