Greenville Advances in What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Contest

MERCER COUNTY, Pa. — A short video made by students at Greenville Jr/Sr High Schools asks the ageless question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

How the video answers that question is like something out of a Humphrey Bogart film, complete with gritty, black and white effects and a cool, jazz soundtrack.

Dressed in a trenchcoat and fedora, the video’s star and student at Greenville high school, Bella Gehly, asks a series of questions to employees at Hodge Foundry in Greenville. The foundry was the school’s partner in this year’s What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? West Central video contest.

John Forbes, material manager, and Joe Banas, business development manager, discussed with Gehly what the company does. Banas explained the process of its gray and ductile iron castings ranging from 100 pounds up to 200,000 pounds.

The foundry starts with a foam or wood pattern that’s used to create a mold, Banas explained in the video, which showed footage of the process. Molten iron is poured into the mold’s cavity, creating the shape. After final cleaning, painting and heat treating, the product is inspected and shipped to the customer.

“One of the biggest challenges at Hodge Foundry is we are a job shop, which makes a lot of onesies, twosies” Forbes said. “It’s a different product each day, so it’s a different challenge each day. It’s an exciting part of it, but it’s also a tough part.”

“Now I know what Hodge Foundry does, but what could I do there,” Gehly asked.

Manufacturing offers a number of careers, including labor and production, engineering and design, and sales and accounting, said Jesse Anderson, human resources/purchasing coordinator at Hodge. He believes manufacturing is a good career choice for young people because “it’s an opportunity to come in and establish yourself in a good industry and work your way up if you’re willing to learn,” he said.

Four other schools in the West Central region of the competition had similar messages in their videos, but it was Greenville’s that received the Outstanding Overall Program award, advancing the team to the statewide competition. The production team is composed of seventh and eighth graders Gehly, Lia Carter, Peyton Davis, Aubrey Cadman and Maggie Goodlin, as well as their teacher coach, Matthew Gehly.

“This award demonstrates how this project is all pulled together with the highest technical, visual and storytelling achievements,” said Laurie Knoll, marketing communications specialist with the Northwest Industrial Resource Center, or NWIRC.

Greenville also took home the Viewers’ Choice award with 867 votes. From March 23 to 26, community members viewed the videos online and voted on them. Though voting was down because of the coronavirus pandemic, the competition still received 2,279 votes, Knoll said.

The West Central region competition is one of 16 regional contests this year, with more than 250 teams paired with more than 250 manufacturers in the commonwealth, said Bob Zaruta, NWIRC president.

“You have been involved in a very special and a very important community initiative,” Zaruta said. “A community initiative that can have a profound impact on our residents, neighborhoods, manufacturers and other businesses in our region.”

Three marketing judges and three video judges reviewed each video in the West Central competition. Winners receive medals designed and manufactured at the Mercer County Career Center as well as trophies sponsored by Laurel Technical Institute, Sharon.

What’s So Cool About Manufacturing 2020

Mercer Area Middle-High School’s video on Sharon Tube Co., Wheatland, earned its team the Outstanding Marketing Plan and Outstanding Career Pathway awards. In addition to making the vids, the students were tasked with “creating a creative plan to get their message out to the community and to encourage as many people as possible to watch and vote for their video,” Knoll said.

The career pathway award is given to the video that presents a good story that teaches the audience about career opportunities in manufacturing, “perhaps even how an employee got to where they are or about what they do,” Knoll said.

Mercer’s video – produced by seventh and eighth graders Ozzie Shaffer, Alex Schuster, Haley Pears, Lily Erwin and Madison Herron – featured Courtney Budnik, quality control engineer at Sharon Tube, who was able to earn her college degree after getting her job. Budnik talked about the diversity at the company and working with women who hold different positions throughout the company, “whether it’s production, out on the floor, in quality,” she said.

One of Budnik’s coworkers, Dana Scott, is director of production planning with Zekelman Industries, parent company of Sharon Tube.

“I’m able to meet with the customer and go through a forecast of what they’re expecting to sell and what they’re expecting to receive as far as a product,” Scott said.

From there, Scott sets up the production plans, and receives and tracks the inventory, she said.

The Outstanding Cool award was presented to West Middlesex Jr/Sr High School for its team’s video on G.W. Becker, Inc. in Hermitage. The video explored the opportunities for on-the-job training at the overhead crane manufacturer, as well as the role additive manufacturing is playing in the industry’s future.

Students Alex Letcher, Olivia Gatewood, Ruby Redfoot, Jacob Rodgers, Zane Mauro and Jacob Aikens, spoke with Winter Davis, a welder at the company. As more people retire, Davis expects G.W. Becker to be hiring soon.

“A lot of people went to college for a few decades instead of coming into the job field immediately,” she said. “And manufacturing’s going to have a lot of open jobs. So we’re going to need more people.”

Lakeview Middle School’s video on Technical Precision Inc., Hadley, earned it the Outstanding Creativity award. Team members include Riley Sample, Jordan Olson, Kaylyn Hockenberry, Philip Peltonen, Aiden Voorhees and Alexis Freidl.

The students spoke with Scott Wells, president, owner and CEO of the 27-year-old tool and metal die manufacturer, who said the company makes parts that fit into every aspect of life, and the company is growing.

“The market depends on how housing does, how automotive does, and on,” Wells said. “We’ve been pretty much busy our entire 27 years doing this.”

Technical Precision hires many people from area tech schools and trains them on the job. “We make them into tool and die makers, Wells said.

The team from Hickory High School visited Miller Industries, Hermitage, where they spoke with employees there, including Paul Kalaitzian, automation engineer. Kalaitzian discussed being able to get to work out of high school.

“You don’t really need a college degree to get in here,” Kalaitzian said. “You just need to be able to learn hands on and to be able to work together as a team out there.”

Hickory team members include Ameah Stewart, Myah Burns, Karyss McKnight, Gabryell Campbell, Ryan Mack and Brandon Levan.

The winners were announced Friday during a remote award ceremony hosted by Knoll and Zaruta, who filmed themselves from their homes. The Greenville team will advance to the statewide competition, which is typically held in Harrisburg, but will also be remote this year. The statewide awards show is tentatively scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on June 9.

The competition gives students an opportunity to learn about Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector and share what they learn with their peers. Manufacturing in the commonwealth is growing, thriving and evolving, said Gov. Tom Wolf.

“It’s a sector that ‘s on the cutting-edge of technology and innovation, and is looking for new talent to help propel it forward even further,” Wolf said. “That’s why we’re so proud each year of the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? program.”

Through its PAsmart and Manufacturing PA initiatives, Pennsylvania is working to invest in preparing students for in-demand careers and get them the “best possible training for manufacturing careers,” Wolf said.

“We’re investing in science and technology education, we’re partnering with businesses to expand apprenticeships and increasing job training opportunities,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvania has a world-class workforce and we are proud of it.”

Regionally, the NWIRC works to help manufacturers improve their ability to compete, grow and create opportunities for the next generation, Zaruta said. For students, teachers, family members and community leaders, Zaruta asked to continue spreading the word about manufacturing and “the cool things being made in our backyard,” he said.

Viewers can watch winning videos from around Pennsylvania at WhatsSoCool.org/contests/best-of-pa-contest.

All of the West Central videos can be viewed at WhatsSoCool.org/contests/west-central-pa. The Business Journal is a sponsor of the West Central competition.

Pictured above: The team from Greenville Jr/Sr High Schools includes Matthew Gehly, teacher coach, and students Lia Carter, Bella Gehly, Peyton Davis, Aubrey Cadman and Maggie Goodlin.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.