CMTC's Shifting Gears

We succeed because you do.

Season 3 Episode 4 - Celebrating Manufacturing Day 2021

Posted by Rachel Miller

Episode Show Notes

Episode 4 features James Sly, President & CEO of the East County Economic Development Council; Pierre Coeurdeuil, Advising & Education Director for SFMade; and Ricardo Vasquez, Economic Policy Manager for the LA Mayor’s Office. James, Pierre, and Ricardo discuss how their organizations first got involved with MFG Day, the eye-opening experiences they’ve had at local manufacturers’ facilities during MFG Day, and the steps and benefits to hosting an MFG Day event.

James Sly is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the East County Economic Development Council (EDC). James is responsible for defining and implementing the East County EDC’s ambitious project portfolio, which cuts across education, industry, workforce, and government. Additionally, James leads many of the organization’s strategic partnership and business development efforts, working to make the EDC a locus of economic activity in San Diego. James joined the East County EDC in 2012, initially as a Program Manager tasked with helping the Department of Defense (DoD) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) fine-tune their procurement systems to make government solicitations more attractive to American manufacturers. After leading the development of a new supply chain software solution, he expanded his attention to include the EDC’s other flagship projects: “Aerotropolis,” the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline, and the “Connectory” SAAS platform. Prior to joining the East County EDC, James worked as a management consultant, servicing start-up and mid-size businesses throughout San Diego’s private sector, and as a sought-after workforce expert for the One-Stop Career Center Network and San Diego’s CalWORKS Welfare-to-Work and Refugee Resettlement programs. He has been able to leverage this multifaceted skill set to the EDC’s benefit, coordinating resources from across the spectrum to drive the organization’s mission and support stakeholders throughout East County and the larger San Diego region.

Pierre Coeurdeuil is the Advising and Education Director for SFMade. In his role, Pierre provides specialized and tailored technical assistance to San Francisco and the Bay Area’s growing manufacturing companies. He oversees a comprehensive and evolving suite of industry-specific advising and educational offerings, providing SFMade member companies with support to help them scale profitably, and sustain and create new jobs for diverse local residents. Prior to SFMade, Pierre co-founded Petit Pot, a dessert manufacturer now based in Emeryville. In addition to making delicious pots de crème, he led business development, operations and marketing. This entrepreneurial experience gave him a practical understanding of key manufacturing practices, and complements his background in project management. Pierre is a native of France where he studied food production and industrial performance management. He holds an engineering degree in Agronomy and Food Industry.

Ricardo Vasquez is the Economic Policy Manager for the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ricardo acts as Mayor Garcetti’s liaison to the healthcare industry, tech industry, and manufacturing community in Los Angeles. Prior to the Mayor’s Office, Ricardo worked for the RAND Corporation in their Survey Research Group. Ricardo started his career in the news business at KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO where he produced the KNX Business Hour - the most listened to radio program in its timeslot.


00:00:00 - Introductions

00:03:37 - Why East County EDC, SFMade, and the LA Mayor's Office support Manufacturing Day and how their organizations first got involved

00:09:49 - Discussion about past and upcoming Manufacturing Day events

00:17:17 - Eye-opening observations guests have witnessed at manufacturers' facilities

00:19:58 - How Manufacturing Day participants are impacted by the tours

00:27:13 - How Manufacturing Day raises awareness about the pipeline of skilled workers

00:33:07 - Educational pathways that can help prepare someone for a career in manufacturing

00:39:43 - The benefits of hosting a Manufacturing Day event as a manufacturer

00:44:10 - How to hold a Manufacturing Day event


Gregg Profozich [00:00:00] In the world of manufacturing change is the only constant. How are small and medium-sized manufacturers SMMs to keep up with new technologies, regulations and other important shifts, let alone leverage them to become leaders in their industries? Shifting Gears, a podcast from CMTC highlights leaders from the modern world of manufacturing from SMMs to consultants to industry experts. Each quarter we go deep into topics pertinent to both operating a manufacturing firm and the industry as a whole. Join us to hear about manufacturing sectors' latest trends, groundbreaking technologies and expert insights to help SMMs in California set themselves apart in this exciting modern world of innovation and change. I'm Gregg Profozich, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies at CMTC. I'd like to welcome you. 

Gregg Profozich [00:00:48] In this episode, I'm joined by James Sly, President & CEO of the East County Economic Development Council; Pierre Coeurdeuil, Advising & Education Director for SFMade; and Ricardo Vasquez, Economic Policy Manager for the LA Mayor’s Office. James, Pierre, and Ricardo discuss how their organizations first got involved with MFG Day, the eye-opening experiences they’ve had at local manufacturers’ facilities, and the steps and benefits to hosting an MFG Day event.

Gregg Profozich [00:01:19] Welcome, James. It's great to have you here.

James Sly [00:01:20] It's great to be here.

Gregg Profozich [00:01:21] James, can you please take a minute or two and just tell us a little bit about your current role?

James Sly [00:01:26] Yeah. I am the president and CEO of the East County Economic Development Council. My organization is one of these subregional EDCs in the eastern part of San Diego County. It's our job to try to address some of the meaningful challenges that our community runs into around manufacturing, workforce development, economic development, and education. Manufacturing plays a close part in our heart. We've been involved in some of these manufacturing activities for a number of years.

Gregg Profozich [00:01:51] Thank you, James. It's great to have you here. I'm looking forward to a deeper conversation about this. Pierre, I'm so happy you could join us today.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:01:58] Thank you, Gregg. It's exciting to be here.

Gregg Profozich [00:02:00] Could you also take a few minutes and tell us a little bit about your current role?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:02:03] Sure. I'm the Director of Advising and Education for SFMade. I'm the main adviser for our fastest growing and most needy companies that are the ones that need us the most, really. First some quick background. SFMade is a 10-year-old nonprofit. Founded in 2010. We help manufacturing companies become more profitable and sustainable and really create jobs for their local economy is our spiel. We work with lots of very small manufacturers in addition to a few bigger ones. We count 600 "member companies" that we are engaged with on an annual basis, and about 80% of those 600 companies have five employees or less. Lots of small companies. For us, a big manufacturer has 200 employees.

Gregg Profozich [00:02:49] Glad to have you here today. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Welcome, Ricardo. Glad you could be here.

Ricardo Vasquez [00:02:54] Hey, Gregg. Good to be with you, too.

Gregg Profozich [00:02:55] Could you take a minute or two and tell us a little bit about your current role? 

Ricardo Vasquez [00:02:58] Sure. I'm Ricardo Vasquez. I work for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti in his Office of Economic Development. I'm an Economic Policy Manager focused primarily on helping our manufacturing community, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses, family-owned businesses. The mayor has had a vision since he began his term of getting the resources and partnerships that our small business community needs to succeed and also to help out the larger players. That's why he's gone out there to help found things like AMP SoCal and secure CESMII down here in LA and a bunch of other fun stuff that I'm looking forward to touching upon.

Gregg Profozich [00:03:37] Thank you for that, Ricardo. It's great to have you here. I think from the coverage we have geographically you guys represent some of the areas of the greatest concentrations of population and manufacturers across the state. I think we're going to have a good conversation. I'm really looking forward to getting deeper into the issues. Let's get started. We're here to talk about Manufacturing Day. First, some Manufacturing Day facts. Throughout the month of October, manufacturers will open their doors and attempt to inspire young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. We need today's STEM graduates at the high school, community college, and university level to enter the manufacturing careers and fuel innovations in American manufacturing. Manufacturing is a key wealth generator in our economy and is critical to our long-term economic and national security. With a number of skilled laborers retiring there will be more jobs than workers in manufacturing. Manufacturing Day started out in 2012 when Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proclaimed the first official Manufacturing Day. In 2014 President Barack Obama signed the first presidential proclamation. Since then it's really taken off. Many large organizations supporting manufacturing and advocating for manufacturing got involved, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, The Manufacturing Institute, The Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, and Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and many others. Each of these organizations have supported an ever-growing number of annual events. Manufacturing Day is celebrated nationally on the first Friday in October. Here in California manufacturing is too big a contributor to the economy for a single day. We celebrate Manufacturing Month in California which kicks off on Manufacturing Day. To our panelists — James, Pierre, and Ricardo — why did the organizations you represent support Manufacturing Day, and how did your organizations first get involved? James, why don't we start off with you?

James Sly [00:05:18] Yeah, absolutely, Gregg, and I appreciate it. I think that you called out a lot of reasons why manufacturing is important to all of us. The East County Economic Development Council started out, actually, in 2014 supporting some of our manufacturing activities here in San Diego. In 2016 we launched our Manufacturing Expo. We wanted to celebrate the products that were made in our own backyard. Many of the manufacturing shops are not accessible to the public. So, this was a way for us to showcase all the wonderful work they did, the products they made, and the creations they invented. We also wanted to underscore manufacturing's pretty immense contribution to our regional economy, and the number of people that it employs, and the amount of investment it brings to San Diego. Lastly, we're hoping that our Manufacturing Expo can inspire that next generation of creators, makers, suppliers, the people that are going to build our manufacturing workforce into the future.

Gregg Profozich [00:06:10] Thank you for that, James. I think those are some good points and some good reasons to be involved. Pierre, what are your thoughts?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:06:15] SFMade has been involved with Manufacturing Day for a few years, probably since 2017. We approach Manufacturing Day two different ways. In San Francisco, which is where SFMade has most of its programs, we actually have enough following, because we've been around for a while. SFMade also organizes holiday fairs. Thanks to that following on social media I know we are able to open factories to the public for Manufacturing Day and actually give behind-the-scenes tour, because going in behind the scenes makes it a bit more enticing and exciting. We mostly attract adults and young professionals that are really interested in buying local and in discovering their city and their neighborhood. But we also created an initiative called BAUM, the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative. That's a collaborative effort of 33 cities today around the San Francisco Bay area that really support and help grow manufacturing in the region. This initiative is mostly comprised of city governments. With BAUM we really encourage cities to organize school tours but also to think of their other constituents. It could be adult tours for parents, tours for school boards, or inviting economic development commissions. Really helping them think outside the box.

Gregg Profozich [00:07:40] Okay. Thank you, Pierre. Ricardo, tell us a little bit about how your organization got involved.

Ricardo Vasquez [00:07:44] Sure. Our big goal and reason for getting involved with Manufacturing Week is to really tell the story of manufacturing, something that really doesn't get highlighted or spoken about in the media. Most folks don't know that LA is one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the country. Every year we take the mayor to a site visit, whether it's Walker Foods in Boyle Heights, that have been canning sauces for almost 100 years, or Panavision over there in the Valley — of course, they're manufacturing cameras for almost every major motion picture in the country — to a whole bunch of stuff, including visiting Aerojet Rocketdyne and other folks. The idea is to let people know that we make a lot of stuff in LA, that there are a lot of great careers in the industry, and to encourage young people to explore their options, whether it's getting training at a local community college or pursuing engineering degrees at four-year universities. It's been a lot of fun. This past year, obviously, we had to do this virtually. What we did is convened a group from LA College Promise and LA College Promise Works. That's the free community college program here in the city of Los Angeles that the mayor helped found a few years ago. What we did was pretty simple. The kids were interested in knowing how you end up working at SpaceX, how you work in the space program, how you make items that end up going to Mars. We got a few leading advanced manufacturers — Aerojet Rocketdyne, SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, Northrop Grumman — to describe what they do. They each brought in different staff members, many of whom came from community colleges, and described their journey from school to getting their first job in the industry to where they are now. It was a lot of fun. It was really taking advantage of the fact that, oddly enough in this virtual work from home world, there's a lot of opportunities for people to engage in new ways. That's what we tried to take advantage of last year.

Gregg Profozich [00:09:49] Thank you, Ricardo. The three of you gave really good, solid reasons, from showcasing manufacturing, to career paths for young people, to really opening the eyes to the manufacturing is local contribution to the economy, and the jobs, and to society. I think those are all great points. Thank you for that. I want to delve a little deeper, if we can, into some of the events. Ricardo, you mentioned the past year and the pandemic and virtual. I think it's right on point. Last year Manufacturing Day was a little bit more virtual than in years past. Maybe if we took a two- or three-year view, tell us a little bit about some of the kinds of events that have been in your areas that you've seen and participated in, and maybe some of the successes of those. We can also talk a little bit, if you want, about some of the events that are being planned for this year in your area. Let's talk about the Manufacturing Day events a little bit. Pierre, why don't you start us off?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:10:37] Sure. In San Francisco and around the Bay Area our Manufacturing Day events these past few years we tried to make them as exciting as possible by choosing to open the doors of factories that were the largest or products that were the least well-known. Most of the companies that we know attracted a lot of attention from attendees were food and beverage companies, because it's all about the perks. It's having the promise of an exciting or impressive event. The perks always help. When we toured breweries around San Francisco with a tasting, in the end, it was always a big plus, or when we toured a big brand like Timbuktu Bags, it was also always a big plus. What we tried to do two years before and three years before was organize neighborhood tours. It's not just one Manufacturing Day event and tour, but it's one afternoon, where you tour one bigger building that often has split spaces that house manufacturers, where you can really discover your neighborhood and see the diversity of the manufacturers of the products that are made in those bigger buildings. That was very exciting. Just as a side note here, good speakers always help make the events very enticing. Having either famous business owners, or locally known, or people that are really excited about their mission always help make the events a blast.

Gregg Profozich [00:12:00] Yeah. Like the pub crawl concept to a manufacturing crawl. We're going from site to site and seeing not just one place today. In a shared space that's a great thing you can do.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:12:08] Yeah. Two years ago, if I remember well, we toured a granola company, a chocolate manufacturer, then a bagel manufacturer, and ended at a brewery. Toured all the places. Four tours in a short period of time. You don't have time to delve into the details of each manufacturing facility and how they do things, but half an hour per company keeps things interesting and engaging.

Gregg Profozich [00:12:30] I hope there were samples along the way on that tour.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:12:31] Oh, always. Of course.

Gregg Profozich [00:12:34] Absolutely. Ricardo, why don't you talk a little bit next, some of the events that have occurred in the past couple years and maybe some of the ones that are planned for this Manufacturing Day coming up in October?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:12:42] Sure. One great event we put together — I think it was two years ago — we held a mini-conference at WET Design. WET Design manufacturers, for example, the fountains at Bellagio and a lot of other large-scale water, light, and fire spectacles. We were able to bring together folks from Goodwill Southern California and another group of folks that we had an entrepreneur in residence who really worked on a project for an entire year to discuss how we can do two things: one, encourage small and medium-sized businesses to uptake new technology and two, how we can help workers get upskilled themselves. During that whole mini-conference, it was really about what is the future of our workforce and how can we prepare them. It's one of those things that the old is new again. A lot of people are talking about apprenticeship and how it's really on-the-job training that's going to unlock a lot of opportunities for people. We were able to announce a really great partnership with Goodwill to train and upskill workers. That was a whole lot of fun. Like I said, every year we also like to take the mayor on-site visits with media. I always love going to food processing facilities. Walker Foods, Boyle Heights, been canning salsa for 100 years. A couple of years ago went to Follow Your Heart Earth Island, the makers of vegenaise, and a whole other bunch of products like that that have been a huge success. They've recently been acquired by a large international company. It really looks like this big company is going to come in and make substantial investments in Chatsworth to expand product line. There's a lot going on. One of the big goals of the mayor is how do we highlight sustainability, and energy efficiency, and manufacturing. One of the really proud partnerships there is with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute at UCLA. They've got a whole bunch of interesting stuff going on. If anyone wants to learn more, you can go to Again, that's Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. It's a long name, but if you google them, visit their homepage, you can get a sense of how they're trying to democratize smart manufacturing, make it cheaper for small and medium-sized businesses to get energy efficiencies and new productivity out of their sites with low-cost sensors and cloud computing. Every year bring the spotlight to those small and medium-size family-owned businesses which are really the bedrock of our manufacturing community.

Gregg Profozich [00:15:21] Ricardo, thank you for that. I think you bring up a really good point. You're saying indirectly something that's been going on in manufacturing. Manufacturing is no longer the dark, dangerous, dusty steel mill my grandfather worked in. It's very high-tech these days; it's very clean; it offers stable jobs and things. I want to come back to that with a question, but first I want to allow James to answer this one here. James, tell us about the past and planned events in the area.

James Sly [00:15:45] Yeah. Anyone who's been to San Diego knows that it's a pretty spread-out region. We're lucky in that Manufacturing Day activities occur all throughout San Diego County. It's a combination of manufacturing tours and panels. We take people through the people actually doing the work. We take them to the colleges that are training them. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we're having our sixth annual Manufacturing Expo on September 28. Last year we were lucky enough to be able to do it virtually. Every year we get about 30 to 40 manufacturers to come in and showcase the work that they do and the things that they build. San Diego, in general, is very fortunate, because we have a number of robust manufacturers. We have the chocolatiers and the breweries; we have the Taylor Guitars and aerospace manufacturers. It's an opportunity for us to really illustrate how manufacturing has changed. Gregg, you called it out. I used to work in aerospace manufacturing before my time here at the EDC. The perception is that manufacturing is grimy, older people's jobs, a rundown on employment. That's not the case at all. Manufacturing is a very robust career pathway. The innovations that they've developed there are really impressive. I think that many people would be shocked to walk through these facilities. That's part of our intent on Manufacturing Day is to get as many of our community members, whether job seekers, students, or career professionals, to walk through these manufacturers and see the good work that they're doing. There are hundreds of activities every year throughout this month in San Diego.

Gregg Profozich [00:17:17] You guys have all been to a number of Manufacturing Day events; you've seen a number of plants. It is technology-focused these days between automation and robotics, and smart manufacturing, sensors and systems, and additive manufacturing. We're printing parts in aerospace because of the characteristics of being lighter, and stronger, and better performance on payloads. What are some of the things you've seen that are really cool and high-tech in the manufacturing world that students might not think or that participants in Manufacturing Day might not really think about if they don't understand and haven't been there themselves? What were some of the eye-opening things you've seen manufacturers doing?

James Sly [00:17:52] One of the coolest inventions I think that I've seen... I was in a local aerospace manufacturer. Again, when people imagine manufacturing, they maybe think of a bunch of guys on an assembly line just stamping parts. But in this specific manufacturer, they had what was almost a swimming pool full of some very strong acid. They would drop these titanium parts, these aerospace parts, into this gigantic pool. They could calculate exactly how fast the acid would eat away at the titanium to be able to pull out this piece and have it be perfectly defined, and etched, and milled based off their specs. I always thought that was really fascinating, because you turn the corner, and you find these lab coat guys doing a lot of mathematics to figure out exactly the rate of decay for this titanium versus the acid. You walk in, and you can actually see them just lowering it into this pool and pulling it out, and suddenly there's a pretty defined well-manufactured part.

Gregg Profozich [00:18:45] That's amazing. Unless you're there you wouldn't believe it, unless you see it with your own eyes. It's great that manufacturers open their doors and we can see those kind of things. Pierre, any cool things you've seen on factory tours?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:18:55] We don't have too many advanced manufacturers in San Francisco. But that said, lots of the food manufacturers they are starting to add machinery to get better and become more efficient. What excited me was one of our growing chocolate manufacturers making chocolate bars invested in a chocolate bar-making line and, in particular, with a continuous cooling tunnel and an automated wrapping equipment. I'm not sure that exactly excites everyone, but it did excite people who took the tour that day to see all those chocolate being produced so fast.

Gregg Profozich [00:19:25] Ricardo, any thoughts on this? Any cool stuff you've seen on some of the tours you've been on?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:19:30] One of the coolest things in LA — again, it's because so much of manufacturing is hidden behind walls — is at Aerojet Rocketdyne. They have this outdoor museum of all of the rocket engines that they worked on since the 1950s. You get to walk around this outdoor garden museum of the American space program, which is one of the funnest things that I've been able to see.

Gregg Profozich [00:19:58] Wow. All the way back to Mercury rockets, the original early '60s stuff. That's amazing. Well, thank you for that, guys. There are some really cool things that you can see. It's mind-blowing the diversity of ways that problems are solved and things are manufactured. We take them for granted in the products we see and use every day. We don't realize what goes into them sometimes. It's amazing. Let's talk a little bit about some of the events again that you've been to and part of. What's been the feedback? Are there any stories that stand out, any ways that you've been impacted or seen the impact on some of the participants that have gone through?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:20:28] It's always good when you hear that the mayor really loved the food that the manufacturer made and had a great experience after the end of a tour. One of the best parts of my job is site visits and just getting the opportunity to meet with the business owner, meet with the workers, and enjoy the product, which is the great part of food manufacturing. There's something really wonderful about meeting the folks that are making your food that you can later enjoy. But beyond that, last year when we had to go virtual, it was just a wonderful experience. We got to have a few younger people who just started off their careers in manufacturing discuss their road to manufacturing and why it was important to them. I think that they really connected with other youth in a way that can be challenging. I think a lot of that is just it's easier for young people in community college or another university to see themselves in other young professionals and really gives them an idea of like, "Hey, this might be a great journey for me." We had a lot of great stories from one of the folks at Northrop Grumman who started at community college and now is basically the head of their workforce department over in Palmdale, and another student from Valley College who had a really successful career at Aerojet Rocketdyne. The human stories are always the best. When you can see young professionals and students connect was just really exciting.

Gregg Profozich [00:21:58] It's amazing to see the excitement and the light in the eyes of those who connect with it. That's a huge payoff for these events. James, what are your thoughts on that topic of feedback and stories that stand out from past participants?

James Sly [00:22:11] I think some of the ones that have made the most impact on my perception are — to tie in a little bit to what Ricardo said — some of these younger kids, especially. There was a gap in education for a while, where career technical education and things like shop class weren't really heavily pushed. There's a large subset of our student population who've never really gotten the chance to build things with their hands or see how these things are crafted. One of the most impactful scenarios, for me, is when we get these students coming through, and they get to see what manufacturing entails and how these products are being built, the products that they use every day. Even as we track up into the college students, and their parents, and working professionals, I think all of them have a little bit of that amazement as they see how these pieces, how these parts, how these foods and beverages are all crafted together. Because if you buy it at your local store, off Amazon or something, maybe you don't know, you don't really pay attention to that. But watching them get an understanding for the sorts of skills that it requires, the types of careers that might be available to them as they enter that field has been really interesting. I think the other piece of that I've found personally very interesting is some of the artistry involved in manufacturing. In many ways, welding a part can be like designing a cake or painting a picture. There are a lot of artistic talents and skills that go into manufacturing, and machining, and welding in creating some of these products. When we get the chance to walk our community members, our stakeholders through these various manufacturing facilities or give the manufacturers a chance to show off the things that they've built, it's always really eye-opening for everyone who sees these presentations, because that's not what they were expecting. That's not what came to mind when they thought of manufacturing and what that meant in 2021.

Gregg Profozich [00:23:55] It seems like manufacturing has a reputation as being an assembly line worker, like a drone, just tightening the same five bolts every 30 seconds for hours and hours on end. The reality is it's more about ingenuity, and creativity, and industriousness, and problem-solving, working with your hands and seeing a tangible product going out the door at the end of the day. There's a lot of reward that comes from that, I think. You're hitting on a lot of the topics that are going to resonate with a lot of people. I thank you for that.

Ricardo Vasquez [00:24:20] James brought up the welding example. It just jogged my memory. I was over a couple years ago at Relativity Space before they moved locations. They were still in a small shop. One of their best technicians on his spare time... He's an artist, a welder. Here we have this advanced manufacturer using 3D printing to create rockets in record time with a record small amount of parts. What do they need? They need people who have this artistic talent, and skill, and passion for making things. I think the future is going to be real complicated. I don't think the robots are taking over our jobs for those folks that really grow the parts of their personality that are the most human, the folks that are interested in the arts, creating really cool things. Then you never know how that's going to mix because here you have this really great artist doing amazing work at a company that's 3D printing rockets. Just an interesting thing to think about. 

Gregg Profozich [00:25:23] Absolutely. I love the idea that we're moving from STEM to STEAM, adding in that A there for the artistic part. Because that design component, that artistic flair, that thinking about things differently, that seeing the world visually and spatially. People with those kinds of talents can really thrive in a manufacturing environment, because it is all about understanding all the pieces of the production process, and the production machinery, and the material being worked on come together. Those skills are invaluable in manufacturing. Excellent points, Ricardo. Pierre, any thoughts?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:25:51] In San Francisco what I remember from these past few years and how Manufacturing Day events really marked me, I can give you two examples. One of them is when we have school tours or even public tours, hearing someone say either, "I had no idea this was made that way," or, "I had no idea this was made here," is always something that I love hearing. It means that people really discovered something and changed their perception as to how or where something was made. That's what Manufacturing Day is about. It's changing the public's perception of manufacturing and manufacturing jobs. The second example is people finding jobs from discovering a factory they didn't know was there and was in their city. Used to be a belt manufacturer who moved out, unfortunately, two years ago from San Francisco. Someone found a job in design, because they had always been in apparel design all their life. After taking a tour during Manufacturing Day that person was able to apply and find a job, also, because she got to meet the owner of the company right away. It was a pretty good connection. That's the other thing that these tours help you do is put a foot inside a company and meet people who work there. In terms of job opportunities, that's also a good way to approach getting to know a company and also an industry in general.

Gregg Profozich [00:27:13] Great point. Those kind of connections and really that, "I didn't know," that resonates a lot with me, too, the "I didn't know it was done this way," or "I didn't know that could do that," or "I didn't even know that these things were made here." Those are always the stories I think that resonate the most. Thank you all for that. I think those are some great points. Let's talk a little bit about how Manufacturing Day and Manufacturing Month California can raise awareness to one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, having a pipeline of skilled workers. I think the statistics I've seen from the Department of Labor say we're expecting manufacturing to have a need nationwide for about 3.5 million jobs in the next 10 years. Those jobs can pay anywhere from $60,000, $80,000 to $110,000, $115,000 often. Good stable high-paying jobs. Let's talk a little about the pipeline of skilled workers. How do you think Manufacturing Day raises awareness to that and really connects those dots? Pierre, why don't we start with you?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:28:04] I completely agree with the fact that the workforce shortage is one of the biggest issues there because people just don't think of manufacturing as a viable career, even though there's plenty of opportunities for advancement and it's been super resilient during the pandemic. Primarily the types of jobs we see in our organization helps manufacturers hire see that there is somewhat of a need for skilled workers. But around San Francisco, we see that manufacturers do need workers, and they have trouble hiring. This is really a need we've heard of for a few years now because people just don't think of manufacturing as a career that's available to them, even though it's been super resilient during the pandemic, and there's plenty of opportunities for advancement. That said, around San Francisco, we don't have so many advanced manufacturers. So, they don't need very skilled workers. They're very often open to training on the job and need very basic skills. Even then, they have trouble hiring. It is a really big issue in manufacturing. It can help in just shedding some light into the fact that yes, the manufacturing sector is there; there are manufacturers around you, probably not too far from where you live. You should consider them, and maybe go knock on their door, and tour them during Manufacturing Day to see what they do and whether they could offer you a job, whether it's today or in a few years when they need your type of skills.

Gregg Profozich [00:29:28] Thanks for that, Pierre. I really appreciate it. Ricardo, what is your perspective?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:29:30] There's a lot of job opportunities. That's the main message that we're trying to get to younger people, that if this is something that they're interested in, if science, technology, and entrepreneurship is something that creates a passion, then manufacturing might be a really great fit for them. It's not only the workers that are retiring; it's also the business owners that are retiring. There's a lot of opportunity for youth that want to jump into the business and potentially take over. We're working with Valley College on actually doing a four-week intensive boot camp for first-year college students that are part of LA College Promise. These students are just going to learn the real basics, learn some safety skills, get a sense of what is the manufacturing landscape in Los Angeles, and then we're going to help them find an internship for about 10 weeks through the LA College Promise Works program. We're trying to be innovative. We're trying to find youth where they are. We're also leveraging the institutions that are already doing a lot of great workforce development work.

Gregg Profozich [00:30:39] Thank you, Ricardo. James, your thoughts?

James Sly [00:30:41] Yeah, Gregg, I think you nailed it at the beginning of this. We see a lot of challenge in manufacturing around hiring a competent, consistent workforce. As we look at the aging out of that population, you are seeing some pretty big gaps between what we've got now versus the needs that are approaching us in the very near future. We really use Manufacturing Day, and Manufacturing Month, and the activities associated with that to highlight the career pathways that are available within manufacturing. Our Economic Development Council works a lot with our local community colleges, our high school districts, and our universities. For manufacturing, we're really in the first part of that work-based learning spectrum around awareness, because if you ask an incoming college student or a soon to be graduating senior, "Hey, what do you want to be when you grow up?" they don't usually choose manufacturing. It's not because those careers aren't interesting or exciting; it's because they're not aware of them. Especially if you look at, again, a recently graduated senior out of high school, they'll probably say, "Well, I want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer." Within manufacturing, there are thousands of different career pathways. I think Pierre has made a really good point around the breadth of experiences that are available in manufacturing. It's not just engineers and welders; there are artists and bakers. Manufacturing spans between breweries to bakers, apparel, aerospace. One of our big intents behind our Manufacturing Day activities is to show the breadth of all the career pathways that are available there. We do that by bringing our community members, our students, our parents in throughout these manufacturers, but we also partner with our local education entities to bring in some of the teachers, because part of creating a demonstrable, effective workforce is bringing in the people that are creating that. We bring in some of the faculty from our local community colleges; we bring in the university professors, the high school teachers to show them what manufacturing looks like so that as they're teaching what will, hopefully, be our next wave of manufacturing talent, they have a frame of reference that can identify how well these jobs can perform, how well they can pay, the stabilities there. We called out earlier that during the pandemic as everyone was shutting down many manufacturers were doing really well. They were able to maintain many of their operations. We believe that it's absolutely a viable career path and that more people would choose it if they were aware of the opportunities that were available.

Gregg Profozich [00:33:07] Let's go a little bit more into that. My next question was to talk a little bit more about the academic institutions that are engaged in the very important role of preparing our next generation of workers. What are the educational pathways in the high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions in your areas that can help prepare someone for a career in manufacturing? I go to an event. I'm excited. Now, what do I do?

James Sly [00:33:26] We're really fortunate in San Diego. We have a lot of community colleges, high school districts, and universities that partner really well together to try and create these pretty robust career pathway ecosystems. Throughout our county, we have various welding programs, machining and manufacturing programs. We have a variety of engineering initiatives that branch out, depending on which aspect of manufacturing you want to get into. We have partners like MiraCosta College in north county. We have Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District in east county, City College downtown. All of them are touching and piecing together these career pathways, these work-based learning opportunities in manufacturing. We work very closely with our local workforce investment board, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, and with some of our state and county officials to set up pre-apprenticeships and internships, and tie those in with the work our education partners are doing. They've done a really good job, especially in recent years, trying to build out as many on-the-job training opportunities as they can for people looking to get into manufacturing. For a college, it's hard for them to put in a $900,000 machine so that everybody gets a chance to work on it. But we've seen some really robust partnerships between education and industry that have empowered the education of some of these people looking to break into manufacturing. They'll go to a college, and they'll go through a welding program, or they'll go through a machining program, and they'll learn it from the book perspective. Then our employers will open their doors and allow them to get some time on the machines and get some time producing parts. What we see is a really robust pipeline that ends up with a trained, competent person at the end.

Gregg Profozich [00:35:08] If I'm a student looking for a career path, there are great opportunities in San Diego County to engage with one of these manufacturing skills ecosystems. If I'm a manufacturer looking for skilled workers, same answer. Engage with these same ecosystems that are there. We just need to know about them and know how to connect with them. Win-win for everybody there. Pierre, let's talk about what's going on in the Bay Area in terms of academic institutions and educational pathways.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:35:33] SFMade and around San Francisco, we have two different programs to help with this pipeline of workers who discover what the manufacturing ecosystem is like. First, we have a program called YouthMade, where we offer about 50 students every year to intern in our manufacturing companies in San Francisco so they can really see what it's like to work at a local manufacturer and what type of skill they require from their workers. In addition to this, throughout the year we work with high school students really to expose them through factory tours. Not just for Manufacturing Day, but it's something we do on a regular basis, just to get the students excited and help them realize they can do a lot in a manufacturing company. In addition to this, they also get to have hands-on experience by really doing some workshops with business owners and really hear not just what a manufacturer is like but hear the story of the owners behind these companies and how they got there because often it's not a clear path for these owners of companies. Sometimes got there by accident. It's good for younger generations and students to realize that they don't have to have a clear path right away and to know they're going to end up in that exact type of job or that exact company. To be open to discovering new things in manufacturing also allow you to do lots of different things and to be almost a jack of all trades in a company. That's something that younger generations need to see and realize.

Gregg Profozich [00:37:04] Absolutely. Thank you for that, Pierre. Ricardo, your thoughts?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:37:07] Yeah, there's a lot going on. Just thinking from the perspective of students, one of the things in our drive to help students improve on their math and reading scores has meant that, unfortunately, a lot of shop classes have gone by the wayside. But we still have a couple of really great shop programs in high school, in Van Nuys High and Chatsworth High. They're doing really amazing work getting students excited about the industry and letting them know how they can continue their education. For a lot of students that continuation is going to be at LA Valley College, LA Trade Tech. They've done a lot of great work in improving and upgrading their training programs. Recently LA Valley College got entirely new CNC machines and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. Students are really getting trained on the latest and greatest so that when they go out into the workforce, they're ahead of the curve already. But like we talked about earlier, the big component is what's happening on the job to help train workers. One partnership that's been really exciting has been with Goodwill Southern California. They've been doing some interesting work in helping employers through the apprenticeship system and getting folks certified and all set up. They're earning and learning as they go through the process. It just makes a lot of sense to grow in your job. It makes a lot of sense for the business owner to invest in their employees so that folks feel invested, and part of that community, and want to stay. Having more small businesses connect with Goodwill and other intermediaries that are offering apprenticeships and other structured learning on the job I think is really, really exciting. A couple other things that are coming down the pipeline. CESMII — again, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. They're going to be opening a cyber maker space at LA City College. That's to help train youth on what is smart manufacturing. There's a data component. It's not just about making things; it's about understanding how a process can be improved. A lot of cool things happening. But from the perspective of the learner, there's a bunch of different ways to get engaged from just going to community colleges to see what's of interest for you. Or perhaps if you're at a manufacturing site, maybe there's a way for you to bring aboard a Goodwill or even on your own to get online with Tooling U and a bunch of other platforms to upgrade your own skills.

Gregg Profozich [00:39:43] Absolutely. There are so many different ways these days to get that educational information, from the local community colleges, university system, some of the high schools, to all of the online tools. Absolutely great resources out there. Thank you for that. Let's shift a little bit to talk about the manufacturers' perspective a little bit. If I'm a manufacturer, what are the benefits of hosting a Manufacturing Day event? Why would I want to do one of these?

James Sly [00:40:06] I think that we've talked pretty frequently throughout this production around the challenges that manufacturers have hiring talent. I think that, again, part of that boils down to awareness. For many of these manufacturers, sure, you've got the huge manufacturers that take up six acres and everybody knows where they're at. But here in San Diego, something like 86% of our businesses are small businesses, less than 20 people. Many of our manufacturers are tucked into these little business parks or small industrial parks. For them to find talent they post something on a website — on, or indeed, or something. Nobody knows who they are. These Manufacturing Day activities give them an opportunity to, again, showcase the work that they do and also maybe highlight why they could be a great employer for the people that are looking for a job. I think that on the hiring end it's a great opportunity for them to find that prospective welder, that prospective machinist, that person that they're looking for. On the business side of it we see a lot of business-to-business activities coming through these Manufacturing Day events. At least here in San Diego when we host these Manufacturing Day walkthroughs, or tours, or panels, what we see is a lot of manufacturers are seeing what everyone else is doing. They're looking for best practices. They're seeing the products that each other makes and who they can use as suppliers. If you're a very small — micro or medium-sized — manufacturer, opening your doors is a great way to show off what you're doing not only to the community but also to potential customers, potential suppliers, partners, and vendors. It's a great way to establish some partnerships that might otherwise be very difficult to establish.

Gregg Profozich [00:41:43] Great points, great insights there. Pierre?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:41:47] It can also be getting the attention of very targeted people like a council member, high profile people around you. But also seconding what James said, we've seen manufacturers around San Francisco organize Manufacturing Day events not for the public but really as a way to strengthen existing relationships. You can just have a private party and invite your suppliers, your main clients, make sure you get to know each other and reward them with a tour or snacks and swag. It doesn't take much, but it goes a long way to, again, strengthen those relationships. Whatever type of event you throw, whether it's a public one or a private one, it's always a benefit to your company to host a Manufacturing Day event.

Gregg Profozich [00:42:30] Ricardo, what are your thoughts?

Ricardo Vasquez [00:42:31] Building off what Pierre said, our most important resource really is each other and building community. A lot of times I think there's so much going on when you're running a small to medium-sized business that it's easy to not get to knowing your neighbors. I've heard stories of a lot of folks that their supplier was just down the street, and they never knew that they made this funky little part that they've been looking for all over the place. Get to know each other. There's nothing more important than having a strong community. Because then once you got that going, you're going to be able to advocate for what you need; you're going to be able to get more attention for when you need to let people know you're hiring. There's just so many ways to amplify your voice by coming together that that alone makes it worth it.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:43:21] I also want to jump in and add, if possible, that it can be stressful if you list an event on the Manufacturing Day website — because it's pretty clear and easy to list an event — and then realize that you have close to zero sign-ups and not too much traction. That's where partnering is also a great way to bring more visibility and people to your event, whether it's from nonprofits like ours, or from a local ED, from the Chamber of Commerce, or even tagging along with another manufacturer that may be really close to you and having a joint event. There are lots of ways to really give yourself more visibility if you think that your small brand and company, maybe your not-so-great location might not attract people to your doors.

Gregg Profozich [00:44:10] Great points. Reach out to local organizations — the East County EDC, the mayor's office, San Francisco Made, CMTC. We sponsor, we coordinate, and we evangelize Manufacturing Day across the state of California. We love to make connections between manufacturers holding events and entities and organizations of populations that would like to come see them — high schools, community colleges, etcetera. We work very hard every year to make that happen. If you find yourself in that situation, please reach out. We'll see if there's any way we can help you. One of the last questions here: if I was a manufacturer and I wanted to sponsor an event, what would I need to do? How do you hold a Manufacturing Day event?

James Sly [00:44:50] Yeah. On September 28 we're hosting our sixth annual Manufacturing Day Expo. If you're interested in sponsoring or participating, our website for that can be found at We've talked about all the benefits of partnering and participating in these events. I think that it's a great way for manufacturers to reinvest in their community with pretty tangible ROI. On our behalf, you can go to our website at On September 28 we'll be hosting our sixth one. We're shooting for about 50 manufacturers here in the eastern part of San Diego. It should be a great time. It always is.

Gregg Profozich [00:45:29] In the Bay Area, Pierre?

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:45:31] We've helped lots of manufacturers host events. It's pretty easy to put together. There are lots of documentation on the MFG Day website. They really take you through the different steps and give you tips on how to make it successful, who to reach out to to make it bigger. Also, it's really the central way where to list your event. Because that way if you're part of either a manufacturer or even the public, you can also see where the other events happen around you, not just actually on Manufacturing Day. Sometimes, like for us at SFMade, we encourage manufacturers to list and host events not just on Manufacturing Day but around the whole week so we can make it bigger and give more opportunities, especially for schools and the public to come on days that work better for them.

Gregg Profozich [00:46:17] Pierre, thank you for that. You go to, you may end up at a site called Creators Wanted. That's exactly where you need to be. Lots of great materials on Manufacturing Day events — how to hold one and also where they are locally in your area. In past years they've had a map, and you could go by geographic area or even ZIP Code in some cases and find out all of the Manufacturing Day events that could be attended. To summarize our discussion today, I want to thank each of you for being here. Manufacturing Day is great. It's a great opportunity for manufacturers and for those interested in learning about the industry — the potential future workers, students who are trying to make career decisions, etcetera. It's a great way to showcase manufacturing. You've got factories that are open for tour. We get to get in behind-the-scenes and get that behind-the-scenes tour and really find out how things are made and how products we use every day, how cool the processes are around it and how technology is added into that process. We get to lose our stereotypes about the fact that it's dangerous, and dirty, and dull, and grimy, and dark. It's actually very fun and interesting a lot of times. You see people really thriving and really enjoying their job. Adults, young professionals, schools, students, and economic development organizations all benefit from the showcasing of manufacturing. It helps everyone understand the contribution of manufacturing to the economy. For every manufacturing job, I think the statistic is that there are two and a half jobs supporting it. If you have a factory of 100 people, you've got 250 people working outside that factory supporting that work. It's a multiplier on the economy that has a huge economic impact. We can inspire the next generation of workers, makers, creators. We need people who are innovative and problem-solvers who like working with their hands. They can make a huge contribution to society, to our economy, and to our national security by looking into and pursuing jobs in the manufacturing sector. Those jobs are high paying and can be very stable jobs. Highly skilled workers have a lot of portability, if you will, across different organizations. Ricardo mentioned a couple times apprenticeships. A lot of apprenticeships do offer portable certificates, where you can go from one business to another, one employer to another, one state to another and your credential and your skills still carries over and carries credibility. A lot of high-paying and stable jobs that can come. We get to really dazzle, and explore, and expand horizons. The "I didn't know" effect that Pierre was talking about I think is huge, just seeing the light in the eyes of people like, "Wow, that's really cool how that's made" as you're on one of these events. It opens the doors to connections with educational institutions, their educational pathways and opportunities for young people looking to explore careers here. Getting in and seeing a Manufacturing Day event is a great way to figure out, "Hey, is this right for me? What would I like — A or B?" those considerations as you're trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. It's also a great opportunity for the small manufacturers, for the midsize manufacturers looking for a pipeline of workers. Begin to develop relationships with those chaperones that come through those plant tours and start thinking about this is an institution that could give me a pipeline of skilled workers. How do I partner with them? Do I want to do an apprenticeship? All kinds of opportunities can come out of that. That really brings us to the next piece, which is the awareness of future employees and new business contacts. It's about that local ecosystem — educational organizations, other suppliers, potential customers. What is your local manufacturing ecosystem? Manufacturing Day can help you get exposure to that. Last but not least and most importantly, it's a lot of fun opening up your facility and talking about what you do to people who are interested in it, seeing the light bulbs go off in people's minds, and get excited and enthusiastic about what you're doing, and just learning. Manufacturing Day offers some great promise. James, Pierre, and Ricardo, I really appreciate you being here today. Thank you so much for joining me and for sharing your perspectives and insights with me and with our listeners.

Ricardo Vasquez  [00:50:07] Thanks, Gregg.

Pierre Coeurdeuil [00:50:09] Thank you, Gregg. Pleasure to be here.

James Sly  [00:50:10] Thank you for having us. Manufacturing Day gives us the chance to show off all the work that we're doing statewide. Thank you for giving us the chance to talk about it.

Gregg Profozich [00:50:17] You're very, very welcome. To our listeners, thank you for joining me for this conversation with James Sly, Pierre Coeurdeuil, and Ricardo Vasquez in discussing celebrating Manufacturing Day 2021. Thank you so much. Have a great day. Stay safe and healthy. Thank you for listening to Shifting Gears, a podcast from CMTC. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with others and post it on your social media platforms. You can subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your preferred podcast directory. For more information on our topic, please visit

CMTC is a private nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance, workforce development, and consulting services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers throughout the state of California. CMTC's mission is to serve as a trusted advisor, providing solutions that increase the productivity and competitiveness of California's manufacturers. CMTC operates under a cooperative agreement for the state of California with the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce. For more information about CMTC please visit For more information about the MEP National Network, or to find your local MEP center visit

Topics: Manufacturing Day 2021

Tell Us What You Think