14.05.2021

Manufacturing Challenges - Finding Talent

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Right now we (McAirlaid’s) are struggling to find talent. Sales are strong, we are expanding yet the talent is missing. To find out why, I started doing some research. What shocked me are the stigmas people have about working in manufacturing. Honestly, I shouldn’t be because I had plenty of my own.

 Growing up in town of 1,678 people the biggest employers were farmers, a cotton gin or the local factory. I promised myself I would never work in a factory, yet here I am. It was the evolution of seeing a manufacturing facility as dirty, dated and manual to modern, high-tech and progressive that changed my opinion.

 
Most facilities leverage the latest in technology to help ensure consistent quality and meet shorter lead-times. One myth is that more technology equals less jobs. In the case of McAirlaid’s, this is untrue. As we expand and modernize, we are able to provide more solutions to our customers thus creating more sales and need for product. The challenges we all face is the lack of skilled talent to support expansion.

 
My research also uncovered two other misconceptions about working for a manufacturer, a non-living wage and the work environment.

 
Non-Living Wage
Manufacturers pay based on skill, so entry-level positions start around $12 an hour going up to $20 an hour. That’s $25,000 - $37,000 annually. At McAirlaid’s, like most manufacturers, we also provide a full benefits package which includes paid time off (PTO), 401K with employer match, dental insurance, vision insurance and employer paid medical insurance.

To me these seem like standard benefits but I found many other industries (retail, restaurant, hospitality) do not provide insurance or if they do, the rates are so high it is cost prohibitive to take out. In talking with a friend recently, who works full time for a retail service company, I found out she does not get PTO or paid holidays. I just can’t imagine. For a manufacturer, all these benefits (skill based pay, insurance, PTO) combined provide our employees with a living wage and a comfortable work life balance.

 
Environment
My concept of a manufactures working environment was old fashioned. I was thinking of sweatshops with no temperature control or safety measures. Most manufacturing plants in the US today are proud of their certifications, safety and quality standards.

 
At McAirlaid’s we are ISO and BRC certified. We have an employee lead safety committee, full-time safety officer, full-time quality team, quarterly update meetings, feedback surveys for improvement, employee recognition board, employee of the month and a visual reminder of Days Accident Free. In the daily shift change meetings, leads review safety guidelines, quality updates plus a review of the current days plan.

 
It’s not all roses. To make our pads, we do work in a high humidity environment so the average temperature is 86 degrees. Which can be stifling. Because we make our own airlaid, we do have fluff that can get into clothing. Steel-toed shoes, hairnets and earplugs are required. Standing for extended periods of time such as 8 to 10 hours daily.

 
Having visited many different plants, other work environments include extremely high temperatures; repetitive lifting of 75+ pounds; working all day in dust; or extreme hygienic standards.

 
What I am saying is that depending on what kind of environment you like, any of these could suit you. The common theme among all these manufacturers is the safety standards each should be (we are) proud to share.

 
Manufacturing is part of the backbone of this country. It provides products used in all aspects of our lives. Without the people who work in manufacturing, life would be much, much harder. Technology can only take us so far, people are an essential piece to running plants.

 
Basic skills needed in manufacturing include the ability to clearly communicate, computer skills and problem solving. These innate skills cannot be taught only refined. How to run a machine, forklift or software is something taught on the job.

 
Manufacturing also has many career paths. I know Technicians that have become Assistant Plant Managers, Shipping Receiving Clerks, Shift Leads, Quality Technicians and Customer Service Representatives. In the words of Mark Perna of Forbes, “If you think manufacturing is a low-skilled, low-paid industry, think again.” If you are looking for a new career, that is diverse, safe, technology driven don’t overlook manufacturing.

 
At McAirlaid’s we are always looking for people that want a career, not just a paycheck. Our goal is to create a place you can be proud to work in. Check us out at https://www.mcairlaids.net/us/Career.html. We have positions available in all areas, production, office, shipping and maintenance.

By Rena DeBerry - Marketing & Communication

Corporate Head Office Germany

Münsterstr. 61-65
48565 Steinfurt
Tel.: +49 2552 9334 0
Fax: +49 2552 9334 20
info@mcairlaids.com

Germany 1

Zum Eichberg 2

37339 Berlingerode

Tel.: +49 36071 9009 100

Fax: +49 36071 9009 99

info@mcairlaids.com

Germany 2

Steigerstr. 10

59379 Selm 

Tel.: +49 2592 9141 50

Fax: +49 2592 9141 20

USA

McAirlaid's Inc.

180 Corporate Drive

Rocky Mount VA 24151

Tel.: +1 540 352 5050

Fax: +1 540 352 5766

sales@mcairlaids.us

Steigerstr. 10

59379 Selm 

Tel.: +49 2592 9141 50

Fax: +49 2592 9141 20

Münsterstr. 61-65
48565 Steinfurt
Tel.: +49 2552 9334 0
Fax: +49 2552 9334 20
info@mcairlaids.com

McAirlaid's Inc.

180 Corporate Drive

Rocky Mount VA 24151

Tel.: +1 540 352 5050

Fax: +1 540 352 5766

sales@mcairlaids.us

Zum Eichberg 2

37339 Berlingerode

Tel.: +49 36071 9009 100

Fax: +49 36071 9009 99

info@mcairlaids.com