So Many Things to Share!
Sharing industry news and what we know with the people who are most important to our success – customers, employees, business and community partners – is critical to our business. Learn how we help:
- Manufacturers and design engineers discover new ways to create innovative product development solutions
- Develop our future leaders
- Change the misperceptions about working in manufacturing to help fill the skills gap
In their ongoing struggle to find and keep employees, rural Minnesota manufacturers are assembling new kinds of perks. One such company is taking a creative approach to its benefits package: It’s opening its own clinic. This summer, Alexandria Industries, located in the central Minnesota city of the same name, will open its Family Health & Wellness Clinic for employees and their families. It’s not only a distinctive benefit—the company also hopes to lower the burden of its healthcare costs.
Spiraling retirements and shrinking unemployment in rural Minnesota are driving worried factory owners to get creative so that current workers stay and future workers come. After years of chronic worker shortages, plants statewide are taking aggressive action.
While U.S. Aluminum extrusion demand continues to step up, demand growth is expected to moderate somewhat this year at the same time as certain supply issues and concerns about future economic growth keep the market very competitive.
The skills gap has been a growing problem with manufacturers for years, at one point even inspiring legislation to encourage on-the-job training and ongoing analysis of the issue... During an interview, Al Sholts, chief operating officer for the Minnesota-based company, Alexandria Industries, explains how manufacturers can take the initiative to train employees and work with schools to close the gap.
Suppliers are already seeing significantly strained capacities generated by ever-increasing product demand. As 2016 develops, the solar market could see unprecedented sales volumes for photovoltaic system suppliers. There are even indicators that great demand will continue into 2017 and beyond based on cost-reduction trends. With all of the action in the market, mounting and racking suppliers may face an extremely high demand for aluminum extrusion or steel components.
Alexandria Industries reaches out to future employees with the Not So Heavy Metal Tour More than 130 prospective employees (and, importantly, their parents and grandparents) toured Alexandria Industries earlier this month as part of their annual Not So Heavy Metal Tour, the company's annual attempt to interest young people in manufacturing.
People working together for the common good – not laws – can play the biggest role in closing the gap of getting skilled workers to fill high-tech manufacturing jobs. That was one of the lessons the Center for the American Experiment learned from a public meeting in Alexandria last Wednesday. The center, a Minneapolis-based think tank, selected Alexandria to lead off a dozen informal town meetings because of its track record of success.
The annual statewide Tour of Manufacturing running through October featured Alexandria Industries’ Not So Heavy Metal Tour on Saturday morning. Alexandria Industries’ director of organizational development Lynette Kluver stated that this tour functions to highlight manufacturing careers within the community via local businesses and the Alexandria Technical and Community College. Part of this event’s goal is to inform the public on several misconceptions of manufacturing as a profession.
Gordon Knott, medical market leader with Alexandria Industries, said, "People often forget that aluminum extrusions can provide improved mechanical properties over castings when comparing the same alloy, including decreased porosity, greater resistance, and ductility, as well as other strength characteristics. Extrusion tooling brings a more cost-effective solution compared to casting, forging, and injection molding. Due to the ability to make near-net shape components, aluminum extrusion can reduce the number of overall components and the need for additional manufacturing processes.
Good news at Alexandria Industries in Douglas County, the heart of the Minnesota manufacturing mecca. The aluminum fabrication company, which employs 480 in the Alexandria area, is investing several million dollars to expand its production and warehouse space. The bad news: The privately held firm, which has long surpassed pre-recession revenue and employment levels, is struggling to fill the 50 jobs that are open or anticipated over the next six months at $15 to $30 an hour, plus benefits.