Investing in workforce development fosters employee engagement in manufacturing.
Eric D. Miller has a passion for metal fabrication. This would make sense, given that he represents the third generation of family leadership at the helm of Brookville, Pa.-based Miller Fabrication Solutions (formerly Miller Welding & Machine Co.). Working alongside his father after school and during summer breaks since he was a young boy, Miller worked in various areas of the company. After college, he worked in customer service, IT, and purchasing before his promotion to VP of sales and marketing. Today, Miller is president of the OEM fabricator.
Miller, at left in the photo, considers workforce development and keeping his employees engaged one of the most important aspects of his job. “I want everyone who works here to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, in the same way I try to be as transparent with them as possible,” he explains. “But it’s not just about capturing employee sentiment; it’s what you do with it, as a business leader, that counts.”
One example of how Miller and the management team work to recruit and retain employees is the company’s internal Weld Training Program, which gives all employees the opportunity to get their start in welding, regardless of their background. The program was developed in response to employees’ interest in acquiring different skillsets.
“We invest in our workers because we know it will create a stronger team,” he says. “This is a family-owned business, and we see each of our almost 400 employees as an extension of our family. If they are happy with the work they’re doing, it is good for the business, which is good for the community. We believe that if you respect others, they will return the favor.”
Many employees have built long, stable careers at Miller Fabrication Solutions—some have walked the company’s floors for 20, 30, and nearly 40 years. Miller explains that such longevity is due, in part, to the company culture and working with employees on advancement opportunities.
“Responsibility to the community is a central tenet of the Miller purpose. It’s why we go to work every day,” he explains. “We know that the decisions we make not only affect ourselves and our families, but all employees and the community at large.”
To attract young people to manufacturing careers, Miller says the industry needs to introduce them to what manufacturing is first. Sponsorships and investment in local events, charities, student groups, and other organizations help Miller Fabrication Solutions fulfill its purpose to the community. Another activity the company commits to is the annual Manufacturing Day (www.mfgday.com), held the first Friday In October and sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.
“Manufacturing Day allows local students, residents, business owners, and the general public to see the work we do and, I hope, ignite their interest in manufacturing,” Miller notes. “We want to show young people that you can have a rewarding career, and make a well-paid and satisfying living working in manufacturing.”