TAMA Highlights Positives

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MANUFACTURING TOUR: Members of the Tulsa Area Manufacturers Association tour a manufacturing facility. The association tours up to 12 local companies each year as a way to learn about new manufacturing practices.

Courtesy TAMA

A lot has changed in the manufacturing industry, says Richard Havir, president of the Tulsa Area Manufacturers Association (), particularly in the past 30 years.

The general perception is that manufacturing companies are dirty and unsafe, he says. But, in reality, “most manufacturing companies have higher standards than many other companies.”

Havir believes the misconception is a large reason why the industry is experiencing a shortage in its workforce. “I don’t know of any manufacturing company without open positions: engineers, sales people, accounting, shop floor,” he says, citing the broad job descriptions available as something else that surprises people.

“We see engineers come out of school and struggle to find a job,” he says. However, the manufacturing industry has the jobs waiting.

“At career fairs, people don’t want to come up and talk to us until they learn about the opportunities we have and the ability there is to make a very good living.”

To encourage students to consider a job in the industry, awards up to 10 scholarships each year to students pursuing technical training and engineering studies. Its annual golf event raises money for the scholarships.

The association also has various committees that put together training and development initiatives.

While Havir understands the desire that many parents have to see their children go to college, sometimes students need other options, like learning a trade at Tulsa Tech or Tulsa Community College. “We strive to let people know that if college is not for you, that’s okay,” he says.

In addition, manufacturing jobs offer advancement opportunities. “We focus on bringing people in with whatever skills they have and moving them up.”

regularly brings teachers in for tours of manufacturing facilities. Havir is currently working with teachers from Broken Arrow and Tulsa Public Schools to expand teachers’ knowledge of industrial careers, “and you can see it on their faces. They are shocked at what they see. It’s not old, dusty and dirty; it’s bright and clean,” he says.

The 60-year-old organization also endeavors to provide continuous education to its members. That includes education on current manufacturing practices and how to support one another in the industry and up to 12 tours each year of local companies—in the manufacturing industry and others.

The group recently toured Kimberly Clark, a “wonderful example of modern manufacturing,” says Havir, referring to the company’s safe, highly-managed site.

Supporting its members, recruiting new individuals into the field, and spreading the word on what the industry truly is remain the organization’s core areas of focus. “Manufacturing is one of the largest economic producers within the state,” says Havir. “It employs more people, pays more salaries; it’s the highest contributor to the economy.”

Updated 02-25-2014

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