PETALUMA -- More than 40 North Bay manufacturers plan to exhibit at the North Bay’s first industry trade fair to be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, from noon to 6 p.m. at Sequoia Business Center located at 5341 Old Redwood Hwy. in Petaluma.

Co-sponsored by 101MFG, the Society for Manufacturing Engineers and MANEX, the Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence, this trade fair is designed to serve as a networking venue bringing together more than 100 engineers, large manufacturers and local supply chain manufacturers -- along with an equal number of prospective job candidates, teachers, high school and college students -- to see what manufacturers and engineers do so they can prepare for careers.

Officials from the city of Petaluma, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Workforce Investment Board will also be there to show their support for the objectives of this fair, along with other key sponsors, such as Building Economic Success Together (BEST), Vantreo Insurance Brokerage and Exchange Bank.

[caption id="attachment_39812" align="alignleft" width="220"] Dick Herman[/caption]

“Our goal is to expose members of the community with this vital business sector at a time when the economy is expanding and investments are being made in manufacturing capacity that can lead to synergies, new customers and jobs,” according to Dick Herman, president of 101MFG.

“For more than 10 years I’ve been hearing people say that they can’t find qualified electrical engineers, machinists, production managers and others to staff available openings. There is tremendous growth opportunity in our region and the time is right to start thinking about staffing up to meet anticipated demand and fill the talent pool.”

Mr. Herman cited recent evidence of pending growth from just a small group of local manufacturers -- including J&M Manufacturing, Datum Technologies, Moose Boats, Protofab, Donal Manufacturing and PNI Sensors -- who are currently investing upwards of $10 million in new capital equipment.

Patrick Harper, manufacturing manager with the EMG and order fulfillment division of Agilent Technologies, will be the keynote speaker.

He will provide a global perspective on manufacturing and what U.S. firms can learn from their foreign counterparts when it comes to best practices, as well as talk about what the manufacturing industry and society must do to attract the best-and-the-brightest among the next generation to pursue engineering and manufacturing careers.

In addition, he plans to discuss “TQRDC” factors vital for assuring manufacturing success, including: Technology, Quality, Responsibility (to customers, shareowners, employees, and the environment), as well as Delivery and Cost.  

Mr. Herman said that while the manufacturing industry represents only 10 percent of today’s employees, it produces 18 percent of GDP in Sonoma County and 34 percent of total income.

“Manufacturers employ more industrial design professionals than are typically found at creative design firms, and more software engineers than in many parts of the computer industry. There are also a large number of marketing communications managers as well as other job titles to fill,” he said.

Another important objective of this trade fair is to firmly establish the North Bay as a destination for qualified engineering and manufacturing career seekers as a place where they can get in front of local manufacturers that many don’t know are here and receive career information.

“There is demand in our region for an estimated 5,000 employees to fill manufacturing jobs over the next three years,” Mr. Herman said.

To meet this benchmark, area manufacturers are creating a Boot Camp to help train young people on the job, and by putting them to work today.

   At the same time, manufacturers are helping to fund the California Tooling Machinists Apprenticeship Certification training program -- based in Sonoma County -- that is expanding its programs throughout the Bay Area as far south as Fremont and San Jose.   

This credentialing program produces National Institute for Metalworking Skills--certified metalworkers ready to enter the industry with skills verified by performance and theory exams.

“We’re becoming a nation of artisans, skilled tradesmen and micro-builders who collectively form the core of the wealth creation cycle that fuels economic growth, while also creating higher paying jobs.  This mini Hanover-style manufacturing trade fair on Feb. 20 is an excellent opportunity to familiarize candidates and students with exhibiting firms and to start a dialogue that can produce the next generation of qualified workers leading to high productivity in America,” Mr. Herman said.

For information, or to register your firm, contact dherman@101MFG.com. There is a $120 fee for exhibitors, but no fee for attending.