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Manufacturers group holds 'out of this world' event

Manufacturing is on the move in South Central Pennsylvania, with the sector at its highest employment since the recession, according to industry professionals.

And over the last year, manufacturing in Central Pennsylvania has had an impact beyond the commonwealth. In fact, some local industries are supporting jobs that are out of this world, literally.

That impact was celebrated during the regional Manufacturers' Association's annual conference Wednesday night.

Now in its 112th year, the event recognizes the importance of the manufacturing industry, commends a few association members and encourages participation in the association’s and the industry’s endeavors. It was held at Penn State York’s Pullo Center.

"There are over 117,000 manufacturing employees working in South Central PA, and in many of our counties (manufacturing) is the largest employer," Tom Palisin, director of the association, said. "The manufacturing impact is growing as well, with almost $13 billion in economic output, annually."

A number of those manufacturing jobs support the work performed in the past by the evening's keynote speaker, astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly. Kelly was selected to speak not only point to how local manufacturing supports aerospace technology and space exploration, but also to highlight how focus, determination and persistence can help individuals and organizations overcome personal and/or business challenges, said Todd Willman, marketing spokesman for the association.

As a NASA space mission commander with four trips to space under his belt and the author of several books, Kelly shared the importance of communication and teamwork.

"There’s never any excuse for not communicating with the people you work with … I failed to communicate the plan to my team and it nearly cost me my life," he said, recalling his first bombing mission in 1991 during the war with Iraq. "Timely communication is important in everything you do."

Several awards were handed out during the event.

  • Manufacturer of the Year: MKT Metal Manufacturing Inc. The Manchester Township company specializes in fabricating sheet-metal duct work and HVAC accessories. It also provides other services, such as design and pre-assembly of ductwork. This past year, the company invested in new equipment, made a big business acquisition and is hiring new employees, an investment that totals almost $10 million, Palisin said. The award goes to the member organization that best demonstrates a contribution to the local economy, dedication to employees and membership in the Manufacturers’ Association.

  • Partner of the Year: South Central PA Works (SCPa Works), serves as the region’s workforce development board providing public funding for employment and training programs and has partnered with the Manufacturers’ Association for the past 15 years.

  • Business Innovator of the Year: Electronic Manufacturing Services Group Inc., a firm that makes printed circuit boards, which are in just about every kind of electronic appliance, ranging from microwave ovens to clocks to cell phones.

  • Community Investor Award: Specialty Granules Inc., a Maryland-based aggregate and mining company that supplies building materials throughout North America.

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