WARRENSBURG — Local businesses provided on-site tours to Johnson County high school students during Manufacturing Day on Friday, Oct. 4.
Businesses including Alstom, Dollar Tree Distribution Center, Swisher Acquisition Inc., EnerSys Energy Product and Stahl’s Specialty Company participated in this year’s event.
The participating schools included Knob Noster, Warrensburg, Crest Ridge and Kingsville high schools, as well as Warrensburg Area Career Center and University of Central Missouri.
The students who attended are studying mechanical, industrial, construction, CAD, design or science at their respective schools.
Warrensburg R-VI Superintendent Scott Patrick said attendance for this year’s Manufacturing Day event was about triple the previous year’s attendance.
In addition to manufacturing careers, businesses also highlighted other career fields available in their facilities such as human resources, safety, logistics, engineering and design.
James Elliott, Alstom factory test manager, and Dave Lyons, Alstom wiring and production manager, were two of the various Alstom employees to volunteer to lead groups of students through a tour of the facility.
“We always try to hunt for good people and possible replacements for ourselves one day,” Elliott said. “These kids are our future.”
Elliott and Lyons guided a group of students through the Alstom facility while explaining what the train signaling and safety products produced at the location do as well as an overview as to how they are constructed.
While the process for constructing a piece of equipment may seem complicated, Elliott assured students learning comes in time.
“It looks intimidating, but it’s all about learning through repetition,” Elliott said. “No one knows how to tie their shoes on day one.”
Elliott said the effort put into hosting tours usually pays off as he has seen several students from tours in the field a couple years afterwards.
“We have had a lot of kids come through here on different tours and two years later, we see them in here as contractors,” Elliott said. “It’s happened quite a few times.”
Another benefit of the tour for students was the chance to hear what employers look and listen for during the hiring/application process.
“As a manager myself, when I start hiring folks, I look at the experience they have as well as if they are fresh out of college or they showed motivation coming out of college,” Elliott said.
Elliott also emphasized that manufacturing careers can be held by both men and women, made evident to students on the tour by the wide array of positions held by women in the facility ranging from assembly to management.
“The work we have here is not just situated to men; it’s situated to women as well,” Elliott said.
Elliott said events such as these can be beneficial to high school students as it can open their eyes to possibilities they may have been unaware of prior.
“It opens their minds up,” Elliott said. “A lot of kids at this age look at the world through straws. But then they come out and see the opportunities out here for them and it opens their mind up and they think, ‘I can do this.’”