If the word “manufacturing” makes you think of giant factories full of grimy, noisy machines tended by multitudes of workers in overalls and hard hats, you need to update your thinking. Yes, there are still some plants like that in the United States, but they are becoming rarer and rarer as technology and specialized training take over the factory floor. There are fewer workers on the floor these days, and the factories of tomorrow will have even fewer.

But manufacturing jobs are not vanishing. They are just changing. Opportunities are increasing in support occupations – marketing, information technology, delivery, etc.             Educational requirements are changing as well. It will take at least a two-year degree – and probably soon, a four-year degree – to work on tomorrow’s high-tech factory floors. As a result, salaries will be higher.

What is behind all this change? The continuing challenge for manufacturing companies to create processes and equipment to help them produce goods more efficiently than their competitors.

In 2014, manufacturers contributed $2.09 trillion to the United States economy, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). This figure has risen steadily since 2009, when manufacturers contributed $1.73 trillion. Manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). And for every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added to the economy – the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.6 million jobs in the United States – about one in six private-sector jobs. More than 12 million Americans – 9 percent of the work force – are employed directly in manufacturing. In 2013, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,506 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $62,546.

U.S. manufacturers are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and higher living standards. In the United States, manufacturers perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D). Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the ninth-largest economy in the world.

And we should continue to be in great shape, at least in the near future. Since the recession, U.S. manufacturing growth has outpaced that of other advanced nations. Over the last five years, more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in our country. One contributing factor is energy. U.S. manufacturing companies continue to have access to cheaper energy than those overseas.

In late 2013, the Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, analyzed the earnings of new hires relative to incumbent workers in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing. The agency found that new hires in the manufacturing sector earn more than new hires in other industries and have done particularly well since the recession began. At the end of 2011, the manufacturing earnings premium for new hires stood at about 38 percent. Since the recession began, real average earnings for new hires in manufacturing grew 3.5 percent, while earnings of incumbents in manufacturing grew about 2.4 percent. Over the same time, real earnings for hires in other industries were flat, and earnings for incumbents in other industries declined.

Some Americans will be surprised by this good news. They have become accustomed to seeing manufacturing jobs go overseas. But in recent years, some key American manufacturers have either brought jobs back from Asia and Latin America or have decided not to export the jobs in the first place.

Manufacturers have discovered the value of bringing production closer to the point of sale, where their employees can engage more directly with customers and adapt quickly to changes in the market. Other factors include rising salaries in China; new labor, environmental, and safety regulations abroad; and the higher cost of energy required to ship products halfway around the world.

But the jobs that are returning will not look much like the jobs that left. The old assembly line is mostly gone. Manufacturing workers will need to be smarter and better trained to get the best jobs in the industry.





www.corporate.ford.com/careers.html            www.corporate.ford.com/careers/transitioning-military.html

Ford Motor Company manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents; its automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company has 66 plants and 194,000 employees worldwide. It provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. Company headquarters are in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford sees a talent shortage in specific skill sets and is seeking, for example, powertrain engineers with electrification skills, software developers with engineering and manufacturing expertise, and automated-driving engineers. These positions require unique skill sets that draw heavily on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.

The company’s founder, Henry Ford, started hiring veterans in 1919, long before most other companies recognized the value that veterans can bring to the work force. The company is currently experiencing its highest volume of hiring in over a decade, and looks to continue to hire veterans.

The company attracts veterans by attending career fairs, tailoring resources to veterans – e.g., a veteran portal on Ford’s career website – and leveraging its veteran-employee group in reaching out to referrals and participating as company representatives at recruiting events.

Ford values the knowledge and expertise that veterans gain during their time in the military.

*  Their experience provides them with great technical skills, and it instills leadership qualities that enable them to excel in just about every division of the company.

*  They have an accelerated learning curve – the ability to learn new skills and concepts.

*  They enter the workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, proven in real-world situations.

*  They are excellent leaders, trained to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation, and inspiration.

*  They also know the dynamics of leadership as part of both hierarchical and peer structures.

*  They understand how teamwork functions in supporting their colleagues while achieving the overarching corporate objective.

*  They have learned to work side-by-side with people who are diverse in race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion, and economic status as well as mental, physical, and attitudinal capabilities.

*  They understand tight schedules and limited resources; and how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress.



Erin Meadows has served her country for 25 years. She is currently a master chief petty officer in the United States Navy Reserve, where she has experience as a paralegal and a recruiter. Her responsibilities include reviewing qualifications of paralegals and sailors who are interested in becoming Navy paralegals, ensuring that new paralegals receive proper training, and advising regional senior enlisted on new recruits. She was promoted to master chief in 2014.

Meadows joined Ford Motor Credit Company in 2001. As a senior paralegal, her responsibilities include ensuring that compliance-related reports are accurate and provided to senior management.

She knows what makes veterans stand out to civilian employers. “Most qualities instilled in military personnel are relatable in civilian life,” she said. “Ones that set veterans apart include promptness, dedication, accountability, and a can-do attitude.”

To those who may not know what they want to do post-military, she suggests her own specialty. “I encourage people to consider becoming paralegals,” she said. “It’s one of the few ratings for which completing schooling leads directly to the completion of a college degree in the related field of civilian work.”

Meadows believes that the military and civilian working worlds are not much different. “The basic skills expected of military personnel are essentially the same skills and abilities that civilian employers expect,” she said.

The military taught her never to underestimate herself. “The high standards, level of commitment, and adaptability I gained have served me well in civilian employment,” she said. “Serving in the Navy has taught me to never underestimate my ability or that of a team, and to reinforce high expectations. These attitudes and characteristics set veterans and reservists apart in the workplace. Employee resource groups, such as Ford’s Veterans Network Group, enable veterans to share best practices and help each other and company management with respect to the value and importance of hiring veterans.”

The master chief said that servicemembers should take advantage of every opportunity before leaving the military. “Take advantage of traditional and non-traditional educational opportunities available in the military,” she said. “Each affords the chance of setting yourself apart from others competing for the same positions.”

Meadows encourages veterans to find a new career at Ford. “Go for it,” she said. “One of the qualities veterans possess is adaptability. In business, change is a constant. While change can be unsettling, veterans know they can and will get through it.

“As the economy struggled, so did many companies. Ford focused on getting back to the basics and supporting its key priorities. The company’s success demanded our full attention. That is like any day in the military. Every decision matters, the right thing must always be done, and we often had to do more with less. Everyone dedicated themselves to their assignments and stayed focused.”







Haworth Inc. manufactures a wide variety of workplace products, including seating, storage products, moveable walls, raised-access flooring, and technology products that enhance collaboration and creativity. The company serves markets in more than 120 countries through a global network of 650 dealers and 6,000 employees. In 2014, Haworth had net sales of $1.8 billion. The company was founded in 1948. It is still family-owned and privately held.

Haworth believes that its values resonate strongly with veterans. The company’s value set includes:

*  demonstrating respect for customers and employees

*  striving for Integrity

*  continuing to learn and improve

*  achieving business results

Historically, Haworth has had a vibrant veteran population. And in recent years, the company recognized a need to re-energize its recruiting efforts and outreach to servicemen and -women.

One of Haworth’s latest efforts is the Veteran Explorer program, which seeks unemployed or underemployed veterans for paid career-building rotations at Haworth. Each candidate participates in three job rotations of 10 weeks each. At the end of the program, the veteran either transitions into a full-time job at Haworth or is placed in another job by a non-profit talent-development organization. Veteran rotations are available in human resources, information technology, logistics, customer service, marketing, and engineering.

Haworth also provides participants with an interviewing and resume-writing workshop, networking with executive leadership, and special events. In addition to this program, Haworth attends veteran job fairs and local community events.

The federal government has created a veteran-population benchmark of 7.2 percent per location. Haworth recognizes that it will take time to reach this benchmark. But in 2015, the company set an aggressive goal to increase its veteran population by 1 percent per U.S. manufacturing location, with incremental increases in subsequent years. Haworth’s goal is to offer a veteran-friendly work environment, write its position descriptions to include veteran equivalencies, create a Veteran Employee Resource Group, and form more community partnerships.



Tim Hodges served in the United States Navy for 26 years, retiring as a commander. He was an intelligence officer in the Navy. Now, he is a program manager with Haworth, in charge of managing an Air Force furniture-systems contract whose annual cost exceeds $7 million. He joined the company in 2014.

Hodges made good use of his educational options while in the Navy. “I took advantage of the military’s tuition assistance program, and earned my master’s degree while on active duty,” he said. “In addition, I sought out military counselors who provided help in translating my military resume into a civilian resume.”

He puts his background in intelligence to use at Haworth. “Intelligence is an analytical process, an organizational process, and a methodical process,” he said. “I use all three of these attributes daily in my civilian job here at Haworth.”

His military experience helps him with the pressures of the job. “I think it has helped me remain calm when others on the job are frantic and stressed out,” he said. “I served a year in Afghanistan; and so I try and remember that, no matter how stressful or hard my job is during the day, I will go home at night and be with my family. Or I could go somewhere and be alone for a while. Or I could take a walk outside the building.”

What advice does Hodges have for veterans? “I would advise them to take advantage of as much as possible of what the military offers. For example, educational benefits, job-search programs, military-to-civilian resume translators, etc. I would also advise them that, wherever they are working, to make sure and get out in the local area and meet people. Getting a civilian job is all about who you know, with a little of what you know thrown in.”

When it comes to resumes, Hodges says this: “Make sure that your military assignments and job responsibilities are clearly defined and explained. Do not try and impress civilians with acronyms and trying to impress them with how much you know in the military. Guess what? You will not impress them. You’ll only lose what could be an excellent opportunity. Be humble.”

He also encourages veteran job seekers to dress for success. “Dress in business clothes,” he said. “My first job when I got out of the Navy was in a suburb of Washington, D.C., and I saw a lot of men wearing military uniform shoes with suits and ties.”





www.tektronix.com              www.tek.com/careers

For more than 65 years, engineers have turned to Tektronix for test, measurement, and monitoring solutions to solve design challenges, improve productivity, and reduce time to market. Tektronix produces test equipment for engineers focused on electronic design, manufacturing, and advanced technology development. The company has locations throughout the United States. Headquarters are in Beaverton, Oregon.

The company traces its roots to the electronics revolution that followed World War II. In 1946, the year after the war ended, the company’s founders, C. Howard Vollum and Melvin J. “Jack” Murdock, invented the time-based triggered oscilloscope. Today, company products include – in addition to oscilloscopes – spectrum analyzers, signal generators, logic and protocol analyzers, power analyzers, and video-waveform monitors.

Tektronix has a military recruitment strategy within its service organization, targeting formally trained and experienced calibration technicians from all branches of the military. The company offers relocation assistance for many positions.

Tektronix values veterans because:

*  They possess a good work ethic and sense of discipline, are adaptable to change, quick to learn, and experienced at managing people or job functions.

*  They are good leaders; they understand accountability and learn to adapt to overcome obstacles.

*  They come out of the military with training and hands-on experience that often is directly related to the job they will be performing.



Dave Merris served in the United States Air Force for 31 years, retiring as a senior master sergeant. He joined Tektronix in 2009 and is now an application engineer manager. His team is responsible for determining calibration-service pricing and capabilities for 23 labs across the country.

“My first civilian job was directly related to my military position,” he said. “Both were calibration technician roles, working on some of the same types of equipment.”

Many of the skills learned in the military quickly become habits. “The military taught me skills that are helpful in my civilian job, such as a strong work ethic – motivated, loyal, and mission-focused,” he said. “I was taught that if you are on time, you’re late – and that the job must be done right the first time, on time, every time, or someone could get hurt. These skills have become habits for most servicemembers.”

“I also developed interpersonal skills. I learned that the team is stronger than the individual, and effective communication with superiors and co-workers are imperative. I developed my leadership skills early in my military career, which fostered a confidence in my leadership abilities that is directly transferable into my current civilian job requirements. As a deployed servicemember, I had to work complex problems and find solutions that may not be covered in a manual. These problems required the ability to quickly analyze the situation and take the initiative to correct them.”

Merris believes that veterans will find the culture at Tektronix familiar. “A large majority of the technicians and management have prior military experience and still display that way of thinking,” he said. “There is some common ground for vets.”

He encourages servicemembers to utilize all the military has to offer them while they are still in the service. “I would advise future veterans to take full advantage of the tuition assistance, and get their degree early in their career,” he said. “Also, take advantage of any and all the additional training offered by the military. Not only is it adding tools to their toolbox, but it’s free. Seek roles of responsibility. Volunteer for projects that will enhance their leadership, planning, and organizing skills.

“Learn to communicate. Volunteer to give briefs to commanders or teams to develop oral communication skills. Take military leadership courses. Leadership courses will help sharpen management skills and provide structured guidance on building current skills. Obtain required licenses and certifications before leaving the military. It may be easier to attain a corresponding civilian license or certification while still in the military, and a lot cheaper in some cases.

“Lastly, be confident in the training received in the military. A lot of folks transitioning into the civilian sector have anxiety about being able to adapt because they are specialized in a specific area or industry, and the military has been their life for the past four years at a minimum.”

Merris also believes it is a good idea to find a mentor outside the military. “A civilian mentor in their field can help them keep abreast of trends outside the military, including information that can also help guide their career inside the military,” he said.






Hormel Foods Corporation is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of food and meat products for consumers throughout the world. Products include hams, bacon, sausages, franks, stews, chili, hash, pepperoni, party trays, shelf-stable microwavable entrees, and salsa.

The company has about 20,500 employees, 63 percent of whom have been with the company for five or more years. Company headquarters are in Austin, Minnesota. Also in Austin are the company’s flagship plant and its research and development division. Hormel Foods also has major manufacturing facilities in Algona, Iowa; Alma, Kansas; Atlanta; Fremont, Nebraska; and Stockton, California. The company sells products in all 50 states through a direct sales force assigned to offices in major cities. Their efforts are supported by sales brokers and distributors.

Transitioning from a military career to one in business can be challenging, and the company tries to help make that transition rewarding for veterans. Hormel Foods has a companywide veterans/military employee resource group, the Hormel Military Veterans Engagement Team (HMVET). The group provides assistance to former and current military members and their families as they integrate into the Hormel Foods culture, while providing a platform for continued camaraderie throughout their career at the company.



Jared Lee is a human resources coordinator at Osceola Food in Iowa. He served in the United States Marine Corps for six years as an ammunition technician, earning the rank of sergeant, and was forward-deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During his first tour, Lee was part of a 100-person provisional rifle platoon attached to an Army infantry unit that provided base security at Al Taqaddum (TQ), Al Anbar Province. During his second tour, he was assigned as an ammunition technician for HQ&S Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, also at TQ. Other leadership roles included squad leader, platoon sergeant, and company training NCO.

He joined Hormel Foods in April 2010, after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Lee’s military experience not only helped him land a career after his Marine service, it also helped him complete his education. “In the Marines, I learned the values of hard work, perseverance, adaptability, and overcoming challenges,” he said. “These helped me earn my bachelor’s degree while working full time, which led to a career with Hormel Foods. I still use these values daily.

“I encourage everyone to put forth the effort necessary to earn a degree – whether occupational or professional. This almost always advances your career potential. However, it’s not always necessary for a management position at Hormel Foods. Military work ethic and principles also allow many of our team members to enjoy the same benefits of employment at Hormel Foods while working in production or other skilled positions, such as quality control or maintenance.”

The leadership skills Lee developed in the Marine Corps are still helping him on a daily basis. “Few of my military job skills are usable in my current position, but almost all of the leadership skills are useful,” he said. “The greatest benefit for me is being able to deal with stress. The Corps placed me in situations that required acting quickly and decisively under pressure to complete the mission. I learned to accept the responsibility of my decisions and actions, and to support the reasons why I made those decisions. This skill has been essential to my career at Hormel Foods. As a reminder, I keep a small jar of sand from the beach of Iwo Jima on my desk. No matter how hard the obstacle, I can persevere to the end and achieve the goal.”

Lee believes the military gave him the confidence to succeed. “I tend to be introverted,” he said. “The military helped boost confidence in my abilities and pushed me to come out of my shell. However, the military is not the only experience that shaped who I am today – my upbringing, beliefs, college, and other work experiences all contributed. My advice: Be who you are, and use your military skills to your advantage in the civilian workplace.”

The Marine veteran was able to fit into the culture at Hormel Foods with no problem. “Our leadership structure is conducive to employees with a military background,” he said. “I easily transitioned into the company’s culture of responsibility and integrity.”

He encourages men and women to go above and beyond while they are in the military. “Make yourself employable,” he said. “Take college courses, earn certificates, attend military leadership courses, and push yourself to exceed the status quo. Also, learn how to prepare an excellent resume and how to answer interview questions. Most military installations provide these services for transitioning vets.”

When it comes to landing a position at Hormel Foods, Lee said veterans should be prepared to sell themselves. “Explain to the recruiter and/or interviewer how your skill set is relevant to the position for which you applied,” he said. “Hormel Foods looks at what you have done or learned as an indicator of what you will do, not what you think you would do. Prepare stories and examples that highlight your experience, work ethic, and skill set.”

About the Author

This article was written by Liz Wheeler