Made in PA: How Modern Manufacturers are Finding Success

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The way we’re making our tools today is a
lot different than the way we made them in 1886. We continuously push ourselves and challenge
ourselves to find better ways to do things. We understand that the way we do things today
isn’t going to be good enough tomorrow. Channellocks a tool company. We’re a manufacturer of pliers. We like to say we’re fiercely made in Meadville,
Pennsylvania, which is Northwest PA. We’ve been here for about 131 years. It was originally founded in 1886 by my great
great grandfather, George B. DeArment, who like many wasn’t quite satisfied with the
quality of the tools that were available, so he started to make his own. Today, in 2017 we have about 325 full-time
employees. We manufacture about 120 different
sizes and styles of pliers. Our main flagship product is our genuine Channellock
tongue and groove pliers that we invented in 1933. I’ve worked at Channellock for 17 and a half years. We take pride in our quality.
We take pride in trying to improve our processes,
trying to stay competitive in a world market. It’s a challenge in today’s world, but it’s
fun, it’s a good thing. I think in Northwest PA, we’ve got a strong
work ethic. We’re already heavily concentrated in manufacturing. I think we’ve kind of grown up generationally
in working and making things. What I like about my job is I’m able to maintain
the equipment that allows Channellock to produce the #1 tool in the world. Life here in Northwestern PA, I love it! I love to be able to go outside, smell the
fresh air. See the wild animals. It’s great! We can invest in all the technology and innovation we want but without the people that can leverage it and implement it – what good is it? A wise man once told me there’s 3 ways to generate wealth: You can make it, you can mine it or you can grow it. Pennsylvania’s got all three. Schott North America Advanced Optics plant has been here since 1969. We’re primarily a glass melting and finishing operation. We do some very high technology glasses used in laser applications, some used in infrared applications, as well as many specialty glasses
that get used in semiconductor manufacturing. One of the things we’ve been able to do here in Pennsylvania is the workforce has been able to adapt to the changes that we need
to supply our customers with what they’re looking for. I’m a grinder-polisher. I work in large optics grinding and polishing glass. I’ve worked probably in every area of the
plant since I started 30 years ago. It’s never the same job. It’s always different things you’re doing
every day and the products are amazing. We make from microscopes to telescopes and anything in between. We attract a lot of local talent here and
that talent helps us sustain our workforce. Most of our employees that start here will
finish their careers here. What’s really phenomenal about the Schott products and the wide range of its uses is that it touches just about
every person in a daily basis. And that really does give a lot of pride to
the people here and to myself as well because you can see it affecting the people that you love and care about and everybody in your community. Northeast Pennsylvania is a very ideal location. We’re just minutes from the Pocono Mountains. This area is unbelievable. I hunt, I fish skiing. There’s so much in
this area people don’t realize. Anything you really want to do is in this
area. Having the research and development center
right here next to us is the constant evolution of developing those new products that need
to be introduced into the market. We’ve got a capacity and a capability right
here in our plants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to do things
that very few people in North America can do. The New NY Bridge is just a great example. This replacement is the largest design-build transportation project in the history of the United States. And we at High are in a contract to fabricate
and deliver 50 thousand tons of very large steel girders and other components for this bridge. I’m really proud of our team. They’ve met every single engineering, every
single delivery milestone. It’s a gem for U.S. infrastructure. It’s a gem for Pennsylvania and
American manufacturing. It’s a good atmosphere. It really is. It’s a good team effort. There’s so many people pulling their weight
to do so many different jobs to make all this happen. It’s that culture of strong values around
work, doing the right thing, caring about your coworkers, caring about your community
that we have found here in Central Pennsylvania and it’s a big part of what we love about
being here. We’ve got great technical schools near our
operations that we partner with. It’s all about being able to have that talent
in the workforce. The guys who work for High, they all have
a lot of experience working here. All the guys take pride in the work that they
do because we have to drive on these roads also so we want to make sure that the product we put
out is safe. We’re not just a fabricator of steel bridges. But we are really pushing the boundaries of
what’s possible in precast concrete. A great example of that is the 1200 Intrepid
building in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It’s actually designed to almost
look like a shockwave. That kind of geometry had never been done
in precast concrete before. Which is what made it a just a great challenge for us. They did what we do every day. They deliver and we’re committed to doing
things that others can’t or won’t. When I walk through the doors, there’s a team spirit that we work together and we enjoy working together. When you have access to places like Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York City, Washington DC when you’re kind of in that ecosystem,
there’s a huge amount of economic activity going on right within a couple hundred miles
of Pennsylvania where we are. I think Pennsylvania is a great place to be able to capture that.

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