Paul Mueller Co. President and CEO David Moore and SRC Holdings Corp. President and CEO Jack Stack served as panelists Dec. 3 at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Manufacturing Outlook. Joe Reynolds, vice president of Central States Industrial, moderated the conversation. 2015 Projection Manufacturing sector growth through 2017, followed by a recession 2018–20. Joe Reynolds: One in five area manufacturing jobs are in the stainless steel sector, an industry your grandfather [Paul Mueller] helped found. How does this legacy continue to impact the area? David Moore: I’ve heard my grandfather asked several times what made him successful. He never, in answers to that question, spoke about products or processes he developed. He always said he was successful because he had the opportunity to surround himself with good people.
Reynolds: What’s your prediction for 2015? Jack Stack: As far as an economic forecast in terms of our businesses – and we are in a lot of different industries [such as] defense, transportation, quarries, mines, (agriculture) – we are really optimistic. We did a 10-year plan during the last recession in 2009. We really saw ’15, ’16 and ’17 to hit it out of the park.
We spent nearly every single dollar from ’14 in terms of earnings and put it back into capital, back into fixed assets to get ready for ’15, ’16 and ’17 and to take advantage of those economic opportunities. Our biggest challenge right now is to get ready for the recession of ’18. … 2018, ’19 and ’20 is when we pay the piper … when we pay the debt (and) inflation gets to us. Eighteen, ’19 and ’20 is when 85 million baby boomers hit Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and represent 25 percent of (GDP). So, our economic outlook is absolutely rosier than you would ever believe. We are on a hiring binge. We are looking to invest in training. We’re very optimistic.
Reynolds: What are your biggest challenges to attracting talent in the stainless steel industry? Moore: Skilled labor is in short supply. I think manufacturing is generally affected by a bit of an image problem to some of the opportunities we have and that affects the quality of some of the people available to us in manufacturing. We have fantastic people, but there are a lot of fantastic people who won’t necessarily listen to us because of manufacturing’s image. When we talk about manufacturing, I think that’s where there are opportunities to affect that perception.
Reynolds: Where could we get better in terms of developing workforce? Stack: When we’re talking about skills sets, we’re having a hard time finding accountants and engineers. … We can teach people the mechanics of a trade … but mindsets are the hardest things to teach. … We used to have some pretty good programs that someone needs to resurrect around here where third graders would go to work. We’d open up our doors and let the third graders in. The third graders would get more of a kick out of a forklift driver than a scientist or something like that. … To this day, we have seen returns.
The biggest difference is these kids want to do something. They want to go somewhere. If you don’t have a business where they can make a difference, you’re going to have a setback. They have been socially trained to want to make a difference. … We have 40,000 college students in this town every single day. So, the pool of talent is there. They have to have the opportunity to feel like they’re going somewhere.[[In-content Ad]]