A collaborative effort of local government leaders, businesses, post-secondary educators and public schools, Manufacturing Day zeroed in on 100 Culpeper County high school students with the aim of opening their eyes to new vistas of opportunity after graduation.
Held traditionally in early October, Manufacturing Day was launched in 2012 to encourage companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to display a modern view of manufacturing careers.
“What manufacturing was 30, 40 years ago and what it is today are two very different things,” said Harold Philbrick, plant manager of MASCO Cabinetry. Also known as Merillat, MASCO was one of the companies that participated in the event, its second year to do so.
“Not only that, but these days, people have their choice of where to work,” Philbrick added. “We have a labor shortage going on, so you have to adjust and adapt to attract good employees.”
Students from both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools toured three manufacturing companies in different parts of the county, and were introduced to others through activities at their final stop.
“I haven’t decided what to do after high school,” said Ramon Mendez, an EVHS senior who took the tours. “This was good—it helped to learn about different careers I didn’t know about, like being a controller.”
At MASCO, the students were broken into small groups and shown through the cabinet-making process.
“Anything built today will get to the customer tomorrow,” said David Dodson, a quality-control manager who led one tour. Dodson has been with the Culpeper business for 34 years. “We ship our products to construction companies and builders from Maine to Florida.”
He showed the students some of the plant’s computers and electronic gear and the equipment’s operators as the factory transformed wood into cabinet components on the manufacturing floor.
As she followed Dodson on the tour, EVHS senior Gianna Gilmore observed as workers finessed the finish on various pieces with whirring tools.