Faces of Manufacturing

WorkAdvance helps local woman make life-changing moves

A difficult life lesson is transformed into hard work, consistency and a sense of purpose for a Warren mother. Ashley Zins has never held what she calls “typical jobs”. She describes herself as artistic, creative and has worked in manufacturing settings before – including a granite company.


However, she hit a bump that slowed her career journey for a while. Zins was justice impacted for OVI offenses, and part of her two-year sentence was to complete a program at the Community Corrections Association (CCA).


“When I was in jail, I was where I needed to be. I was on a bad path. I felt like God sat me down in there to learn from this,” Zins said.


A pivotal moment
She’s the mother to a teenager and a 21-year-old, and she often worried how being away would affect them.


After a couple of months at CCA, she saw a WorkAdvance flyer. That was a turning point for her life.


“The job coordinator pointed me to it, and I was interested. I ended up filling out an application and got accepted in November of 2022,” Zins said.


Then, in December, she became part of the WorkAdvance cohort with more than a dozen others. Participants go through classes and career readiness as part of the experience through the National Center for Urban Solutions and Eastern Gateway Community College.


“I have always enjoyed manufacturing because you get to make things. I’ll even do little projects in my spare time. My dad always said not to rely on a man to take care of me, and my mom was the same way,” Zins said.


The first steps
Meanwhile, she requested an early release from CCA, and one of the requirements was to be employed. Her first choice was ClarkDietrich in Vienna, a WorkAdvance partner, but that posed a transportation challenge with her suspended license and the plant not being on the bus line.


CCA denied her early release, but to go home, she still needed a temporary job to pay off a fine.  That’s when the NCUS and MVMC stepped in to help get her a job at a dry cleaner.


On March 18, Zins left CCA after completing the requirements. She credits the WorkAdvance opportunity for a second chance at life.


“I’m just so thankful for everyone. The career coaches still check up on me. The interview classes really helped me with communication. It gave me confidence, and all the support has boosted that. Now, I get to help others in similar situations,” Zins added.


Breaking free
She quit the dry cleaner a couple months ago and was hired at ClarkDietrich. She works on the pack line and plans to be there as long as possible.


“I’m hitting all my marks, so far, and bonus money has been a blessing. I have to be there a while longer for apprenticeship consideration, but I plan to do that and work my way up at the company,” Zins said.


She’s relieved to have a steady income and not be as stressed about money and paying bills. Zins has also been sober for three years, sponsors people in recovery, does talks in meetings and regularly attends them for herself.


“I really believe in karma and putting out the good. You just have to keep giving back. It’s not hard. You have to do the work and keep showing up,” Zins said.


It’s been a somber reality check when she reflects on everything that happened.


“I could’ve killed someone, and then, seeing how everything affected my kids. I’m thankfully working on repairing relationships with them now,” Zins said.


“I know what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to lose my family,” she added.

Building a future
Now that she’s made monumental changes, the future includes helping others do the same. Zins will continue working with people in recovery and wants to eventually become a chemical dependency counselor. She’s currently taking classes through Kent State University.


One of her long-term goals is to build a better community. Most recently, she spoke to participants in the All-Women WorkAdvance cohort about her story and experience. Those who have helped her up to this point are happy to see her succeeding.


“I was impressed, right away, with Ashley’s desire to have a good job and be active in her community, and I’m glad she’s doing so well,” said Kelly Bancroft, project manager for the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Member Manufacturers

New member spotlight: Roemer Industries

The continued struggle to find and retain workers, along with a key network connection, led Roemer Industries to join Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. Like many businesses, the company needs help building its workforce.


Roemer specializes in custom graphic industrial identification products like nameplates, signs, labels, overlays and panels. The company has more than 150 customers. Most of them fall in the transportation, railroad, automotive and aerospace industries.

“We’re not just fabricators, and we’re not just printers. We marry the two, and that makes us more unique,” said Alyssa Pawluk, marketing specialist at Roemer Industries.


The company originally started in Sharon, Pa. in 1937. Decades later, Roemer moved to Masury, where it’s been for more than 30 years. Dave Gurska is the owner and president. He also owns AML Industries in Warren, another MVMC member. Roemer currently has 41 employees.


Complying with material certifications


Roemer has certain standards to abide by for various jobs – including government contracts.


“A lot of customers require certifications for materials and documentation for jobs. When we deal with the metals and materials, we’re very specific about what we use and how we apply it,” said Jill Palumbo, Roemer’s chief operating officer.


Paula Lazzari is the business development specialist at Roemer Industries, and she recently got an inquiry about a possible government contract. A business that makes military helmets was asking about Roemer’s certifications for materials and doing research.


“The company is deciding if we comply, and they might send us something to quote, and then we’ll see if we can build that relationship,” said Lazzari.


Palumbo says sometimes those contracts can be difficult. It’s usually a long process and includes mountains of paperwork.

The process of making products


Various metals and materials are used to make the products like stainless steel, aluminum, brass, vinyl and polyester, to name a few. Depending on the customer’s needs, a product can be made heat and weather resistant, reflective or tamper-evident. Some of the processes used at Roemer include etching, screen printing, laser marking, milling, CNC punching, welding, engraving, digital printing and vinyl cutting.


“We have custom tools to make nameplates and labels. There are certain requirements for every order. Some of the products can be made different ways, but it’s about finding the best way based on the quantity,” Lazzari said.

Roemer can also add a barcode or QR code on any label. This allows it to be scanned for inventory purposes or to pull up maintenance information.


The etching process and washing the print screens requires close attention because they involve hazardous chemicals. There’s extensive training for employees in those jobs in case of an emergency.

A special company comes in to remove and dispose of any extra chemicals that aren’t used.


Why join MVMC?


Palumbo says besides hearing about MVMC through AML Industries, the company’s interest in membership is because of the resources and training programs offered.


“We need people on the floor in our production areas. Every place has turnover. Covid was an adjustment period, but we’ve been growing since then,” she said.

Some people were laid off due to the pandemic, and others quit, but the company was fortunate to survive. An entry-level job at Roemer starts at $16.50. In production, there is a certification program where employees can earn higher wages for reaching certain milestones.


“There isn’t a huge population in this area, so it’s hard to find people willing and able to work. We have geographical challenges because it can be a long drive from other communities,” Palumbo said.


She adds that having contact with local manufacturers through MVMC is beneficial. Roemer has the chance to communicate with businesses going through the same things and establish relationships.


Palumbo recently had the chance to see the WorkAdvance program in action. She visited a bootcamp cohort and talked with participants about Roemer, which is a committed employer.


“They were definitely engaged and wanted to be there. That was encouraging to see,” Palumbo said.

Member Manufacturers

New member spotlight: Alcon Mechanical

Alcon Mechanical in Niles believes that creating partnerships is the best way to serve the community. The company hopes to continue building on that mission now that it’s joined Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Bob Summers, director of development at Alcon, wants people to know the company is familiar with manufacturing and is glad to already be serving businesses that are also members.

“We are equally focused on promoting MVMC and what the organization does – just as it recognizes Alcon. Ultimately, this leads to benefits for both parties. There’s more to Alcon than just mechanical work,” Summers said.

A history rooted in partnership

The company has been around for nearly 30 years and serves mainly commercial and industrial clients in northeast Ohio and into Pennsylvania. It’s licensed and certified to perform process piping, HVAC and hydronics, plumbing and food equipment service. There are 125 employees – which include two engineers and 12 people in the front office.

Alcon isn’t hiring right now, but owner and president, John Deraway, sees the challenge ahead of not having enough veteran, skilled workers.
“We’re facing issues like other companies. The aging, skilled workforce is retiring. We’re training the new people as fast as we can, but there’s going to be a gap that isn’t going to be filled. It takes time to make these employees,” Deraway said.

He got his start as a pipefitter, then worked his way up at the company for more than 20 years. Deraway bought Alcon in 2019 from George Poschner Jr. whose family also worked at there.

In the early days, Alcon was called Commercial Piping and partnered with Diamond Steel and Compco Industries before all the companies went on their own. About a decade later is when Commercial Piping changed its name to Alcon Mechanical.

On-site service

When it comes to fabricating products for customers, a lot of work is done at the job sites.

“Before we make anything, we have conversations with everyone on the ground to make sure they can handle it. There’s a lot of coordination, and our engineers do all the logistics,” Summers said.

He says the advantage of working on site means they can roll with changes and eliminate the possibility of extra costs to a project. Summers added that Alcon does quite a bit of welding when it comes to parts. Those are typically then shipped or transported to customers.

Big name projects

One of the most significant projects for Alcon, which is still in the works, is the Ultium Cells battery plant in Lordstown. Summers says the mechanical contract went to a Michigan company, but for Alcon, it was a case of being at the right place at the right time.

“I ended up getting ahold of the main coordinator, and through that, he offered us work. Although we didn’t do all the mechanical work, we were the first area mechanicals to be working there, besides the Michigan company,” Summers said.

The work is still going on at Ultium. Summers says many of the plans from a few years ago in terms of EV batteries changed, so the companies recently worked together to make adjustments.

Alcon is also planning to work on Ohio’s new Intel plant in Columbus. The company will be supplying piping systems for chemicals and the gas lines. The hope is to make most of the products at Alcon and then ship them to the site. The company has also done  significant projects for Howmet Aerospace and NLMK Steel.

Implementing health and safety initiatives

There are two new initiatives for the company when it comes to health and safety. The first is advanced leak detection technology that Alcon hopes to offer customers. Management is working with the company Fluke to learn the system and how it can be implemented for local businesses.

“We can walk into plants with a handheld device to see where leaks might be,” Summers said. “The results will show how much is being lost, return on investment, as well as how much it would cost to fix the problem.”

He stresses the most important aspect of this technology is knowing how it can affect a business from a health standpoint. Summers says even small amounts of certain gases or chemicals can be dangerous to people and the environment. Right now, Alcon is going out with engineers to learn how to detect issues and finding out what customers need most.

The company is also looking into a new-to-market air quality system. It uses plasma-style technology which creates ions that attach to contaminants. This makes it easier for them to be caught in a filter.

“Common sense tells you that if your work environment is better, people will be healthier, feel better and overall be more productive,” Summers said.

Keeping the service department steady

Looking to the future, the owner says the money is in the service department when it comes to a career.

“It’s going to get expensive, and it already is,” Deraway said. “You try to retain workers as best you can, but it’s just one of those things.”

He is fortunate to have stayed busy over the last decade but notes the continuous battle with a tight supply chain. Deraway is also always willing to jump in and work with the crew on a job.

“Sometimes it’s a break from what’s going on in the office. No one can say I don’t know how hard something is because I’ve done it,” he said.

He has some honest advice, too, when it comes to job seekers.

“Money shouldn’t be the first thing on the list when it comes to a job. If you can have a conversation with someone, shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and stay off your phone you will flourish compared to everyone else,” Deraway said.

Member Manufacturers

New member spotlight – Integrity Jobs

Creative thinking isn’t a foreign concept to engineers. They understand what it takes to “manufacture” things we use every day. John O’Neil, senior vice president at Integrity Technical Services (Integrity Jobs) in Akron, Ohio, knows this all too well.


Why join MVMC?


Integrity Jobs echoes MVMC’s mentality when it comes to the “stronger together” motto. O’Neil says it’s great to be able to recruit in the manufacturing world. He says doing things with integrity is something he takes seriously.


“Everyone is looking for good talent. I believe in a good reputation. I want people to know we did the best we could. I take it very personally when things don’t work out for everyone,” O’Neil said.


He first heard of MVMC through the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, and then was put in contact with senior project manager Alex Hertzer.


“Alex is the best person you could meet as the first impression of an organization. Very helpful in this process,” O’Neil said.


He was surprised to see the list of current members because he noticed he’s already done business with most of them. He’s looking forward to building those relationships and continuing to help fill open positions. Integrity Jobs deals with at least two thousand companies, and manufacturing is a big portion of the requests for skilled labor workers.


Back to the beginning


O’Neil started out as an engineer with Syntonic Technologies, which is no longer in business, as a field technician for the Ohio Turnpike Commission. He serviced all the electronic equipment, mainframes and even the Ohio State Highway Patrol communication systems.


Five years later, he ended up at Diebold solving problems with ATM machines. He closed that chapter in 1989, and then was contacted about working for a career staffing service.


O’Neil was a sales associate for a year before leaving to partner with two former bosses. Together, they formed a company called North Star Resources, which was outside Cleveland. He was vice president of sales.


“The owners were great people, and I worked closely with them. Unfortunately, they both passed away. One in 1995, and the other in 1996. They were always in the staff services field,” O’Neil said.


Rebuilding a business

Since most of the staff was from Akron, the company was relocated and changed names to Integrity Technical Services (Integrity Jobs). O’Neil’s wife, Judy, was named the CEO. She owns 100 percent of the company and takes care of all the financial business.


“In 1996, Integrity Jobs was born, and we’ve been growing from the bottom up ever since. Coming from engineering, it was easy to grow a network. The first few months of business brought in about $2 million, and then it was up to $6 million within a couple years,” O’Neil said.


During the Covid pandemic, the company took a hit like many small businesses. Several people were laid off, but it’s starting to pick up again.


“We are hiring in sales and recruiting to build things back up. We have a new sales rep for the Youngstown area now,” O’Neil said.

Putting people first


He stressed the staff is constantly reaching out to employers to see what jobs need filled. They’re also dedicated to helping job seekers. He says good candidates are scarce, and shortages are hard to overcome. It also takes some convincing to get employers to sometimes choose people who aren’t the perfect fit.


“We get new jobs coming in every day. Late in the year, the numbers increase. You never know what’s going to happen day-to-day. With turnover rates, there’s not enough time in the day to replace people,” O’Neil said.


Improving his clients’ lives is something he credits as making everything worthwhile.


“If I was in this for the money, I would’ve left a long time ago. It’s a rush when you put someone to work that hasn’t had an opportunity. People thank me for finding them a job they’ve been looking for a long time to find. I had the chance to help them, and that’s important,” O’Neil said.

Faces of Manufacturing

New member spotlight: TEMA Roofing Services


TEMA is woman-owned by CFO Margaret (Meg) Froelich. She is married to owner and president Thomas Froelich Junior. Before TEMA existed, Thomas worked at Roth Bros. and eventually became owner. His father-in-law, Bill Charles, led the development of the roofing division at Roth Bros. and was Thomas’s boss and mentor throughout his career. Charles serves as senior consultant at TEMA Roofing with nearly 60 years’ experience.

In 2011, Thomas and his partners sold Roth Bros. to Sodexo. After that, Thomas and Meg started building TEMA and have made an impression in the roofing world ever since.


So, why “TEMA”?


The letters stand for ‘Thomas Edward Margaret Ann’. As part of the logo, the five bars next to the name represent the couple’s five children. The sons, Justin, Adam, Scott and Tommy all carry the title of vice president at TEMA. Their daughter, Kate, is in the health and fitness world but organizes the wellness program at the company.


Right now, TEMA has at least 40 employees. The company serves northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania and does some business around the country. As expected, the spring and summer are busy seasons.


TEMA has a lot of contracts with area schools, so this is the time crews are out doing maintenance and repair for those buildings. The company most recently learned it will be doing work at the new recreation and wellness center at Warren G. Harding High School. It’s one of the biggest projects landed in the last five years.


Reputable roofing


Along with a good reputation and integrity, a presence in the market is what drives TEMA’s growth. Megan Wine, the business development executive, says customer service is a big part of the vision and mission for the company.


“Coming to a smaller, family company, it’s good they have heart and passion behind what they do. They genuinely care about their employees and the people they do business with,” Wine said.


She has been with the company for two years and was promoted to her position in January 2023. Her role includes being at community events, sales and promoting TEMA’s services for industrial and commercial roofing – including the asset management program.


“We work with companies that have anywhere from one building to multiple complexes or facilities,” Wine said.


TEMA offers multiple programs like leak repairs, restoration, preventative maintenance and new construction. There’s also an emergency response team available anytime for commercial customers.


Community connection

The family prides itself not only in building partnerships and good relationships but also in giving back to the community. This year, two of the sons attached big accomplishments to their names.

Justin Froelich was presented with the Business Advocate of the Year award through the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. He’s involved with the chamber, the Youngstown Rotary Club, Youngstown Business Incubator, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and the Salvation Army, to name a few. Scott Froelich was named president of The Builders Association where he’s been a member since 2017 and is active with the American Seniors Housing Association.


New member spotlight: Rust Belt Recruiting

What do you get when passion for the skilled trades is mixed with a focus on finding people to work in manufacturing? The answer is Rust Belt Recruiting in Rocky River, just outside Cleveland.

The company recently celebrated its five-year anniversary. The owner, Taylor Evans, recognized the need for manufacturing workers and recruiting for those jobs. Evans grew up in what’s known as the Rust Belt but is familiar with the negative connotation often associated with it. He decided to do what he could to shine a positive light on the region.

What sparked the interest in manufacturing

He grew up in Reading, Pa., a southeastern city which is the fourth largest in the state, and much like Ohio, big in manufacturing. That’s what got Evans so interested in the industry. Evans says his dad was someone who read every book he could, and among the list, was a book of all the best colleges in the country.

That’s where Ohio University comes in – along with Evans’ tie to the Buckeye State.

“This school was always on my dad’s radar, and the first time I set foot on campus, I was in love,” Evans said.

It all comes back to Cleveland

After graduating from OU, he took a sales job with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a while, then worked for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. In 2013, Evans left for the Texas Sports Commission, in Austin, but left his heart in Cleveland.

“Four months before I left town, I met my now wife, who was a single mom at the time, and we dated at a distance for two years,” Evans said.

He joked about his coworkers teasing him because he spent more time talking about Cleveland than Austin – which he was being paid to promote! Evans returned to the Cleveland area in 2015 and has been here ever since.

Making connections that count

The general landscape is changing for manufacturing, and Rust Belt Recruiting wants a hand in renewing the region, including the Mahoning Valley. Digital marketing coordinator Annie Maglicic says the company wants to connect manufacturers to their most essential resource – a growing workforce.

“We’re passionate about skilled trades and how valuable careers are in those fields. We make sure candidates are getting placed and companies are getting quality people working for them. It’s all about giving people the tools they need and leaving them in a better place,” Maglicic said.

Right now, Rust Belt Recruiting has 12 employees and mainly does business in the Midwest. There are also some clients in the southeast. Maglicic says recruiters focus on staffing full-time jobs and not temporary ones. The idea is to get more people in long-term positions.

“The company started with hiring mostly for production roles in manufacturing, but we also get some requests for more senior roles like engineers,” Maglicic said.

She says sometimes recruiters have in-person meetings with companies to get a better handle on what’s needed. The owner is also hands-on in creating relationships with those looking to do business with Rust Belt Recruiting.

The company is also challenging the familiar narrative that people don’t want to work. Maglicic says it’s not true, and people do want jobs.

“In a way, we’re helping to restructure businesses to reach the modern workforce. In turn, we’re helping jobseekers keep a broad focus but maybe narrowing down what they excel at, so they find the best fit,” Maglicic said.

Why join MVMC?

With sights set on growth, and manufacturing a priority, it makes sense for Rust Belt Recruiting to become a member of the MVMC. Evans hopes to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the industry. Although the company isn’t a typical member, he wants to build connections with businesses and employees to assist them with their needs.

“I saw an opportunity to build a premium recruiting agency focused on one of our country’s greatest needs – the industrial workforce. We focus our time and effort on recruiting workers motivated to impact the companies they work for and support companies that view employees as an asset and treat them as such,” Evans said.


Evolving Job Quality and the Future Workforce

Any business or organization paying attention to employees and the health of an operation should be discussing job quality. What’s good for one company might not work for another. It’s a task that continues to change along with the workforce.


On March 16, the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition hosted a job quality roundtable with at least 45 participants featuring Rebecca Kusner. She’s a workforce development connector, strategist, and advocate in Northeast Ohio. She founded R4 Workforce, which is a consulting firm just outside Cleveland, Ohio. Kusner presented in the area about two years ago, and the MVMC felt it was important to bring her back for updated research and thoughts on the topic.


Evolving definition of job quality


Kusner started the presentation by asking participants what job quality meant to them. Answers included high value, high pay, safety (both physical and mental), work-life balance, team environment and opportunity for learning. She was pleased to hear safety mentioned because she feels it can often be overlooked.


She points out there’s no single definition or standard that works for everyone, but it must be about the overall framework for job quality. She used an entry-level job as an example. It might have a lower pay standard, but that doesn’t make the position a “bad” starting point. It’s about making each job the best it can be for employees.


“I’m becoming less enamored with the word ‘job quality’ for two reasons: One, because it’s so variable. Two, because it makes it just about the job when it’s about team, culture and other things. You’re not going to make a place better by fixing one job,” Kusner said. “I’m trying to figure out what is the right word. You’ll hear about job design, workplace strategies, and job quality is easy at this point because that’s what people have been hearing about,” she added.


Kusner also feels it has a negative connotation, or that it reflects something bad, when that’s not always the case.


“It’s just the term given to this whole cluster of things that influences an individual’s connection to work,” Kusner said.

The future of work is now


Kusner notes the increasing economic polarization, more virtual interaction and automation in the workforce. She says businesses and organizations need to have programs, systems, interventions, conversations and an ecosystem that responds to the future in the workplace.


She believes companies need to react in new ways to the issues present in the field. She acknowledges that in some cases the challenge is money coming from the government and philanthropic programs that have their own ideas of how things need to be done.


“Job quality work fits in the future of workforce development; how we think about the intersection of people and work, and what we do about it. We can choose how to support companies and workers,” Kusner said.


Facing disparities and DEI


Kusner showcased another changing factor in the Mahoning Valley when it comes to jobs. She said there’s been more skills-based hiring going on, as well as more worker voice and worker power movements happening.


“There’s the notion of equity and inclusion and seeing disparities in the workforce, access to opportunity and how we address equity and inclusion. It’s certainly needing to be part of this emerging workforce,” Kusner said.


She says when employers ask to see what potential hires can do, then focus on those competencies, it automatically helps with DEI.


Navigating a multigenerational workforce


Many companies have a multigenerational workforce, and job quality can mean something different to each one.


“It’s something I’ve seen highlighted a great deal in conversations with younger workers. They will show up and work, but they need to be valued and appreciated for everything they are and not just their work product,” Kusner said.


Vallourec North America Talent Management Director Chris Allen sees the dynamic talking to workers at the Youngstown plant.


“The needs are different from generation to generation. Older generations do the job and don’t have many questions. Others need to have more feeling put into the job and be told they’re doing well,” Allen said.


Kusner emphasizes Allen’s effort to talk with employees and how important it is for management to know the issues going on and how dynamics change. She feels this plays a major role in having a quality workplace.


Improvement tools


Kusner believes companies want to make progress when it comes to job quality. She also recognizes, for some, it’s no easy task.


“There are good companies out there that don’t have the knowledge, resources or support to do all of this. I don’t want this to seem like they’re doing a lousy job,” Kusner said.


She recommends online assessment tools to get the ball rolling. Talent Rewire’s opportunity navigator helps employers understand where they excel and where change is necessary to create a more inclusive workplace. Then, results are sent with resources to take tangible actions for improvement.


“It’s all about starting somewhere, and online assessments are practical, actionable and easy,” Kusner said.


Community Partnership

Manufacturing Yields Friendly Competition

With just a few steps inside the America Makes building in downtown Youngstown, it’s easy to justify why a partnership with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition makes sense. There’s a modern manufacturing atmosphere, and both organizations are committed to various adult and youth outreach efforts.


The collaboration started more than year ago, and recently, the MVMC had the chance to be involved with students in the Additive Edge program through America Makes. MVMC senior project manager Alex Hertzer did presentations for 8th graders from Poland Middle School, as well as freshmen and sophomores from Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and Valley STEM + ME2 Academy about opportunities in manufacturing careers.


He talked to students about jobs right after high school or using manufacturing to gain experience for a future career. Hertzer explained positions like welding, machining and robotics and how they range from entry-level, supervisor and engineering. He said some of the students were hearing about the positions for the first time and were amazed at how easy it is to get into a manufacturing career.


“The thing I tried to stress was that both skilled trades and college are great career pathways. I think it’s important for students to understand they can have the best of both worlds,” Hertzer said.


Before the presentation, students toured America Makes to get a firsthand look at opportunities in additive manufacturing. They learned about various projects and what they are used for in several industries.


Here’s the pitch
The Additive Edge is an entrepreneurship program students take part in for several weeks. It focuses on engaging them with education and career pathways in the advanced manufacturing sector. They work in teams to identify a real-world problem, develop a 3D printing-based solution, build a business model, and then pitch the idea to a panel of judges.


MVMC project manager Allison Engstrom was one of the judges for pitch day in early March. Freshmen and sophomores from two science classes presented their creations for the program.

She was impressed by a team that came up with an idea that affects almost everyone these days.


“My favorite was a group of young men whose product was a 3D printed phone case that would utilize solar panels to charge the phone,” Engstrom said.

Schools participating in the Additive Edge program can use it in a variety of ways. They can choose a daily activity for several weeks, once a week for a semester, or a bootcamp-style course that’s completed in one week. Teachers also take a training with an America Makes team member before the school’s program begins. Once completed, America Makes attends the students’ final pitch day.


Part of the bigger picture
Additive Edge is only part of what America Makes offers when it comes to education and training for various sectors across the country. Education and Workforce Development Director Josh Cramer says the “K-through-Grey” approach engages all talent nationwide for advanced manufacturing and STEM.


“That means reaching elementary, community colleges, post-secondary schools, underutilized talent and all the way to the Department of Defense,” Cramer said.


He stresses it’s about finding that pathway for a talent stream and making sure people know they can step in to learn at any time.



“This is where the collaboration with the MVMC comes in to ensure we’re here together to increase awareness and pathways to create linkage to local industries,” Cramer said.



He says there will be a $1 million facility going in at the Eastern Gateway Community College for added innovation. Work is expected this summer with the grand opening set for late fall. Cramer says the focus is about building in a curriculum. There is also an additive lab planned for OH WOW! Children’s Center for Science and Technology.


Cramer says there’s a constant need for training programs, apprenticeship frameworks, youth outreach supports and teacher education in the K-through-12 space.



“As technology advances, we’re going to have a need to upscale manufacturers and workforce,” Cramer said. “We’re all focused on wanting to make the Mahoning Valley a place to live, work and be successful.”

Faces of Manufacturing Uncategorized

New member spotlight: AML Industries

MVMC welcomes Advanced Metalforming Lubricants (AML) Industries, located on Pine Avenue Southeast in Warren – just across the tracks from the Municipal Building.


AML Industries was founded in 1989 and is owned by Dave Gurska, the president of the company. It’s been in the same location since it started with just three or four employees and has since grown to 31. The company specializes in quality lubricants and coatings for metalformers throughout the world.


Forged with integrity


Matt Natale is vice president at AML. He says the company sells to businesses who make parts for the auto industry, aerospace, military, oil and gas industry, as well as agricultural equipment.


“Lubricants would be used for crank shafts, gears, anything that needs structural integrity,” Natale said. “Anywhere there is a lot of pressure, too, you need a forged part.”


He says forging is basically putting a solid piece of metal between two dyes and pressing it to strengthen, or forge, the part with the lubricant.


“There are about 7 or 8 families of lubricants that AML supplies, which are all specific to different parts and industries,” Natale said.


Glenn “LG” McClellan III, operations manager at AML, likes to refer to the company’s product as “industrial cooking spray.” He’s been at the plant for 12 years and got the nickname “LG” or “Little Glenn” since he’s named after his father. McClellan oversees safety and compliance, personnel, production, scheduling, and anything to do with operations.

Refocused on workforce building


Immediately, Natale says the company needs five operators. The position requires running heavy equipment, machines and material processes.


“We’re projected to need 10 people by the end of 2023,” Natale said.


He says it’s been difficult finding help post-Covid.


“We’re willing to hire prospects with a non-violent, felony record. We’re big into giving people second chances, and we try to understand things happen,” Natale said.


AML was able to stay open in 2020 but couldn’t avoid layoffs due to business being almost zero.


“We were able to secure money through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loan), and without that, we most definitely would’ve had to close, or at least temporarily,” Natale said.


The company was considered essential during the pandemic, but McClelland says when things started getting back to normal, AML had to find new hires because almost none of the laid off employees came back. He says business is booming now, but more staff is needed to support the work.


Eyes on efficiency



Natale says the slowdown was eye-opening for building efficiency. The company has been able to improve processes for equipment and management of workflow.


McClellan mentioned there are three ongoing projects being paid for by the Ohio Safety Intervention Grant, which is through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. These projects will eliminate risk to workers and improve efficiency of jobs. About a year ago, the company was also able to put in a new chemistry lab.



AML is family


A big takeaway Natale and McClellan want potential employees to know about AML Industries is that it’s a family atmosphere.


“You’re not just a number here. Anyone can talk to management about anything, or if a problem is going on, we’ll have that connection with them,” Natale said. “Sometimes we have even floated people money for groceries or something like that.”


Management is also not afraid of being in the trenches. Natale and McClellan say they have both been in the plant alongside workers at some point. It’s about showing appreciation for employees and what they do.



“We’ve even ordered food trucks to come sometimes as a treat for everyone,” said McClellan.


Why join MVMC?



Finding workers is a priority, and McClellan says the company learned about the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition at a recent job fair. A member was walking around with information, and he says it looked like there was a lot of recognition among vendors.


“It seemed like the group had a lot of impact, so I brought the information back to Matt, and we just decided from there it would be a good idea,” said McClellan.


He also sees the benefits of the MVMC’s WorkAdvance program. McClellan was able to sit down recently with several boot camp participants and tell them about AML Industries. Some of them are former justice involved citizens.


“They all had great questions, and I think they have a leg up over staffing services,” said McClellan. “What I’m mostly seeing from other job services, I’ll make the initial contact, but either people don’t come for the interview, or they don’t reply to my message about our interest in them.”


He says it seems the prospects coming through WorkAdvance are intentional about being job ready. The same group also toured AML, and a couple even expressed interest in interviewing for a job.


McClellan also says he’s interested in the MVMC-sponsored LEAN manufacturing course. AML is excited about training access for employees, youth outreach initiatives, as well as getting the company’s name out there.


“We saw some customers in larger areas joining similar coalitions to help get workers. We’re a small business, so sometimes we’re competing with bigger names, so being part of MVMC might help with this,” Natale said.


Interested in joining MVMC yourself? Contact Alex Hertzer at

Faces of Manufacturing Uncategorized

Roundtable Carves Pathway to Boost Women in Manufacturing

While women make up 51% of the U.S. population, they represent only 27% of the manufacturing workforce in Ohio, according to Hard Hatted Women Ohio.


The Manufacturing Institute’s “35×30” national campaign is pushing to get representation of women in the industry to 35% by 2030. Right now, it’s about 30%. HHW Ohio says here in the Mahoning Valley, the number shrinks to 23%. That means closing a 12% gap.


“We have seven short years to exceed that goal because once we set a target, usually we aim a little higher,” said Julie Michael Smith, program director at the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.


The plan to make that goal possible was the focus at the Women in Manufacturing Roundtable on February 16 at Vallourec in Youngstown. Kaci Roach, executive director of HHW Ohio, was the guest speaker. More than two dozen others were part of the conversation, including the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, as well as the Vallourec North America Talent Management Director Chris Allen, and the Women@Vallourec.

Since 1979, HHW Ohio has been dedicated to helping women grow and succeed in high demand, high wage jobs and bring awareness to career options they might not otherwise consider.


“There’s really great research from the Manufacturing Institute that shows that women are interested are getting into and moving up in these careers,” said Roach.


She says recruitment and retention are the ways to address low numbers, and you achieve that through awareness, belonging and professional advancement.


Engaging early builds awareness
Roach says engagement with community-based organizations gives more trusted voices to your effort and builds strong relationships.


“Research shows girls as young as 10 begin to view manufacturing and other hands-on professions as gender based, or ‘for the boys.’ This perception continues to grow as women select their educational and career pathways creating a knowledge deficit of what other opportunities exist in manufacturing and outdated models of manufacturing,” Roach said.


She says a great action to take is engaging with K-12 programs and the Girl Scouts. She says there are badges dedicated to career exploration and working hands-on with STEM.


“Disrupt the narrative at a young age. Empower women in your community to become role models,” Roach said.


She encourages employees to be community leaders by participating in career fairs, classroom visits and mentorship.


“It shows yes, women are here, and we belong in manufacturing,” Roach said.


Women need to feel sense of belonging
According to the Harvard Business Review, a high sense of belonging is linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk and 75% reduction of sick days. Roach says groups like Women@Vallourec is a great benefit in the workplace, and it helps to have flex scheduling, or group scheduling, so employees can have family balance.


“Essentially there are groups or pods of employees who are responsible for covering each other’s space, so they work as a collective unit to cover times and shifts,” Roach said.


Roach also believes companies need strong family leave policies, nursing facilities, and women need to feel their concerns are being addressed.


Prioritizing professional advancement
HHW Ohio says 44% of Mahoning Valley households have a single parent. Roach says some women run into what’s called the “benefits cliff.” This means they have a lower paying job, receive some type of government assistance, but can’t get a higher paying job without losing the assistance needed to survive.


Roach says this is where companies can offer child care subsidies to offset costs, or employees can do wrap-around support while women work into more sustainable employment.


HHW Ohio has also developed a program called WISE Pathways. It brings together community-based organizations, education/training providers and businesses to create a supportive pathway for women in male-dominated jobs.


The two primary elements are career exploration and coaching by industry and role model speakers.  Roach says women need to be encouraged to share their stories and empower others.


Local WISE Pathways connection
WISE Pathways is partnering with Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown and MVMC to run a program this summer. Roach says the idea is for each woman who participates to have a personal connection at the end.


“Schedule mock interviews that can turn into real interviews, if the employer is willing, so they’re able to network with hiring companies as direct result of WISE Pathways,” Roach said.


About Women@Vallourec
Women@Vallourec started at the corporate level, but also organizes at the Youngstown plant. Members meet twice a month to discuss any issues and create tangible actions to increase the representation of women.


Abigail Bonavides, the corporate leader of Women@Vallourec, was invited to the roundtable to talk about the program and what it means for the company. She has more than seven years of experience in human resources and focuses on the training and development pipeline to increase the number of women at the company to 25%.


The four pillars of the program are recruitment, retention, education and career advancement. The goal is to make sure women have what they need in the workplace such as locker rooms, uniforms, family leave policies, as well as making sure concerns are being addressed.


Bonavides was also joined by Katia Rogaume, the sourcing director for Vallourec in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. She is responsible for making sure women have a safe space to share their experiences and getting problems solved in a timely manner.