News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 5, 2013

Counselors take look at local manufacturers

National Manufacturing Day sheds light on modern tech

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — On Friday, buildings full of technical machinery manned by skilled workers became the classrooms for Vigo County high school and middle school counselors as part of a national Manufacturing Day.

A group of high school and middle school counselors toured Marion Manufacturing in West Terre Haute and also visited Tri-Aerospace, GE Aviation and STARK Industries in Terre Haute.

In addition, TRW in Marshall, Ill., held an open house as part of its 60th anniversary. Employees of WorkOne Western Indiana were also involved in the tours.

“This gives counselors an opportunity to see the real world opportunities after school. When they work with kids, helping them to make career decisions, this lets counselors see what the career actually looks like,” said Doug Dillion, career and technical education director for the Vigo County School Corp.

“Most people don’t realize what modern manufacturing looks like today. It is very different than 20 years ago and even in the last seven years. It is very clean facilities and very high tech,” Dillion said. “It is not a situation where it is [a choice between] a career or college. It requires, not only post-secondary training, but also continuing education and training.”

Rick Stevens, assistant director of student services for the school corporation, added that tours show counselors actual working machinery “and counselors will have a better handle of what is provided in the community when they schedule for 2014-15.”

Dillion said the school corporation offers modern CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines in all of its high schools.

In the Wabash Valley, manufacturing employs 17 percent of all workers and careers in manufacturing offer wages 36 percent above the region’s average wage rate, said Lisa Lee, executive director of WorkOne Western Indiana.

Manufacturing’s mid-skill technicians, with two years or less of post-secondary education, earn higher lifetime earnings than many college graduates, Lee said. Manufacturing has a multiplier effect on the U.S. economy, Lee said, in which every dollar in final sales of manufacturing goods adds $1.48 in economic output from other sectors of the economy.

Tim and Tammy Marion are owners of Marion Manufacturing in West Terre Haute. Their company, with 75 employees, provides wages to workers coming from two-year training programs starting at $15 an hour and goes up to $30 an hour with more technical skills, Tim Marion said.

Tim Marion said some students go to college, but then decide that is not for them. “They would have been way far ahead if they had the experience to try a trade before they got out of high school,” Tim Marion said.

Dillion said the school corporation offers modern CNC machines in all of its high schools

Lee said WorkOne has provided several workers to Marion Manufacturing. WorkOne has funding for an 8-week CNC training program, especially to workers who have lost employment, Lee said Those interested should call WorkOne at 812-238-5616, Ext. 4.

Chris Lance, 24, operates a verticle mill at Marion Manufacturing. He took the WorkOne course at Ivy Tech Community College in Terre Haute. Lance said he had lost employment at CertainTeed and has now worked at the company for the past year. “It is an awesome, great job and a great place to work,” Lance said.

Aaron Wampler, a prototype machinist and programmer at Marion Manufacturing, displayed some model parts he has made for companies such as Caterpillar, such as an oil filter housing/drain adapter. Other firms he had done parts for include Rolls Royce Aircraft, Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and Danville Metal Stamping.

The prototypes are made, then adjustments, such as slats in different locations, are made after a company reviews the part. Once the part is finalized, a cast is made and the part goes into production.

Tim Marion said manufacturing today is “high tech and all computerized. You have to be an intelligent person to be able to do this. You can’t make any mistakes. We look at this as A and F. There is no B and C. You either make a good part or you fail. We can’t sell almost good parts,” he said.

Lindy Fisher, a counselor at Terre Haute North Vigo High School, said the tours “help us understand what skills students need coming in. The emphasis on math and geometry is really important for me to stress to a student. It gives me concrete reasons why they need to hang in there and stick it out and understand that math,” Fisher said. “It is critical to this kind of job.”

“It is helpful to see this work in practice, talk with people about their job and the skills actually doing the job help me explain to students concrete examples,” Fisher said.

In Marshall, Ill., Jennifer Bishop, executive director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce, said she knows the importance of manufacturing, such as TRW Automotive.

“TRW is the largest employer in Marshall with over 720 employees,” Bishop said. “It is the largest supporter of the community,” providing a local tax base but more importantly jobs and income, she said.

The company Friday hosted a hog roast for its employees and provided tours of its production facility every half hour, said Rebecca Parkison, company spokesperson.

Bishop said Marshall has other manufacturing companies, “but to have one celebrate 60 years shows a commitment to our community to see it grow,” she said. Other companies include Yargas Manufacturing, which make speciality fertilizer blenders for the agricultural industry, as well as companies such as Kimco and Charles Industries.

“Each of those companies has 100 employees, so manufacturing is big” for Marshall, Bishop added.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or