Over 90 students and staff from three area high schools attended Mack’s inaugural ‘Made in Vermont’ days this fall at the headquarters plant. Later this month, many will return for follow-up workshops in specific areas of interest, including engineering, molding, manufacturing, machining, sheet metal and office/admin.
Students toured the f’real frozen beverage blender line, where virtually all of Mack’s services come together to build the very complex product, including plastics, sheet metal, machining and total product manufacturing, as well as the procurement of over 400 unique parts from 63 suppliers and distribution of the final product. In addition to standing up to the rigors of the blend-it-yourself retail scene, the ‘smart’ appliance automatically self-cleans and steam sanitizes and alerts f’real if there is ever a blender malfunction in the field.
After seeing the way it’s done in the real world of modern manufacturing, the students were put to the test of building a simulated product themselves. Directed by the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC), the exercise pitted teams in a race against time to see who could manufacture the most product, which had to pass a quality audit before it could be counted! The common response after the dust settled? “It’s a lot harder than it looks!”
A discussion regarding the skills needed in modern manufacturing and relative career paths at Mack wrapped up the day, followed by pizza, f’real shakes and Mack giveaways.
“Like the state, we value our youth and want them to have the choice to stay here,” says Jeff Somple, president of Mack’s Northern Operations. “They represent the future, not only for Mack, but for all businesses in the state.
“Recent studies have confirmed what we’ve already been seeing – manufacturing is returning from China to the U.S.,” adds Somple. “China is no longer the low-cost wage center it once was, which means employment in U.S. manufacturing will be on the rise. We must have an educated and well-prepared employee base from which to hire – our ‘Made in Vermont’ days represent just one of the ways we’re trying to assist with that effort.”
Contact: Julie Horst, Director of Communications