Manufacturers court younger generation | From the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 11:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 11:21 p.m.

About 800 students in Manatee and Sarasota counties will get a peek into the world of manufacturing today, on a field trip organized each year by the Sarasota & Manatee Manufacturers Association.

The effort is part of “Made in Florida tours” being conducted statewide, and gives the state representation in National Manufacturing Day.

Some of the Southwest Florida students will visit bandage maker ASO LLC and plastic molded parts maker Octex LLC.

Others will head to Venice to see how PGT Industries makes windows and doors, or to south Manatee County for a look at how Sun Hydraulics makes precision valves that are the key to operating hydraulic systems.

“We’ve been orchestrating Made in Florida tours since 2005,” said Peter Straw, execuive director of SAMA.

Today’s plant tours are part of a larger line-up.

Manatee Technical College is holding a manufacturing event of its own from 9 to 11 a.m. today. Straw will provide an overview of the job opportunities at 9 a.m.

Representatives of Feld Entertainment, which recently announced it would move its motor sports division to its headquarters in Ellenton, will be at the college event from 10 to 11 a.m. to talk up new jobs. While Feld is in the entertainment business, the company also is a specialty manufacturer, making its own props, from cannons that shoot humans to Monster Jam trucks. To clue students in on this reality, the company is bringing one of its Monster Jam trucks to the event.

On Wednesday, at least a dozen manufacturers will show up for a 2 to 5 p.m. job fair at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota. Suncoast will offer tours of its precision-machining lab, where students learn how to make parts out of metal.

That program appears to be paying off already for the first students who graduated from it.

Ergotech Inc., which opened a south Manatee County plant last year, hired a couple of students out of the first class who are already far ahead of where they would be if they went into the big-box retailing field.

“They are both making mid-$30-grand to start, and now that they are on the job, they will be getting raises in the near future, because they are showing that they have very valuable skills,” said Anthony Gagliano, director of business services at CareerSource Suncoast.

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