Jerry Eighmy sees the world in a different light. Where others may see a potential problem, he sees an opportunity. While some in the precision machined products industry believe the labor pool for talented young adults is thin, Mr. Eighmy is working to increase the size of the pool.
Mr. Eighmy is known throughout the industry for his company’s innovation in training his workforce and providing continuing education. Two years ago, he decided to reach potential recruits before they hit the job market, and he’s intent on doing that again this year.
As the Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) came up on the calendar in 2001, Mr. Eighmy, president and chief executive officer of Fairview, Pennsylvania-based American Turned Products, thought it made a lot of sense to sponsor a bus to take local technical and high school students to Columbus, Ohio, so they could see firsthand that the precision machining industry was more than just lathes, drill bits and bores.
“We thought it was a good idea to expose people in high school to the opportunities that are available in the precision-machined products industry,” Mr. Eighmy says of the show, co-sponsored by the Precision Machined Products Association, Production Machining and Modern Machine Shop magazines. He noted that some of the students were training to be machinists, and others were intending to attend a 4-year college in pursuit of engineering degrees. Bringing them to the show allowed them to see the technology and the training it takes to operate and be employed within our industry.
An Eye-Opening Experience For Students
“Talk about an eye-opening experience. I don’t think they had an idea of the magnitude of the industry,” says Mr. Eighmy.
Dale Will, an instructor at Erie County Technical School, who chaperoned six of his students in 2001, agrees. “They got to see the latest and greatest in technology, and they saw things that we don’t have here at the school.”
Mr. Eighmy is planning to do it all over again. Invitations have already gone out to selected schools in northwestern Pennsylvania for this year’s show, scheduled May 6 – 8 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio)Convention Center.
Mr. Will says he has already spoken to American Turned Products management about the May trip. “They wanted to know if we wanted to send eight or ten students. I told them I have 17 seniors, and that they’d all like to go,” Mr. Will says.
Mr. Eighmy says he decided the PMTS was the show to expose students to the industry for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because it was co-sponsored by PMPA, Mr. Eighmy, a past president of the organization, thought it would make a good vehicle to educate the students on the industry and the technology it employs.
Our Industry Is A Great Career Choice
Not only does Mr. Eighmy see the opportunity, but he also seizes it. He realized the 240-mile trip from Erie to Columbus needed to be filled with information—information to help convince students the precision machined products industry would be a great career choice. Thus, the day out of school was not just a road trip for the students. On the bus ride to Columbus, “we played tapes from machine tool builders about their equipment and capabilities,” Mr. Eighmy says.
And students didn’t walk away without providing some feedback. Each was asked to complete an evaluation of the trip so that future excursions could be improved. Many of the comments mirrored what one student wrote when responding to the question of how the show was useful: “Now I know what I will be dealing with when I get out of school.”
Mr. Eighmy says his goal of demonstrating to the students they have a choice in a technologically advanced career is being met.
“The old machine shops are still out there, but they’re not as prevalent as the modern machining that is occurring,” Mr. Eighmy says. “This kind of whets their appetite to pursue their interest in the precision machined products industry.”