MFG Day introduces students to plethora of possibilities in manufacturing

Where can you find the largest gift manufacturer in the Christian bookstore world?

Where are the world’s safest bicycles for kids made?

Both of those companies — Dicksons Inc. and Guardian Bikes, respectively — are right here in Seymour.

MFG Day on Friday gave more than 200 students from Brownstown Central, Crothersville, Seymour and Trinity Lutheran high schools an opportunity to learn about these two industries along with Aisin USA Mfg. Inc., Lannett Co. Inc., Pet Supplies Plus, Cummins Seymour Engine Plant and Technical Center and Valeo.

Organized by Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and sponsored by the participating industries, this was the second in-person event. During the inaugural one in 2019, only Seymour High School students participated. Then with the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual option was made available to the schools the past two years.

JCIDC Executive Director Jim Plump opened the day inside Cummins Seymour Engine Plant by thanking all of the companies and schools for being a part of it and his staff, Jackie Hill and Mandy Rohdert, for putting MFG Day together.

He said one of his organization’s jobs is to try to attract new companies to Jackson County, and another is to work with existing industries on expansion.

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson also was part of the welcome, and he said of the 17,000 jobs in the city, half are industrial-related.

“It’s a great chance for you kids to get out here, take a look at what’s going on, learn a little bit about everything and then this may be something you want to pursue or you realize you want to go do something different, and that’s OK,” he said.

Nicholson noted the trip he recently took with Plump to Japan to talk to officials with Japanese companies that are located here, like Cummins and Aisin.

“During the trip, it was interesting to listen to what is coming down the pipeline. All of these companies are trying to figure out what the next thing is, how do we improve it and then of course, whether or not they can build it here in Seymour,” he said.

“Keep in mind as you look around, as you enjoy your day, as you do fun things and meet lots of interesting people, what starts here as a career could very easily turn into travels around the world and getting to see lots of new things,” he said.

After the welcome, the students split into four groups to attend workshops. At one, the focus was on human resources, salaries and budgeting. At another one, it was all about community involvement and employee recognition. One of the sessions had four Jackson County graduates speak about their path from high school to their current manufacturing job. The other one featured information about career development.

The afternoon had students visiting the industries, where they ate lunch, took tours of the facilities and participated in activities.

Seymour High School Jobs for America’s Graduates Specialist Celeste Bowman and Owl Manufacturing teacher Jeremy Wischmeier joined some of their students on visits to Dicksons Inc. and Guardian Bikes.

That was an interesting dynamic because Dicksons has been in Seymour for 78 years and Guardian Bikes just opened here in May.

 

For junior Devon York, visiting Dicksons was familiar territory because he has been working there for about three years.

“Dicksons is just a pretty nice place,” he said. “It’s like living at home because the people there are all like family to me.”

After high school, he said he may be interested in manufacturing because there’s a lot of money to be made.

“When it comes to manufacturing and working there, I would have to say sometimes, it’s pretty calming, and sometimes, it’s pretty stressful if you’re on a really tight schedule. Most of the time, calming,” he said.

York appreciated the opportunity to participate in MFG Day.

“I think it’s nice because it shows kids that they have the choices to see what they can choose to go to,” he said. “Like some people might want to go to Dicksons and work there and in that part of manufacturing — make shirts and make jewelry — and some people might want to make engines at Cummins, and some people may want to make drivetrains at Aisin. It’s just a really good opportunity to show people what they could do in the future.”

Classmate Adriano Caceres said it was interesting to learn what all Dicksons does and the variety of jobs available there and at the other industries.

“It just gives you some knowledge about what your community does and all of the manufacturing aspects,” he said.

His involvement in Owl Manufacturing has sparked an interest in working in manufacturing in the future.

“I’d say it’s pretty interesting in general based on the Owl Manufacturing that I’ve done in school,” Caceres said. “It’s pretty close to home.”

Being in her last year of high school, senior Kathryn Roy soon will make a decision about a career.

“I always have been interested in manufacturing, like being able to build things. My whole life, I’ve grown up helping build cars,” she said.

Learning about Lannett making pharmaceuticals and Guardian Bikes assembling bikes to make kids happy piqued her interest.

“It’s a variety of stuff you can learn of what you can do, multiple different places and companies and factories,” Roy said. “There’s not just one job to do. There are hundreds. You have options, and it just opens your eyes to see how much working, progress and strength and everything goes into actually producing items and making a company work.”

MFG Day was beneficial in helping her narrow down a future job.

“I want to go into the medical field, but manufacturing has been something I’ve been thinking about, and especially going on this tour today, either coming here (Guardian Bikes) or Lannett has my attention more,” Roy said.

Sophomore Jocelyn Hazelip still has a few years to figure out what she wants to do in life, but she was happy to get an opportunity to see what’s available in Seymour.

“With my dad, I got interested in (manufacturing) because he worked in the automotive field for about 20 years, and now, he’s working at UPS third shift,” she said. “I just like working with my hands and taking something apart and putting it back together again. It just caught my eye, and even like attention to detail, I can be a little bit of a perfectionist sometimes.”

Through Owl Manufacturing, she has been able to make shirts and stickers, so that has given her a peek into the manufacturing field.

“I might not want to do exactly what they are doing in manufacturing, but I know I want to do something closely related to it,” Hazelip said. “I know my future career is either being a pilot or working on airplanes, an aircraft mechanic.”

Bowman said MFG Day was great for the students to see what’s available in Seymour because a lot of them may not have known about all of the opportunities.

“So many companies do look to promote from within, so you can come in right out of high school and a lot of places, you can further your education if you want to,” she said. “So that career, you’re not limited.”