National Manufacturing Day highlights job creators that drive Washington’s economy
Sparks flew and machines roared at Alcoa’s aluminum smelter on Friday, when AWB visited the men and women that drive Washington’s economy as part of National Manufacturing Day.
Alcoa is one of the more than 7,000 Washington manufacturers that produce the raw materials and products that provide such a solid foundation for Washington’s economy. The company also sponsored this year’s Manufacturing Week bus tour, which began on Thursday and is continuing through Oct. 12.
While some AWB staff members were touring in the bus, members of AWB’s government affairs team covered some 333 miles and several stops Thursday and Friday to celebrate National Manufacturing Day with the employers that power our state.
Friday’s celebration began at Alcoa’s plant in Ferndale. The company is a global leader in aluminum, bauxite and other products. Alcoa materials are used in everyday products like aluminum ladders and auto parts. The company’s Ferndale location, Intalco Works, has been in operation since 1966.
And the company produces more than great products. Plant manager Ron Jorgensen said the average wage is about $75,000 a year, a salary that can top $100,000 a year with overtime.
“I think we’re an important part in our region,” Jorgensen said.
After meeting with Jorgensen, AWB’s Bob Battles, Mike Ennis and Clay Hill suited up for a visit to the production line. They donned hardhats, steel-toed boots, flame resistant shirts, safety glasses and earplugs.
Inside a giant warehouse, AWB’s government affairs team visited with the men and women on the production line. Molten metal was transported to large furnaces, where workers transformed it into a sellable form for the company’s customers, such as an ingot or a log.
After Alcoa’s tour AWB’s team traveled to Mount Vernon to visit the PACCAR Technical Center. The center, established in 1982, employs about 500 people, including more than 325 engineers and technicians.
The engineers lead comprehensive tests on nearly every part of a Peterbilt truck, for example.
One semitractor was suspended in midair while robot arms pushed the suspension back and forth to simulate a bumpy highway. Another cab was located on a platform, where machines opened and closed the doors over and over to test the components.
The company also tests engines, for example, including the PACCAR 12.9 liter MX-13, which weights 2,600 pounds and produces up to 510 horsepower.
“We’re always trying to optimize fuel economy, performance and emissions,” Senior Validation Manager Steve Koeffler said.
The company’s testing helps to ensure that a Peterbilt semitractor can last 10 years or 1 million miles.
Next, AWB’s team traveled to the Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center (AMTEC) at Everett Community College, where the college’s many trades and technical skills courses have been combined under one program.
The AMTEC facility covers 54,000 square feet and includes an impressive array of welding booths, precision machining stations, waterjets and design capabilities. This allows students to see a project through from design to completion.
The AWB team stopped to chat with the student chapter of the American Welding Society, who signed a Manufacturing Day flag.
Finally, AWB visited Skills, Incorporated in Auburn. This unique nonprofit both produces components for the aerospace industry and perhaps more importantly, offers extensive job training to people with disabilities.
“Our mission is to hire people with disabilities and get them trained up and in the workforce,” said Dan Olson, plant manager of manufacturing.
AWB’s Manufacturing Day visits revealed committed employers who pay good wages that help Washington families thrive. It also highlighted a small part of the incredible diversity of Washington’s manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, AWB’s Manufacturing Week bus tour continues through Friday, Oct. 12.