On July 11th, member firm W.E. Bowers, in coordination with SMACNA Mid Atlantic, gave an exclusive tour of the Bowers facility in Beltsville, MD. More than 20 distinguished guests were in attendance including representatives from local and state agencies, and education programs including public school districts and technical academies. Maryland State Senator Jim Rosapepe was among the distinguished guests.
Scott Sheppard, sheet metal operations manager, and Dale Sheppard, sheet metal preconstruction manager led the tours. Guests were given an overview of the business and the 60,000 square foot facility before heading out onto the shop floor to see it for themselves.
Guests were able to see the entire fabrication process from a roll of sheet metal to duct being loaded onto a truck for delivery to a job site. Most importantly they were able to see how valuable the workers are why the demand for a larger workforce is so critical Speaking on that topic, SMACNA Mid-Atlantic executive director (and organizer of this tour) Bernie Brill commented to the tour guests, “you can see all the jobs available in a setting like this. From welding, to cutting, assembly, all the way to drafting, purchasing and estimating.”
Guests were able to see the diverse workforce that W.E. Bowers has on staff. Dale Sheppard summed it up perfectly by saying, “the opportunity is here for everyone.”
After the tour of the shop floor was completed, a catered lunch was served along with an informal question and answer session. The setting fostered an excellent discussion between W.E. Bowers representatives and tour guests on how they can work to get more students and returning veterans interested in a career in the sheet metal industry. Questions covered topics such as apprenticeships, the hiring process, jobs available that would require a college degree, to questions about the hiring of returning veterans.
Rosita Herndon, Prince George’s County professional schools counselor, was delighted, and commented that, “connecting students with this information could help with our concern regarding high school dropout rates.”
As the lunch discussion was winding down, Todd Kemmerer with the Maryland Workforce Development / Adult Learning, politely urged Brill and the others present from the industry to, “please keep reaching out to us and other like us with this valuable information and to have us come out and tour facilities like this.”
All in attendance agreed that this tour was eye-opening and very successful. They all agreed that they would speak with their colleagues and spread the word as fast as they could about the opportunities currently available in the sheet metal industry.
Brill strongly believes that tours and outreach to local officials are vital to the long term success of the industry. “As an industry we have a great success story to tell. Our members provide great jobs to thousands of people along with excellent benefits that allowing them to provide for their families. At the same time, our members are helping build a nation using some of the latest technologies available in construction. But unless we tell our story it doesn’t get told.”
If your firm is interested in offering a tour like this to interested officials in your local area, please contact your local chapter to begin the process of setting up an outreach effort.