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Making manufacturing cool again

  • Jacob Gregory hangs up a bezel to cool Monday at Graphicast in Jaffrey. STAFF PHOTO BY TONY MARQUIS



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 09, 2017

Jacob Gregory didn’t know what he wanted to do for a living. But he knew he wanted to go to college. And he knew he didn’t want to have any debt.

“I had no intention of taking out loans for college. None,” said Gregory, 21, of Antrim. “You can’t guarantee a good-paying job out of college.”

So Gregory turned his high school internship at Graphicast in Jaffrey into a full-time job and he takes part-time classes toward an online degree in mathematics at Thomas Edison State College.

Gregory is a casting machine operator, turning metal into different objects using a custom-made mold and tremendous amounts of heat. On Monday, Gregory was working on a bezel for an electronics display.

“I personally enjoy working with my hands,” Gregory said.

Gregory was one of Graphicast’s first interns through a program at ConVal High School, where Gregory graduated from in 2014. He calls Graphicast “an excellent place to be.”

Val Zanchuk, president of Graphicast, says it takes time to find young people interested in giving manufacturing jobs a try. It takes a lot of outreach to find new employees, says Zanchuk, who is the chair of the board of directors at the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which created a manufacturing month (in October) to spread awareness of the industry and its jobs.

The organization also started a workforce development team, part of the organization’s effort to get companies involved with local school districts.

“You have to go out, businesses need to be more engaged,” Zanchuk said. “And people need to know that manufacturing is a great career.”

Throughout the month, manufacturing companies will open their doors to students. Zanchuk is giving tours of his facility and is hosting an event where he speaks to the parents of students who went on the tour.

Zanchuk said it’s “critical” to inform the parents. 

“All they read about is all the jobs being lost -- that’s what makes the headlines, but that’s not the whole story,” Zanchuk said.

Success stories

Dave Dewitt wants to make manufacturing cool again.

The semi-retired engineer and founder (and former owner) of a small Peterborough manufacturing company, started a website called Manufacturingstories.com. On it, he shares local and national tales of manufacturers doing different things -- “success stories” he calls them.

“I just felt that manufacturing had been a big part of my life since I was a kid,” said Dewitt. “And I just kind of wanted to promote it.”

Dewitt’s father ran a toy manufacturing company called Nassau Products in Troy, New York. Dewitt would accompany his father to work and even work the line some days.

“It was part of our family,” Dewitt said.

Dewitt founded Time Frame, which made die-cut stickers and labels for the trophy industry. In 2012, he sold the business and went to work on Manufacturingstories.com. Now, Dewitt posts stories with headlines such as “Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fastest Pace in 13 Years” and “Heart and Sole: A Case for American Manufacturing.”

“The perception of manufacturing has not been good, because manufacturing has moved overseas, and so now, I think, with some of the greater emphasis, maybe that perception will change,” Dewitt said. “I just think they’re great career options for young people.”