Busche gives students look at new face of manufacturing

October 5th, 2013

News Coverage:

Busche gives students look at new face of manufacturing

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:16 am, Sat Oct 5, 2013.

By Matt Getts

ALBION — It’s not your grandfather’s manufacturing. Your father probably wouldn’t recognize it, either.

For many companies, gone are the days of heavy lifting and physically demanding labor. Instead, workers are being asked more and more to work with their brains, not their brawn.

“You still have to work hard, but knowledge-based work is more prevalent than physical labor work,” said Rick Sherck, Noble County Economic Development Corp.’s executive director.

Getting the word out concerning the new face of manufacturing — and the career opportunities it presents — was the focus of Manufacturing Day 2013, held Friday at Busche Enterprises in Albion. Busche, a company with a projected $125 million in revenue this year, draws workers from throughout northeastern Indiana.

“We’ve got a lot of industries trying to figure out how they can tell the story of manufacturing,” Sherck said.

A class of Central Noble High School vocational students, all part of the Conexus vocational program, got a plant tour and video presentation of what Busche does in its facilities in Alabama and Indiana.

Busche general manager James Stewart addressed the group with a vested interest. He wasn’t just looking to give a promo for the company, he was looking for people to add to his work force … people like Ryan Cureton.

Cureton started working part-time while a senior at Central Noble High School in November 2012. The day after graduation, June 4, he started working for the company full-time. Recognized for his job performance and his potential, Cureton was quickly promoted, a move that caught him by surprise, he said.

Before long, Cureton was promoted again. The young man said he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Cureton said. “I didn’t know this could happen.”

“He is on a career track I wish I would have had,” Stewart said, “and he never went to college.”

Getting the word out that Cureton’s story can happen, and isn’t that uncommon, is the point behind Manufacturing Day, Stewart said.

Cureton started work at Busche as a manufacturing novice.

“”I just thought this was going to be a summer job,” he said. “I’ve learned so much. I really didn’t have any idea of the extreme logistics of (manufacturing). I thought it was an assembly line.”

Instead, particularly at Busche, it’s high-tech robots and lasers.

“It’s lean,” Stewart said of today’s manufacturing. “You do things a lot smarter than they did 30 years ago.”

Stewart spoke of someone who started at an entry-level position. After 15 years, the man has risen through the ranks and will make upward of $75,000 this year.

Stewart said because of the nature of manufacturing, workers don’t just earn a paycheck — they also learn skills that are translatable throughout the country.

Stewart said the main two issues Busche has with recent high school graduates are math skills and a lack of work ethic. He said the latter is a difficult problem.

“To me, that’s a skill,” he said of work ethic. “I don’t know how you teach that.”

The fact that Busche needs to put on events such as Manufacturing Day in an attempt to lure in good workers is a testament to problems in the work force, Stewart said.

“It speaks to work ethic and our government creating a you-owe-me” mentality, he said.

For capable, driven workers such as Cureton, the sky is the limit. Such employees are spotted early and are put on the company’s fast-track to further advancement and additional job skills.

The young man who only wanted a summer paycheck has found himself with a good paycheck and a career.

Cureton said, “This is my first actual job.”