Columbus is not alone in its reliance on manufacturers and engineers to stimulate the local economy.
In Indiana, the manufacturing industry reigns supreme as the largest provider of jobs and overall economic growth in the state.
In 2014 alone, the industry generated $93.6 billion — or 29.45 percent — of the state’s gross domestic product, according to the Indiana Manufacturer’s Association.
To recognize the importance of manufacturers to the Hoosier economy, a few Columbus manufacturing companies opened their doors Oct. 3 to allow the public a glimpse at their operations on National Manufacturing Day.
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“We’re proud of our heritage,” said Stephen Knott, human and technical resources manager for Master Power Transmission, which offered public tours to celebrate Manufacturing Day.
Master’s heritage dates back to the late 1800s, when the Reeves Pulley Co. began developing transmissions at a plant in Columbus.
Master gears came on the scene in the 1920s, and since then the company has continued on its path of developing both Reeves and Master automobile products.
But as more than 100 years have gone by, Master manufacturers have had to adapt to the ever-changing technology that drives its industry.
Sophisticated machines that can measure gear dimensions down to decimal points dominate the plant floor, and computers are set up throughout the plant to ensure data is logged and monitored constantly.
But advances in technology do not necessarily mean the job has gotten easier, Knott said.
“This isn’t for everybody,” Knott said. “It’s not something that everybody wants to do.”
The ability to create products with extreme precision requires specific training, which Knott said many students choose not to pursue.
“It’s hard to get green workers,” he said.
To encourage students to consider a career in today’s manufacturing world, Knott said he and other Master employees often make visits to Ivy Tech and C4 Columbus Area Career Connection.
But more often than not, young professionals choose to enter the manufacturing industry not because of the presentations Knott gives at the schools, but because of family traditions.
Those traditions, Knott said, are what make working for a company like Master, with its long heritage and dedication to accuracy, worth the effort.
“It’s a family kind of atmosphere,” he said.
National Manufacturing Day was first recognized in 2011, when Oct. 2 was officially set aside to recognize the efforts of the manufacturing sector. The day holds special meaning in Indiana, where manufacturers pay 27.4 percent of all wages throughout the state. Right now, 520,000 Indiana workers are employed by a manufacturing company, with more than 92,100 manufacturing jobs created in the Hoosier state since 2009. In the last year alone, Indiana has added an additional 11,100 manufacturing jobs, which is the third largest manufacturing growth in the country, according to the Indiana Manufacturers Association.