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Manufacturing a Creative Workforce Development Strategy

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Fri, Jan 12, 2024 @ 11:12 AM

Often times we only view sales and marketing as a way to generate customers. I would argue that the same marketing principles and tools can be utilized internally; improving employee retention and generating more quality job candidates. We’ve sold our customers on our brand, services and products but have we sold our current and future employees?

The catalyst for my ideas came from HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology which describes marketing as more like a magnet and less like a bullhorn. Inbound Marketing is about “attracting customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.”

Generate Employees that Stay

Think about the marketing activities we conduct to attract customers. Consider how these activities can be modified to attract our employees, creating loyalty, stronger work ethic and buy-in.

The HubSpot Attract Stage of Inbound Methodology: “drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.”

Translated: “Engaging our employees with valuable communication and activities that establish us as an elite employer for whom they are proud to work for.”

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 12

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Tue, Dec 12, 2023 @ 08:30 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees and some of our partners - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

This time, I interviewed Sal Sparacino, Director of Sales at Zestron. They manufacture water based cleaning agents for printed circuit boards.

Sal Sparacino, Director of Sales,  Zestron

Stephanie: Sal, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Sal: I’m from North Jersey and went to engineering school there; that’s where I met Steve Pudles [former Zentech CEO]. But I only entered the electronics industry in 2010. Before that, I was involved in industrial equipment for many years.

I started with General Foods as a Project Engineer, in the commercial food industry. In 2010, I decided I wanted to try something different. That’s when I found Zestron. They were looking for a Technical Marketing Manager at the time. So here I am.

Stephanie: So what drew you to the electronics industry?

The neat thing about the electronics industry is that it’s constantly changing. When you look at the rate of change, it’s incredible. And that means there’s always opportunity. So at Zestron, we make water based cleaning agents for printed circuit boards. And we’ve been able to do some revolutionary types of things over the years and I have enjoyed being a part of that. Our products are geared towards cost effectiveness and efficiency for our customers. Back when I started here, we introduced the first ever pH neutral cleaning agent. Just about every company now has sustainability objectives and the pH neutral product is part of that for us. We’re very much at the forefront of environmental sensitivity.

You had asked earlier why I like this industry so much. I feel like we’re on the forefront of technology here at Zestron, and in the electronics industry as a whole. Zestron is based in Germany where they do a lot of R&D. We have 8 technical centers around the world. The neat thing is as the sales team identifies needs from our customers, we’re able to take those back to our R&D team in Germany and actually translate those needs into solutions. That's definitely a satisfying feeling.

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 11

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Wed, Nov 29, 2023 @ 07:57 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

What I noticed most about Robin is her cheerful attitude and the value she contributes to the team.  She truly embodies what it means to be a part of the manufacturing process!

Robin, Shipping and Receiving Lead,  Zentech Bloomington

Stephanie: How long have you been at Zentech?  

Robin: I have been working here for 5 years. 

Stephanie: Were you in manufacturing before this?  

Robin: Yes – I worked in automotive manufacturing for 27 years; I was a Production Coordinator. 

Stephanie: How did you come to work in manufacturing?  

Robin: It fell in my lap, and I just loved it. 

Stephanie: Why do you love it?  

Robin: I love the challenge, and I like the preciseness of it and how detailed it is. 

Stephanie: What’s your title now? Because you just got promoted! 

Robin: Yes, I did. I was promoted to Shipping and Receiving Lead. 

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 10

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Mon, Nov 06, 2023 @ 12:40 PM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Andy, Testing Supervisor, Zentech Bloomington

Stephanie: What is your title here? 

Andy: I am the Testing Supervisor. 

Stephanie: How long have you been at Zentech? 

Andy: I started as a temp in 2010. 

Stephanie: What do you like about your job? 

Andy: I enjoy coming to work. It’s a great feeling to think about where I started [temp] to where I am now [supervisor]. I like the diversity of what we build. It’s neat to see it from the start to finish, and what it’s actually used for is pretty cool.  

Stephanie: It really matters. Manufacturing is the backbone of our infrastructure.  
Were you in manufacturing before you came here? 

Andy: I went to ITT and got my degree in Computer Electronics Engineering and Electronic Communications Engineering. I actually started here in SMT and then to AOI, to Flying Probe and finally to Conformal Coat. Eventually I ended up in Testing where I am now. That’s the great thing about Zentech – you’re not stuck in just one area. 

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 9

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Thu, Aug 31, 2023 @ 10:12 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Darryl, Production Manager, Zentech Baltimore

Stephanie: How long have you been with Zentech?

Darryl: I’ve been with Zentech for 13 years.

Stephanie: How did you find us?

Darryl: I was referred here by someone at my old job where I had been for 5 years, which was also an contract manufacturer.

Stephanie: So did you have specific schooling before coming?

Darryl: No I didn’t, though I had been doing wire harnesses and box builds, I had never worked in SMT. When I came on board here, I started off as an SMT Operator.

Stephanie: Then where did you move after that?

Darryl: After that, I moved to conformal coating. With time, I started becoming a stand out operator; everyone was doing 20-25 boards a day, I was doing about 30-35. I had a lot of ideas about how we could increase our output. So I went from an operator to a supervisor. One of the things that I’m most proud of is increasing productivity. We were obligated to produce 560 boards a month for this particular customer, and we revamped our process. Within 3 months we were able to get to 800, then in 2 months 1000, then the next month 1200. We were able to double our output by simply implementing continuous improvement.

Stephanie: What made you want to work in manufacturing?

Darryl: I was always interested, especially because we do a lot of aerospace work, and the things we do to help our warfighters.

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 8

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Thu, Aug 10, 2023 @ 07:50 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Nicole - Inventory and Warehouse, Zentech Dallas

Stephanie: What do you do here at Zentech? 

Nicole: I work with the inventory in the warehouse. 

How long have you been at Zentech?  

Nicole: I have been here for a year. 

Stephanie: Were you working in manufacturing before this?  

Nicole: Yes I was. 

Stephanie: So, what other manufacturing work have you done?  

Nicole: I came from a company that built monitors. I worked next to the engineers, and I helped make their first prototypes.  

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 7

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Tue, Jul 11, 2023 @ 07:27 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Kay - Assistant Quality Manager, Zentech Bloomington

Stephanie: How did you get into manufacturing? 

Kay: Manufacturing was actually my first job. I started with it because I knew it was stable income. As an 18-year-old, I liked that it came with benefits. I was there for 4 years, and it was the best job I ever had.  I just fell in love with the flexibility of it; learning a bunch of different trades under one roof by people who’ve been doing it for 20+ years. I liked that I could just jump in as an inexperienced person and do that without going to school, spending extra time and money. I was getting onsite experience while getting paid. I still remember so many skills that I learned. I’ve been at a few other jobs and definitely there and here at Zentech have been the best.  

Stephanie: How long have you been here? 

Kay: I’ve only been here for a year. Overall, I have just 7 years’ experience in manufacturing. I can have a personal style that doesn’t inhibit me from getting hired and doing my job well. Manufacturing really focuses on what you can do.  

Stephanie: Is everything you do each day different, versatile? 

For me, the job that I have right now is very flexible. I am the assistant to the Quality Manager. That means I handle things on the fly. There are some set deadlines, but a lot is handling things as they come. Whether it’s a customer return or wanting to get ahead of an issue.  

Stephanie: I think that’s the cool thing about manufacturing; it’s a different challenge every day, but I think a lot of people might not realize this. They may think it’s monotonous or repetitive. Yes, we are building things over and over but for us each build is different. 

Kay: “Monotony” is not always a bad thing – you come to work, you know what to expect, you know what you are doing, you can just keep plugging away and listen to podcasts and I would rather that than look at a computer all day. In a way it’s relaxing. Especially if you like to see how things work.  

If you don’t want to go to years of school for engineering, jump into the hands-on side of it and manufacturing will start you off with good pay.

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 6

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Mon, Jun 19, 2023 @ 08:17 AM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Cyndi - Scheduling Manager, Zentech Bloomington

Stephanie: How long have you been working at Zentech? 

Cyndi: I started 12 years ago as an SMT Operator. 

Stephanie: What else have you been doing here? 

Cyndi: I became the Lead of SMT and then eventually the supervisor and I was asked to help out with scheduling. Eventually they offered me the scheduling position. 

Stephanie: Were you working in manufacturing before? 

Cyndi: I was, but the place I worked for closed in 2008. At that point, I went back to school and got a degree to be a paralegal, actually. But I decided I didn’t like being behind a desk! 

 

I enjoy manufacturing, I enjoy being able to see what I accomplished at the end of the day, physically making something. 

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 5

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Tue, Jun 06, 2023 @ 01:23 PM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Lyndon - Production & Test Manager, Zentech Dallas

Stephanie: How long have you been at Zentech? 

Lyndon: I have been here for a year and a half. 

Stephanie: Were you in manufacturing before this, or is this new for you? 

Lyndon: I am new to manufacturing. 

Stephanie: What type of schooling did you have? 

Lyndon: I went to school for Electrical Engineering. 

Stephanie: What is your title here at Zentech? 

Lyndon: I started out as a Test Engineer and have recently been promoted to Production and Test Manager. 

Stephanie: Congrats! Have you always wanted to be an Engineer?

Lyndon: When I was little, I wanted to be a lawyer or an engineer. 

Stephanie: What school did you go to? 

Lyndon: Texas A&M. 

Stephanie: I’ve noticed the younger generation isn’t as interested in manufacturing or doesn’t realize it’s a viable career. What do you think? 

Lyndon: I think they often opt to go to school because they think they can make more money elsewhere rather than manufacturing, but the path to earning more money takes longer. 

However, what they may not realize is, in manufacturing, there’s more options, without a lot of school. You can immediately get your foot in the door and work your way up.  


And manufacturing is fun; building is fun.

Stephanie: So, to the person who may not want to or be able to afford schooling, why would you recommend manufacturing?  

Lyndon: You can make decent money right away doing full-time work and you will learn a lot very quickly and actually get hands-on experience instead of just sitting in a classroom. A lot of people gain satisfaction when you can see how a product is built from beginning to end.   

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Manufacturing a Career on the Factory Floor: Part 4

Posted by Stephanie Austin on Wed, May 24, 2023 @ 01:47 PM

This blog series intends to shatter some "manufacturing myths".  Sometimes there is a perception of manufacturing being dirty, dead-end, unskilled, monotonous and boring.The reality is, it's bright, clean, fulfilling, hi-tech, versatile and rewarding!

I had the privilege of interviewing some Zentech employees - a way of humanizing the manufacturing industry to demonstrate why you may want to consider a manufacturing career.

Melissa - Hand Soldering, Zentech Dallas

Stephanie: Have you always done this type of work?

Melissa: I’ve always done this. I started hand soldering in 1988 and this is the 3rd company I’ve worked for. I’ve had long tenures at companies. 

Stephanie: Did you go to special schooling for hand soldering, or did you learn on the job? 

Melissa: On the job. Though they sent me to IPC training. But from then on, I learned everything on the job. 

Stephanie: So, what made you decide to take this route? 

It just happened to fall in my lap. I was in college, and I had 2 brothers here in Dallas and one of my older brothers asked me to come and visit and get a summer job. I’m from Mississippi. I came to get a summer job and I never went back. I had friends who worked at a local electronics manufacturing company. They suggested I fill out an application. I’ve been in the industry ever since. 

Stephanie: Why do you like your job? 

Melissa: You know, I do a lot of re-work here. So, I think when I receive something that is broken, and I get to fix it – it feels like I really accomplished something.   

Stephanie: And you have something tangible that you can say, “I fixed this.” 

Melissa: Exactly. It goes back to the customer, and it works. That makes me feel good. I like fixing things. 

Stephanie: A lot of the younger generation isn’t interested in manufacturing. Do you have an opinion on why or what you would tell them?

Melissa: The thing about it – the younger generation, they have more technology at their fingertips, it’s all just “there”. When I started, it was all new and so I recognized it – oh so this goes in a remote, or a radio.

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