By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – For the first National Manufacturing Day on Friday, free tours of manufacturers nationwide were given.
Among them was Hawkeye Industries in Tupelo, a precision sheet-metal fabricator.
“We’re also an OEM – original equipment manufacturer – supplier,” said company President and CEO Bryan Hawkins.
Friday was a day to not only show the public what each particular manufacturer does, but also show what opportunities are available to job-seekers.
“We’ve got 33 workers here, and the jobs include finance, inventory, quality control, welding, stamping … there are many types of things going on with manufacturing. It’s not the old smokestacks and assembly lines of the past. Manufacturing is a good place to go into and determine what you can do.”
U.S. manufacturing has taken its lumps through the years, as low-cost labor in China and other parts of Asia have siphoned jobs. But Hawkins said he’s seeing a resurgence of “Made in America.”
And that means more skilled workers are needed.
“If you’re going to compete, you’ve got to have technology, and if you’re going to have technology, you have to have the people to use it,” he said. “Then it becomes a matter of supply and demand, and there’s not a lot of skilled workers out there.”
Hawkins has been a big advocate of workforce training and development, as well as supporting more academic opportunities to train students in advance manufacturing.
He’s also the incoming chairman of the Mississippi Manufacturing Association.
“If you’re not plugged in, you can’t make a difference,” he said. “And if you’re not involved, you can’t complain.”