Faces of Manufacturing

New member spotlight: International Steel & Counterweights

Community outreach and giving second chances are two big reasons why International Steel & Counterweights joined Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. The Youngstown company continues to battle a revolving door of employees – a familiar story in the manufacturing world.

International Steel & Counterweights has been at the North West Avenue location since its founding about 14 years ago. The company has grown to around 120 employees – fully occupying an historic and century-old industrial complex.

ISC is owned by AMG Resources Corporation, of Pittsburgh. The company is primarily a recycled metals – with ISC being the only manufacturing facility it has.

“While we are a global organization, we’re a different piece of the puzzle for them, turning metal products into finished goods,” said Larry Wiley, operations manager at International Steel & Counterweights.

Where counterweights are used

ISC makes counterweights for applications from around the world.

“Ballast and counterweights are used in every conceivable application where something needs to be pushed, pulled, lifted or anchored,” Wiley said.

The president of ISC has been in the counterweight business for more than 45 years. He started off renting a small part of the current location, but as the company grew, he ended up taking over the whole building.

ISC primarily serves customers in the counterweight industry, but the company also serves the market as a machine shop, metal service center and full-service scrap yard. ISC prides itself on being as environmentally friendly as possible.

“One of the best things about steel is that it’s the most recyclable product in the world. Nothing is wasted. We are fortunate that we have developed customers that can use steel in its every form. We have a home for every part of steel, from the beginning of its life to the end of its life, where ultimately, it’s remelted and starts life again,” Wiley said.

“In a nutshell, we’re a very large production and fabrication shop,” Wiley said.

Customers are spread throughout the United States, North America and even some overseas.

“Our business model allows us to bring savings and value to just about every corner of the world,” Wiley said.

Kristin Wheatley, the senior HR business partner at ISC, says the company is always getting creative meeting customer demands and creating products to offer customers.

“There isn’t one format for anything here. This makes our work interesting and gives us room to keep developing new offerings to the market,” Wheatley said.

The MVMC impact

As far as building a workforce, ISC wants to help people who are restarting their lives and finding a new career. The company attended the MVMC-hosted Ohio to Work impact breakfast in January, and management was on board from there.

“When we heard about WorkAdvance, that was it for us. The fundamentals are being taught in those bootcamps. That’s our biggest struggle. Candidates need to know things like basic math skills and being comfortable in a manufacturing facility,” Wheatley said.

She stresses the company needs machine operators, but the challenge is getting employees to show up every day and knowing how to behave in the workplace.

“For instance, not having someone get mad and complain because we told them to put their phone away. It’s a safety issue, and the person is also not working,” Wheatley said.

ISC needs people from all experience levels that are willing to learn, develop and grow with the company.

“Make the commitment before day one. If someone shows up on the most basic level, we will notice that. We will move people to a better job with more opportunity as rapidly as possible, but they have to make that commitment,” Wiley said.

Forward-thinking mindset

Patience is another piece of advice for job seekers.

“You’ll be in a busy, fast-paced facility. Give it time to feel comfortable and progress. People get intimidated and give up. We’ll train on every level,” Wheatley said.

The company is also putting in some advanced manufacturing and automation tools at the plant, but they’re not replacing jobs. Workers are still needed to set up and run all facets of production and manufacturing. The goal is to help cut down on physical labor and speed up the time getting products to market.

Wheatley says the days of college being the only option for a good career are ending.

“It’s about changing the mindset. Buildings are going up. Companies are opening. We just need the workers to come in,” she said.

She added many supervisors at the plant had entry-level positions before working their way up. The president of the company even started out sweeping floors. Management is eager to see how being part of MVMC will help ISC’s workforce.

“It’s an adventure for us, and we’re going to learn as much as we can in this beneficial partnership,” Wiley said.

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.

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.

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.




Faces of Manufacturing Uncategorized

Manufacturing workforce looks to hire more women

The Manufacturing Institute says women today account for about 30% of workers in the field. There is a remaining perception about the industry that continues to limit women in manufacturing. It’s often seen as a dark, dirty, and dangerous environment just for men. For most manufacturing facilities, that picture is far from reality.


According to The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, having more women in manufacturing is beneficial to workplace health. Their recent reports show women drive the culture, which can impact worker satisfaction. The OMA says, on average, newly hired women are more likely to have some STEM education, and employers with a higher percentage of women in leadership roles also saw increased profits.

Grace Stigliano (left) of Brilex and Leslie Phillips (right) of Brainard Rivet
are among the many women in manufacturing leadership positions in the
Mahoning Valley.


The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition fully supports a national initiative from the Manufacturing Institute to get more women in manufacturing roles. The “35×30” campaign aims to increase representation in the field to 35% by 2030. That would add 500,000 women to the workforce. The MVMC is taking active steps to get involved.


Several women in the MVMC that work in the industry have seen career success. Here is what they have to say:


Trudy Cheney, Global Human Resources Director, Xaloy
“Having worked in manufacturing for close to 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with women who are highly successful in every discipline from accounting to engineering to sales. Their success is tied directly to their preparation for the roles they’ve held by being subject matter experts who are truly invested in delivering value to their team, their company, and their industry.”


Ashley Morrow, Payroll Manager/HR Manager, Livi Steel, Inc.
“To be successful in manufacturing you need to be bold enough to believe in yourself, you need to be willing to listen to your managers / supervisors, collaborate with your co-workers, and encourage others in your field to do the same.”


Emily Young, EWD Coordinator, (NCDMM) National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining
“As a new woman in the industry, as well as a young professional, it is important to find yourself two mentors – one with a perspective much different than your own, and one who may think and support you in a way that is most similar to your point of view. As a woman in industry, I have found the brightest moments through stepping up or raising my hand to participate in opportunities to learn more,
network, and build community.”


Grace Stigliano, HR Recruiter/Coordinator, Brilex Industries
“If I had to offer up words of encouragement for women entering the industry, I would say to be courageous, be brave, and simply be yourself. Know that you offer insight to bring to the table and that you deserve to be there!”


Faces of Manufacturing

Ellwood Aluminum employee touts WorkAdvance for life-altering career change in manufacturing

To most people watching, navigating a larger-than-life Caterpillar wheel loader would be intimidating.


Add trails just wide enough for the machine and towering piles of aluminum, it would seem a nearly impossible task.


Bernard Jones Jr. makes driving the wheel loader look easy.


It’s one of his responsibilities he looks forward to performing at Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard.


The company produces large-diameter aluminum ingot and billet, rectangular slab and cast plates.

Taking care of the “work family”

When Jones gets out of the wheel loader and stands near the piled scrap, everything looks scaled to match him.


Standing at around 6’8” tall, his enthusiasm for work matches his stature.

Bernard Jones stands with equipment.
Bernard Jones Jr. learned to operate a wheel loader while working at Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard. For most people, working the wheel loader is intimidating. Jones took the responsibility and embraced it.

The furnace operator began working at Ellwood in March 2022.


He learned the basics of the manufacturing industry through WorkAdvance after being recruited through the National Center for Urban Solutions.


WorkAdvance prepares inexperienced individuals for entry level positions in advanced manufacturing; positions with MVMC member manufacturers that include career growth opportunities. NCUS is a community grassroots recruiting partner of MVMC.


“Going through the training to work at Ellwood, it was very helpful,” Jones said, adding he was transitioning from another job.


At Ellwood, everyone has to be responsible and it’s taught in the training, he said.


Safety is among the largest responsibilities stressed, Jones said.


“When you’re responsible for others along with yourself, that makes it along the lines of a family rather than just an employee.”


Training is an important component of working at Ellwood.


“With the type of work we’re dealing with, we have to have that extensive training,” said Hank Stull, HR manager.

Don’t think twice about WorkAdvance

Jones, Stull and Steve Page, general manager at Ellwood, have advice for anyone thinking about completing the WorkAdvance program.


In two words: Do it.


“The more education you have coming into this field itself, the better. Listen to what you’re learning,” Jones said. “Any type of work advancement lets you be better than you were before.”

Bernard Jones Jr. stands in front of scrap aluminum.
Enrolling in WorkAdvance has provided Bernard Jones Jr. an opportunity to learn the basics of manufacturing.


Folks interested should be willing to learn, ready to work, Stull added.


WorkAdvance helps people “understand what’s needed to succeed in manufacturing,” said Page.


“It’s a great way to get hands-on experience but also decide which aspect of the industry – or if at all – is the right fit,” Page added.


Jones offered a bit more guidance: “Just be patient.”


When Jones isn’t working as a furnace operator, he’s a motivational speaker and works on a nonprofit he’s putting together: Rehabilitation to Revitalization.


Its focus is to bring individuals who were incarcerated to get together and help clean Youngstown.


From his nonprofit to his work at Ellwood, a common theme for Jones is sharing knowledge.


“You have to have a passion for what you’re doing and respect the energy being passed on,” sharing what you’ve learned with those around you, Jones said.

Faces of Manufacturing

Livi Steel electrical engineer encourages young people to find work they enjoy doing

To anyone not familiar with manufacturing, David Gomory’s desk can be overwhelming.

Surrounded by countless binders, books and drawings on shelving, desks and the walls, the Livi Steel engineer has a method for where everything is located.

Livi Steel is a member manufacturer of MVMC.

It’s all in a directional flow, each binder organized by year, spanning his career.

Starting at the beginning

Gomory went to Penn State University and Youngstown State University, two years each, earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Following college, Gomory started out in a nuclear power plant, doing inspections during the construction phase.

Had he continued with the career, he would have had to travel around the country.

David Gomory has built a career with Livi Steel as a problem-solving engineer.

“That lifestyle didn’t appeal to me,” Gomory said.

That’s when he decided to look into the manufacturing industry.

Taking the idea from his own father, Gomory started with Livi Steel about 30 years ago as a detailer.

“The basic aspect is when erectors in the field receive a delivery of steel beams, they look at the diagrams on how to assemble them,” Gomory said.

Then, if there are problems or the contractor has a question, “that’s when they call me,” he said.

There’s a lot of attention to detail that goes into each diagram. Once they are completed, the work is looked over by a “checker.”

After about five years in the industry, Gomory started doing checking, eventually leading to problem-solving out in the field.

Building resources

Looking at his workspace, Gomory knows where each document is, and how it’s precisely organized.

“After you’ve been at this a while, you get to a point there’s a library,” he said, laughing.

That library includes codes and zoning information, parts of the job he enjoys learning and knowing.

He encourages anyone to find work they like doing.

“You can have a first job you don’t like and that’s okay but find something you enjoy doing because otherwise you’ll be miserable,” Gomory said.

Looking back at his career, he said he feels fulfilled.

“I really like it. I can actually say I enjoy what I did.”

Faces of Manufacturing

Gasser Chair welder wishes Happy Mother’s Day to his boss

Imagine having your mom as a boss.

That’s the case for Peter Levitski, a welder at MVMC member manufacturer Gasser Chair Company in Youngstown.

Mother Dolores is welding group leader, and together they make up that department.

“We get along very well. We think a lot alike,” Dolores said.

The two welders at Gasser Chair Company in Youngstown are Peter Levitski, right, and mother Dolores. They work next to each other and both say they enjoy it.

Sparks fly with new job

Since 2007, Dolores has been with Gasser Chair as a welder.

“I’ve always been fascinated by welding,” she said.

After her husband died, Dolores was raising three children on a minimum wage job.

She decided to learn to weld, which is what Peter’s dad did for a living.

“I just absolutely love it,” Dolores said, adding she enjoys building things.

Prior to joining Gasser, Dolores didn’t realize the amount of time that goes into making the best seat possible.

“I never knew what it took to build a chair. It’s the height, how it sits, the size to slot machine or table. Once I see what I’ve done it makes me proud.”

Work and actual family

Dolores also loves where she works, because the company puts family first.

“It feels good to get up in the morning and come be a part of that,” she said.

Dolores taught Peter the basics of welding before he was 10 years old.

“She actually just handed me down her original welder,” he said.

Working with his mom isn’t difficult because Peter said he knows what’s expected of him.

“I’m lucky enough to work with my mom. Our communication is awesome. I don’t like to disappoint her, so I make sure to do the best I can.”

They work so well together, that even though Dolores is right-handed and Peter’s a lefty, they have learned to weld with both hands and put each other’s stations back together when they “borrow” each other’s space.

When they aren’t working at Gasser, Dolores builds hot rods, does custom welding and spends time with her grandchildren.

Pete has three kids who keep him busy, along with a roofing business where he’s Dolores’ boss.

Faces of Manufacturing

In Demands Job Week Profile: Tool and die maker molds future starting with apprenticeship

While he was already inching toward a college degree and working full time, Joe Zagorec changed courses and took a chance.

It was 1995 when he decided to leave his studies at Youngstown State University and go into a skilled trades apprenticeship.

“It’s kind of a big career change, but the opportunity presented itself and I took advantage of it,” Zagorec said.

He’s now a tool and die maker at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, where he’s been since 2016.

Previously, he was at Delphi Electric for 25 years working on molds and progressive dies after going through their tool and die apprenticeship.

Tool and die maker stands at grinder.
Joe Zagorec is a tool and die maker at ClarkDietrich in Vienna. He began his career in the mid-1990s with a four-year apprenticeship.

Making the switch

He realized he enjoyed the atmosphere of the classroom-machine shop setup.

The apprenticeship was two years in the classroom then two years in the plants applying what he learned while working under a journeyman’s mentorship.

“It’s different” learning in a traditional college setting and working, compared to applying lessons hands-on, Zagorec said.

Completing an in-house apprenticeship allows for the employer to “mold” the training employee to learn different roles within the company, Zagorec said.

New beginnings

Before joining ClarkDietrich, Zagorec didn’t work with rotary dies.

Instead, he worked on progressive dies, running 1,500 strokes a minute.

Learning the new skill wasn’t difficult, he said.

“The concept is the same as far as die work.”

During his apprenticeship, Zagorec learned mostly conventional, he said.

As his career has evolved, he’s gotten involved with wires and sinkers, which are more CNC aspects.

Looking at the numbers

The average hourly wage for a tool and die maker is $27, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Annually, that’s about $56,200.

Closer to home, the average hourly rate is $21, or $43,700 annually.

To earn credentials in tool and die making, courses can be taken at Trumbull County Technical Center, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, and Eastern Gateway Community College.

A career path for everyone

Becoming a tool and die maker has provided a stable life for Zagorec and his family.

“It’s been an excellent career choice,” he said, noting he was able to pay his daughter’s college tuition to become a teacher.

For high school students, “manufacturing is an excellent opportunity” to research.

Even students with straight-As and those who are National Honor Society members should consider the skilled trades if they like working with their hands and minds, Zagorec said.

“I never would have pictured myself” in manufacturing “because no one ever pushed it in high school.”

That’s why talking with students about apprenticeships is crucial, Zagorec said.

“There are so many opportunities for trades… that are great, stable careers.”

For information on funding apprenticeships or upskilling employees, visit TechCred and WorkAdvance.