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Changing the Image of Manufacturing

About the Author

Jack Pfunder

Jack Pfunder

President & CEO
Manufacturers Resource Center

  • Expertise in start-ups, turnarounds and dynamic enterprises in domestic and international markets
  • Former Chairman/CEO and Co-founder of fiber optics display manufacturer Ani-Motion Inc.
  • Former President/CEO of defense/aerospace supplier MICROCOM
  • Former President, Vice President and General Manager positions with manufacturing firms including REMEC and divisions of Loral Corporation and Lockheed Martin
  • Chairman, Manufacturing Council of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • MBA, University of Dallas; BS in Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

Changing the Image of Manufacturing

by Jack Pfunder
Manufacturers Resource Center

U.S. manufacturing is poised for growth, providing it has the right talent. The good news is that now, for the first time in a long time, manufacturing is being discussed in a positive light, especially by legislators. We are hearing words like "reshoring" and "Buy American." Walmart just announced it would increase sourcing of American-made products by $50 billion over the next decade. About 80% of people interviewed feel manufacturing is critical for the future of our country.

Not all is rosy, however, and some deep-seated problems still persist. One out of four workers in manufacturing is over 55, two out of three parents feel a manufacturing career is not for their child, and hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers. Unfortunately, students and parents still perceive manufacturing jobs as dirty, low wage, unstable and boring. If they would visit a plant, they would realize that cutting-edge technology has transformed manufacturing.

The future of growing manufacturing will depend on changing the negative stereotypes so students can be introduced to transferable, family-sustaining careers in manufacturing. These careers include machining, welding and high-tech maintenance jobs that keep the automated machines running. Yes, we need the training courses, but that isn't the total answer if you don't have the talented students interested in a manufacturing career. There is no silver bullet that will quickly fix the bad image manufacturing has today. Young people, parents and teachers must be made aware that manufacturing environments today are technologically sophisticated, good-paying, challenging and interesting. Effective communication of that message will require a team approach that includes manufacturers, schools, elected officials, students and passionate parents who recognize manufacturing for its financial and rewarding opportunities as a career path.

Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) helps manufacturers compete and grow through innovation and technology acceleration. Our premier offerings include Technology Scouting, Market Opportunity Research and Sales Development; New Product Ideation and Commercialization; Green Transformation; and Strategic Lean Management Systems for Sustainability. A nonprofit organization dedicated to creating jobs and economic opportunity in Eastern Pennsylvania?s Lehigh Valley, Berks, Schuylkill and Carbon Counties, MRC is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST-MEP), and a member of the statewide network of Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs). MRC is also a member of the Lehigh Valley, Northeast and Southeast Pennsylvania Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) consortia of economic development service providers governed by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). For additional information about MRC services, please visit

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