Page 11 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- December 2017
P. 11

Manufacturing Day Tours Show Local Students Technical, Skilled Career Paths
Ironwood, MI - Manufacturers play an important role in the Upper Penin- sula economy and provide area stu- dents with technical, skilled path careers. As part of Manufacturing Day, Northern Initiatives hosted 17 Florence High School students on tours of two area leading manufactur- ers their organization helped to grow - Jacquart Fabric Products and Iron- wood Plastics.
The tours provided the students an opportunity to learn what it's like to work in the manufacturing sector. Ironwood Plastics tour included a look at a high tech, robot-operated injection molding process along with an array of engineering, mold mak- ing, and assembly processes. In oper- ation since 1981, Ironwood Plastics produces primarily for the automo- tive and defense industries.
In 1958- Jacquart Fabric Products was founded in Ironwood, MI- years later CEO Bob Jacquart faced a rather nice problem. His company had grown significantly, from a
custom cut and sew shop
with a single employee, to a multi-brand business with
dozens of skilled profession-
als. No small feat for a US-
based cut and sew operation.
Students toured produc-
tion, embroidery and large
format printing stations. Watching the making of awnings for campers, vinyl tarps for swing sets (like the one at the White House), pet beds, and most notably, the Stormy Kromer line of hats and clothing.
Northern Initiatives played a sig- nificant role in the success of both
companies. Ironwood Plastics received coaching assistance and problem-solving training in support of process improvement. Jacquart
Fabrics first came to Northern Initia- tives for a loan in 1997 and that has launched a twenty-year relationship where capital needs and consultations have helped the company create 114 full-time jobs and become a leading producer in the global textile indus- try.
Each year on the first Friday of the month of October, Manufacturing Day is a celebration of manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation
to explore and consider a career in modern manufac- turing. Events happening throughout the nation are intended to introduce these businesses. "We love our work and love showing oth- ers," commented Bob Jacquart, owner of Jacquart Fabrics. "If this helps shape a young person's life then it's a
Kay McClain is a Florence High
School teacher and commented on several added benefits to the tours. "In addition to touring the facilities, stu- dents became more aware of how companies have to compete globally,
how careers are changing due to the growth of robotics in the workforce, and that many types of careers are needed within a manufacturing busi- ness."
The day's events were coordinated by Northern Initiatives in partnership with Michigan Manufacturing Tech- nology Center and Dickinson and Gogebic County's Michigan Works!. Northern Initiatives and MMTC have long partnered to assist UP man- ufacturing businesses start and grow. Twenty-five percent of NI's loans are with manufacturers and it offers con- sultations to 30 UP manufacturers each year.
For more information on Manu- facturing Day or how Northern Ini- tiatives helps manufacturers in U.P. Michigan, visit www.northerninitia-
Bob Jacquart (far left) CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products showing a picture of NMU’s ice rink where Jacquart Fabric Products produced the rink padding to students on a Manufac- turing Day tour.
Dave Zielinski (far left) Business Development Manager at Ironwood Plastics leading a student tour on Manufacturing Day.
Tours provided the students an opportunity to learn what it's like
to work in the manufacturing sector.

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