CEO Gina Radke Talks Female Leadership—and Restroom Lines

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CEO Gina Radke Talks Female Leadership—and Restroom Lines

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Who says longer lines for the women’s restroom are a good thing? Manufacturing CEO Gina Radke does. And here’s why—longer lines for the bathroom at manufacturing conferences would mean that more women worked in the industry, where they now only make up a third of the labor force.

Radke used to take photos of the bathroom doors at these conferences and post them to social media, highlighting the absence of other women in line. And if she has anything to say about it, those lines will be growing a lot longer.

The CEO of Galley Support Innovations, Radke likes to say that she got into manufacturing by mistake, and then learned it from the ground up.

  • When she and her husband bought the company—which specializes in interior hardware for aircraft—she thought she’d focus on the marketing side. But as she puts it, she fell in love with the process of turning raw materials into a finished product.
  • They moved the company from California to Arkansas, and soon, she had learned to run all the machines on the floor and immersed herself in every aspect of the business.

Along the way, she couldn’t help but notice that few other women had the same trajectory. Radke was often mistaken for an assistant and rarely encountered other women in leadership positions. She was determined to change that.

  • “If you can see it, you can be it”: Radke has worked to make herself more visible in the manufacturing world, as a role model for other women. The company even designed a calendar in which their female machinists posed as Rosie the Riveter.
  • STEP honoree: In 2019, she was a recipient of the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards—a national honor for accomplished women in the industry. Radke says the conference for honorees was the first time she had been around other women leaders in the industry. It made her feel a sense of relief and encouragement, and she resolved to step up her mentorship so more women would feel the same.
  • “I could write a book”: Inspired by her experience at the STEP conference, Radke wrote a book called “More Than.” In it, she offers guidance to both women and men, so they can achieve a more equitable workforce together.

And there’s more: Under Radke’s leadership, the company has been a pioneer in hiring formerly incarcerated individuals and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. It also created programs to train kids who age out of foster care, helping them transition into well-paying jobs.

The last word: “To women who haven’t considered manufacturing: consider it,” says Radke. “It’s a great field to be in. We need everything, so you get to be creative and process driven. And you have an opportunity to break stereotypes and shatter the status quo.”


How a Foam Manufacturer Makes PPE Production Possible

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For most people, foam does not sound like a crucial part of the COVID-19 pandemic response effort—but it is. Adhesive-backed foam is used in making face shields and other personal protective gear for health care responders, and LAMATEK, Inc., a New Jersey-based manufacturer of flexible foam tapes, gaskets and custom parts, has stepped up to support frontline workers.

When the pandemic hit the region, the company initially intended to use its equipment and workforce to manufacture face shields for the local community, but it soon discovered it had a larger role to play. After listening to customers and other community organizations, LAMATEK’s leaders realized they could provide more value by supporting personal protective needs nationwide. Today, company leaders estimate that they have already supplied between four and five million pieces of foam for face shields.

“We thought we’d make face shields for our community—but then we found out that people were having issues finding components, and the main thing they needed was foam for face shields,” said LAMATEK Vice President Laura Basara. “So we ended up sticking to what we know and producing as much foam as we could for people in need across the country.”

Basara is also a 2017 STEP Ahead Honoree—a distinction conferred by The Manufacturing Institute to recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies.

The need for foam has been widespread, and other manufacturers have reconfigured their production lines to make protective gear as well. Basara said that LAMATEK has received inquiries from manufacturers who traditionally make everything from tractor parts to bicycles to leather bags.

“The whole community has come together to make this massive effort happen,” said Basara. “It’s heartwarming to see everyone doing everything they can.”

Basara credits health care providers with leading the fight against COVID-19, but she is also grateful for the men and women in America’s manufacturing workforce who are creating protective equipment, medical products and daily essentials.

“Critical is not even the word—they’re irreplaceable,” said Basara. “Without manufacturing, this country doesn’t run. Without our team on the line, we can’t solve this. They are our key players, and we are so grateful to them.”

“Manufacturers provide critical services, vital products and essential infrastructure across the country,” said President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons. “Especially at this time of serious challenge, the work they do could not be more important.”


MFG Day Inspires Future Creators to Explore Manufacturing

Every year, shop floors across the country open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to showcase modern manufacturing careers through MFG Day. Carolyn Lee is the Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers. Here she shares what MFG Day is, why it is so important to the future of the industry and how manufacturers can drive attendance to their MFG events.

What is MFG Day?

MFG Day is an initiative to raise awareness for the many opportunities in modern manufacturing. On MFG Day, manufacturers open their doors to open minds about well-paying, rewarding and productive careers that give the next generation the chance to create the future using tomorrow’s technologies today. 

When does it take place?

MFG Day begins on the first Friday of October but events extend throughout the month. Last year there were more than 3,000 MFG Day events hosted in 49 states as well as in Canada and Mexico. More than 325,000 students participated in MFG Day events.

 What happens at MFG Day events?

Participants get a chance to see what is really taking place on many shop floors. This isn’t your grandparents’ manufacturing industry. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and co-bots—robots that work alongside humans—are commonplace on shop floors. And augmented reality and virtual reality are now just reality for many modern manufacturers. All of this and more is available to those who attend an on-site or virtual MFG Day event.

Why is MFG Day especially important this year?

This is a critical moment for the manufacturing industry. The U.S. economy as a whole is facing an unprecedented challenge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturing is no exception, but the industry’s leadership in our nation’s response is showing the public how critical manufacturing is to our country. Manufacturers, the men and women who make things in America, are the ones making the test kits, personal protective equipment and daily items Americans need right now during this crisis. They are developing medicines and vaccines and the equipment needed to test and study treatments. Throughout our nation’s response effort—and during MFG Day in particular—we hope that more young people will see how creators respond when our country needs them most and choose to join in this effort by pursuing a career in modern manufacturing.

Do you have any advice for manufacturers who want to inspire more people to join the workforce?

Host a MFG Day event, and register it on, the new digital home for MFG Day, so people in your area can find it and attend! MFG Day is your opportunity to stand up and be counted, showcasing the reality of careers in our industry. Our country’s future is tied to the continued success of the manufacturing industry, and manufacturing’s success will be determined, as it always has, by its next generation of leaders. Join us in this critical effort to strengthen our industry into the future.

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Samsung Calls on its Network to Support Local Communities

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Samsung partnered with the Dallas Mavericks to feed health care workers at COVID-19 testing sites.

As a large manufacturer with employees spread across the United States, Samsung Electronics North America is leveraging its extensive network to help local communities strengthen their responses to COVID-19. The company has already donated $4.3 million in COVID-19 relief to partners in neighborhoods where a majority of Samsung’s U.S. employees live and work. David Steel, executive vice president and head of corporate affairs for Samsung Electronics America, says that the company’s strong relationships with local communities have helped them to distribute that funding effectively—from providing technology to aid frontline workers to assisting school systems with their transition to remote learning.

“We chose to support local needs in the states with our largest workforce—we partnered with organizations that are really on the front lines in those communities, whether they’re food banks or educational organizations,” said Steel. “Our local communities are so important to us, and we wanted to help them through this time of need.”

Samsung has also expedited some of its planned contributions to support teachers and students. Solve for Tomorrow is Samsung’s annual nationwide contest designed to boost interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math among public school students in grades 6-12. Samsung cancelled the final events scheduled for this spring due to COVID-19, but instead of holding the contest, the company was still able to expedite much of the $3 million in technology to the schools involved in order to help them transition to distributed learning programs.

“After 10 years of the Solve for Tomorrow contest, we’ve built close ties with a whole network of STEM education teachers in schools around the country,” said Steel. “We were able to reach out to many of them and understand their needs as they were transitioning to this new way of teaching and learning, and we were able to help with the technology and supplies that would help underserved schools make this transition.”

Samsung has also long been involved in efforts to support manufacturers and STEM education nationwide. The company was a founding sponsor of Heroes MAKE America, a Manufacturing Institute initiative that equips transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses with the skills and certifications they will need for rewarding careers in manufacturing. Samsung’s grant to the program included financial resources as well as laptops and other key technology for its training locations.

“Our philosophy is that a company thrives with its community,” said Steel. “So for us to be successful, we need our local community to be successful.”

“Manufacturers are dedicated to the health and safety of the people who work in our facilities, live in our neighborhoods and rely on us for the necessities they use every day,” said Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute Carolyn Lee. “We are committed to supporting our employees and our communities—both now and always. Samsung’s local support is a great example of how manufacturers are rising to respond to this crisis.”

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Electronics Manufacturer Sparks Inspiration in NYC

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Manufacturers nationwide are answering our nation’s call and finding creative ways to support of the COVID-19 response effort—including at the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.

Adafruit Industries, an open-source electronics hardware company based in New York City, has retooled their facilities to make two in-demand products: personal protective equipment for health care professionals and electronics for critical medical devices. Currently, the company is working with the New York City government as well as care centers like The Mount Sinai Hospital to deliver face shields, but they have also received requests for electronic components of essential medical machines, including motor controls and pressure sensors for ventilators.

In addition to the new products rolling off the assembly line, some of the items Adafruit was already developing are now being repurposed for medical needs. For example, the company produces thermal cameras and imagers the size of a finger that can determine the temperature of what they are seeing with no contact. Traditionally, these cameras are used for controls in heating, ventilation and air conditioning—but today, those sensors are being used in medical devices for contactless fever screening as part of the coronavirus defense.

Adafruit’s founder and owner Limor Fried highlighted the importance of clear communication with employees and staff—and credited Adafruit’s workers with pulling together in the face of ongoing challenges.

“I think that day-to-day consistency and clear messaging and the tools we have—masks, temperature checks, sanitation protocols—it’s just part of the job,” said Fried. “If you have really good people and trust and transparency, you can get the job done.”

Fried is also a 2019 STEP Ahead Honoree, a distinction conferred by The Manufacturing Institute—the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce and education partner—to recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies. As the head of a 100 percent woman-owned business, she hopes that Adafruit’s role can help inspire young women around the country.

“There are little girls that are scared about what this pandemic is,” said Fried. “But they should know that there’s a woman-owned manufacturer working to combat this virus right in New York City.”

As manufacturers nationwide pull together to create medical equipment and deliver essential products, Fried is confident that the industry will be able to help the country overcome the pandemic.

“This is the epicenter,” said Fried. “But it’s also the epicenter of really tenacious, smart people who are going to see this through.”

“Across the country, the men and women who make things in America are delivering for their communities and their country,” said President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons. “I could not be more proud of their incredible work or more grateful for their commitment to the cause.”

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How One Manufacturer Is Helping School Labs 3-D Print Protective Gear

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As manufacturers address COVID-19, they’re not only producing critical equipment and everyday necessities. They’re also helping their communities lend a hand. Behlen Mfg. Co., a global leader in steel fabrication based in Columbus, Nebraska, organized local labs with 3D printers to develop printable protective gear for health care workers.

Working alongside the labs at the local middle schools, high schools and college, Behlen is producing protective National Institutes of Health–approved face shields developed by Design That Matters around the clock. With schools closed, principals and staff are coming in during the day and on the weekends to gather completed equipment and reload the machines. Two weeks after they first began discussing the program, the company had already helped to provide 255 shields to local hospitals, another 25 to local dentists and 15 to a local nursing home—with many more on the way.

Behlen also expects to ramp up production. A former employee who is now the director of the plastic injection molding lab at a local college has been working on a more sophisticated mold for the mask’s framework. Once that work is complete, they believe they could cut production time from 2.5 hours per mask to just 20 seconds.

“We need to be leaders out there and think outside the box,” said Behlen Mfg. Co. General Manager for Customer Fabrication Heather Macholan. “All of us in manufacturing have untapped skills—and right now, we need to be innovators even more so than we already are.”

Macholan also spoke from a personal perspective about the work Behlen is doing. As a 2013 honoree of The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards, which celebrate women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies, Macholan is proud to help her company serve as a model for young people who might be interested in working in the manufacturing industry one day.

“It’s a way for me to close the loop,” said Macholan. “Kids who are involved in science, technology, engineering and math programs are seeing from our work that manufacturing can make a difference—even in a pandemic. Maybe it’ll spark some innovation, and maybe it’ll encourage somebody who hadn’t thought about it before to go into those types of fields. To me, that’s what’s most gratifying.”

Macholan encouraged other businesses to use untapped skills and resources to support the effort, whether by rethinking existing processes or coming up with new projects to deliver essential needs.

“Manufacturers are masters of dealing with chaos,” said Macholan. “We know how to think on our feet. We know how to change things to meet the needs of the customers. That’s what we provide—and that’s how we will weather this storm.”

“Innovation is at the heart of what manufacturers do every day,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “As we confront this serious challenge, the dedicated efforts of manufacturers across the country are making progress possible.”

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Manufacturers Step Up for Their Communities

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Across the country, the men and women who make things in America are working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. At ID4A Technologies, a global manufacturing technology and industrial automation company based in San Francisco, California, that effort takes many forms as its leadership leverages funds, high-tech infrastructure, advanced manufacturing capabilities and global networks to support frontline workers and vulnerable communities.

ID4A is approaching the challenge in two ways. First, it is supporting the manufacturing and distribution of critical medical devices and health care products. The organization has already donated $5 million from its profits and raised a total of $30 million from shareholders and its leaders are collaborating with partners in 25 countries to rapidly increase the production and distribution of essential products and devices that support frontline workers. Second, the company is supporting hard-hit individuals in their own community by donating $1 million to 10 schools for underserved students in the San Francisco Bay Area, which will help provide critical services for more than 3,000 low-income children and their families.

“Industry leaders have an opportunity to step up and contribute in impactful ways, whether it is by donating supplies, providing funds to relief efforts, supporting their employees or helping their communities get through the COVID-19 crisis,” said ID4A Technologies CEO and Founder Rania Hoteit. “Now is the time to demonstrate a heroic leadership and a bold mindset to not only persevere but innovate, drive and thrive.”

This year, The Manufacturing Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce and education partner, named Hoteit a 2020 STEP Ahead Award honoree. This distinction recognizes women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Production careers who exemplify leadership excellence within their companies.

In addition to working directly on COVID-19 response, ID4A Technologies is assisting other manufacturers with new work configurations. For example, it’s helping other manufacturers reconfigure processes to support social distancing, secure networks and control systems, implement safety measures to protect field workers, support shifts toward remote work and alter product lines to increase the production of medical devices, ventilators and protective gear.

“Although COVID-19 is impacting every business in one way or another, there are unique pressures that the manufacturing industry is facing,” said Hoteit. “If health care workers are the front line heroes fighting against this global pandemic, manufacturing workers are the hidden heroes meeting the large-scale production demand from consumers and ensuring the world has all the supplies and the products it needs to survive, operate, connect and stay safe.”

“Across the country, the men and women who make things in America are delivering for their communities and their country,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “I could not be prouder of their incredible work, or more grateful for their commitment to the cause.”

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Manufacturer Cleans Medical Facilities’ Air During COVID-19

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Overwhelmed medical facilities are expanding and placing urgent orders for HVAC systems, putting AAON, Inc., a commercial heating and cooling equipment manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

On March 29, AAON President and Director Gary Fields received a phone call from one of their sales partners in New York City regarding the need for a new temporary hospital.

“The city was a hotspot for coronavirus. Its permanent care facilities were overwhelmed,” said Fields. “City officials wanted to know what AAON could do to get a temporary space up by April 18. A total of three weeks.”

The temporary medical facility would need heating and cooling units with HEPA filtration systems, which are required in most medical facilities to ensure that recirculated air is clean. That meant standard “off-the-shelf” products wouldn’t work. AAON’s existing inventory also would not fit the bill. The facility needed something big enough to serve large spaces with only a few connections and small enough so the units could be unloaded and positioned using a traditional crane. So AAON sprang into action to design and manufacture the right products.

By the following evening, the project had begun to take shape. The temporary medical facility would involve a total of five tents, requiring 2,200 tons of air conditioning equipment with HEPA capabilities. On March 31 at 5:30 p.m., AAON received the official order. By the next morning at 6:00 a.m., the first of 44 identical 50-ton units began moving down the production line.

AAON team members worked around the clock to complete the order. Three days later, they completed the 44th and final unit, and by April 6, the units had all been delivered—well ahead of schedule.

In addition, AAON has been simultaneously producing other COVID-19 emergency supplies. The State University of New York College at Old Westbury requested 36 similar HVAC units to serve as an additional temporary medical site, and the manufacturer is currently filling orders for facilities in Cranston, Rhode Island, and Denver, Colorado, as well. AAON also recently sent five prototype UV light cabinets to a Springfield, Missouri, hospital, which plans to use them to disinfect masks and other materials.

“AAON was pleased to participate in the effort for this urgent shipment,” said Stephanie Cameron, Community Relations Administrator at AAON, who is also a member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Board of Advisors and a 2015 STEP Ahead Awards Honoree. “As an essential manufacturer of HVAC systems, we are doing all we can for our customers that have AAON equipment on critical infrastructure, and those customers that need new equipment or parts for critical infrastructure.”

Manufacturers around the country are stepping up to help their communities during this pandemic.

“In tough times, the men and women who make things in America can always be counted on to lead the fight,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Today, manufacturers are delivering on that promise and working to keep America healthy and strong.”


Siemens USA’s CEO on Bringing More Women into Manufacturing

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The NAM’s Makers Series is an exclusive interview series featuring creators, innovators and trailblazers in the industry sharing their insights and advice. Each month, we ask founders, executives and leaders of innovative firms what it takes to be a leader for manufacturers and makers in America.

Meet Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA. In this edition of NAM’s Makers Series, she explains why women are essential to manufacturing’s workforce.


NAM Honors Ivanka Trump, Launches Creators Wanted to Mark 125 Years

More than $14 million raised so far for “Creators Wanted” campaign

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Manufacturers and industry leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., last night with high-profile government officials to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the National Association of Manufacturers and the launch of it and The Manufacturing Institute’s “Creators Wanted” campaign. Hosted by the NAM, the event featured Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, who received the organization’s inaugural Alexander Hamilton Award, which recognizes leaders who inspire Americans to promote, perpetuate and preserve manufacturing in America.

“Ivanka Trump embodies the collaborative spirit and relentless drive needed to solve manufacturers’ most pressing challenge—the workforce crisis,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Like no one in government has ever done, she has provided singular leadership and shown an unwavering commitment to modern manufacturing in America.”

Other leaders in attendance included Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and more than a dozen members of Congress from across the political spectrum.

The “Creators Wanted” campaign is an unprecedented, nationwide effort to reshape America’s perception of manufacturing and take on the manufacturing industry’s skills gap. Manufacturing executives are rallying around the initiativemore than $14 million in initial sponsorships will help the campaign engage communities across the country and inspire more Americans to pursue careers in modern manufacturing.

The “Creators Wanted” campaign will feature an on-the-ground, interactive mobile tour in more than 20 states and a culminating “Making America” festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. By 2025, “Creators Wanted” aims to reduce the skills gap in the United States by 600,000, expand the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational schools or reskilling programs by 25% and increase the positive perception of the industry among parents to 50% from 27% today.

“Since its inception 125 years ago, the National Association of Manufacturers has stood up for the men and women who make things in America,” said Timmons. “Today, manufacturers are keeping our promise to make a difference for our communities and our country. We have set ambitious goals that we intend to exceed. We will keep manufacturing front and center in 2020 and deliver the results our members expect and deserve.”

Get involved in the “Creators Wanted” campaign here.

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