April 24, 2014
11:19 pm

Watervliet Grad Key to National Event

The highly successful 2nd Annual National Manufacturer's Day conducted earlier this month here in Michigan's Great Southwest and all across the country might never have come to be were it not for the key role played by a 1981 graduate of Watervliet High School.  Edward Youdell spent his youth in our midst and then went off to college and graduated in 1985 from Central Michigan University.  

Today, Ed Youdell is President & CEO of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association...an organization that has worked for more than 40-years with nearly 2,500 individual and company members to improve the metal processing, forming, and fabricating industry. The agency is based in Rockford, Illinois and regularly brings together its industry through technology councils, educational programs, networking events, and the FABTECH tradeshow.  

National Manufacturing Day, an event held for the first time ever last fall and dramatically expanded on Friday, October 4, 2013 with the 2nd Annual event, is largely the brainchild of Youdell who created the concept behind the day.  The whole goal of the annual showcase is, to quote Industry Today magazine, "To bring to light the growing importance of manufacturing to the nation's economic well-being while also drawing attention to the industry's satisfyingly high-skill -- and in many cases, high-paying -- jobs."

Youdell is quoted by the magazine's publisher as saying, "It is a day where manufacturers are invited and encouraged to open their shops to their communities, their students, their educators, and their legislators, so that we can get folks inside the doors and begin changing the perception of what manufacturing is and start getting people interested in the single most important sector of the economy."  

The inaugural event a year ago featured more than 240 events in 37 states with more than 7,000 people participating.  Youdell's goal for this year's version was at least 500 events and 15,000 visitors and, "To make manufacturing look cool -- as cool as Apple, marketer of those wildly popular computers.  And by the way...Apple is also a manufacturer."

American manufacturers earlier this year cited nearly 600,000 vacancies in manufacturing jobs.  Youdell wants people to realize that there is a, "huge misunderstanding of what manufacturing is and what it means.  For one, it is clean.  Plant floor jobs look remarkably different than 40-years ago -- and spotless.  There is now a growing amount of high-degree machinery spread across the typical manufacturing floor.  Automation is widespread, and advanced manufacturing technologies are being deployed that need and require supremely educated and critical thinkers."  

Locally Kinexus spearheaded the Manufacturing Day hosting a substantial effort at Sunset Tool and the neighboring Eagle Technologies who sit side-by-side along Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman.  

Youdell was the recipient of the annual CMA Leadership Award from the Council of Manufacturing Associations of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) back in January in Annapolis, Maryland.  He was cited for his leadership in creating the concept of National Manufacturing Day and bringing together other industry-leading organizations including NAM, The Manufacturing Institute, and the U.S. Commerce Department's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership to collaborate as co-producers.  

Upon receipt of the prestigious award, Youdell told industry colleagues, "I am humbled that an idea which started as what seemed like a bit of a pipe dream about how to bolster the image of manufacturing in America and draw attention to its great career opportunities led to this recognition."  He added, "The event will continue to grow and prosper because of the dozens of organizations that now support it and the hundreds of participating companies."  

Congratulations Ed on a great concept and stellar execution.  We're proud of your heritage in Southwest Michigan.  

My thanks to Vicki Letke, an Engineering Assistant at Wolverine Metal Stamping of St. Joseph for bringing Ed's success story to my attention.  
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