Earlier this month, NWFA member Vermont Natural Coatings hosted its first Manufacturing Day event at their headquarters in Hardwick, Vermont. Manufacturing Day is a nationwide event in which manufacturers across the country invite community members into their facilities to learn about career opportunities and to increase public awareness about manufacturing jobs in general.
Vermont Natural Coatings is a manufacturer of wood flooring finishes that uses all-natural ingredients to make its products. Its process is unique to the industry because a byproduct from local dairy manufacturing – whey – is one of the primary components of its finish. Whey typically is a waste product that is extracted from milk during the cheese-making process. Vermont Natural Coatings works with a local cheese manufacturer to use the whey byproduct in its wood flooring finish.
On a beautiful fall Friday in early October, 30 students from several area high schools and middle schools visited the Vermont Natural Coatings headquarters to learn more about its manufacturing process. Students were rotated among four stations, including finish chemistry, finish uses and sales, abrasives, and industry career paths. Students had an opportunity to learn about how the manufacturer makes its finishes, as well as all the potential career opportunities available with the organization: from chemistry, to marketing, to sales, to production, and more.
One group that rotated through the program included a vocational technical school class focused on construction. During the course of a semester, these students build a tiny home from the ground up. Currently, flooring is not one of the skill sets included in the program, but conversations have begun for Vermont Natural Coatings to provide this training and instruction to expand the depth of the program and the exposure to another career path for these students.
In addition to the Manufacturing Day event, Vermont Natural Coatings also invited all students to participate in a Community Service Day scheduled for later in the month. The service project, which is being conducted by employees of Vermont Natural Coatings, includes the refinishing of the school gymnasium floor at Hardwick Elementary School, which several of the students had attended. All students attending the event will receive hands-on instruction to help introduce them to a career in wood flooring.
Later this month, Middle Tennessee Lumber will host its second Manufacturing Day event. During its first event held last year, nearly 100 students from four different area schools attended. The event included a tour of MTL’s drying yard, kilns, saw mill, grading line, and flooring mill. Students also interacted with four hands-on stations, which included instruction with pneumatic nail guns, sanding machines, stains, and buffing machines. Since the first event, MTL has provided training on installing, sanding and finishing wood floors for two local schools in Hickman County, near its facilities in Burns, Tennessee. This year’s Manufacturing Day event at MTL is expected to draw about another 100 new students.
NWFA member companies interested in hosting Manufacturing Day events in their own communities are encouraged to contact Stephanie Owen at the NWFA. Stephanie can be reached at 800.422.2556, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.