Schools, businesses celebrate manufacturing

JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS PHOTO BY STEVE VIRKLER A contingent from Lowville Academy visited QubicaAMF Oct. 13 for Manufacturing Day. They were, from left to right, school counselor Gilbert Monnat, Kris Stokes, Isaiah Roes, George Cornell, Sarah Haggett, Dillon Christman, Gabe Rivers, Damien Barley, technology teacher Ken Kozin and Alex Caterham.

JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS PHOTO BY STEVE VIRKLER
A contingent from Lowville Academy visited QubicaAMF Oct. 13 for Manufacturing Day. They were, from left to right, school counselor Gilbert Monnat, Kris Stokes, Isaiah Roes, George Cornell, Sarah Haggett, Dillon Christman, Gabe Rivers, Damien Barley, technology teacher Ken Kozin and Alex Caterham.

By MARCUS WOLF AND STEVE VIRKLER
JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS

Manufacturing day across the north country sent students from many schools into the factories and warehouses of area companies.

Students from South Jefferson High School toured the production floor at Jain Irrigation Inc. and watched presentations about the company’s operations, departments and career opportunities Oct. 13 for the fifth annual North Country Manufacturing Day.

In Lowville, students from three different school districts toured the QubicaAMF plant, starting with a group from Lowville Academy and Central School.

The students learned that the plant is the largest bowling pin manufacturing plant in the world, producing about 7,000 pins per day, and that three feet of lumber are required for each one.

They got to see the section of the mill where wooden bowling lanes are produced, then saw the kilns where the wood is dried and followed the pin manufacturing process from planning wood pieces, to gluing them together, shaping them, covering them with plastic molds and applying chemical finishes and designs.

Gilbert J. Monnat II, a guidance counselor at Lowville who also took the tour, said Manufacturing Day is valuable to show students that there are options besides the college track, including higher-paying technical jobs like welding, but that training is still essential and “education doesn’t end at high school.”

“I think it’s very important to expose our kids to it,” Mr. Monnat said.

The eight Lowville students were all member of Kenneth Kozin’s robotics class.

JAIN SELF CONTAINED

Four managers from Jain delivered presentations about how the company manufactures its Chapin Drip Tape, a water conservation tape for drip irrigation systems that allows water to travel directly into the crops’ roots.

Students learned and discussed the practices and roles within the company’s manufacturing process, including maintenance, quality control and safety departments. Students from the Sackets Harbor Central School District also were given a tour and presentations after South Jefferson.

Heidi L. Edtar, a school counselor for South Jefferson High School, said that she brought nine high school students grades 11 to 12 with her to the facility. South Jefferson was one of 17 schools throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties to tour any of the 14 participating manufacturing facilities.

“It was all interesting,” said Christopher A. Stevens, 17. “I might try to get into it.”

North Country Manufacturing day is an annual event in which manufacturing companies volunteer to showcase their operations and discuss the industry with students. F. Marshall Weir III, marketing director for the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, said that JCIDA, CITEC Business Solutions, the Jefferson County Department of Employment & Training at the WorkPlace, Lewis County Economic Development, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and other organizations worked together to coordinate tours with all of the manufacturing companies and contact school districts to garner interest.

“It’s a great idea for getting people to know about the jobs that are available here,” said Michael R. Shantz, human resources and safety manager for Jain Irrigation.

Project Team Supervisor Michael C. Crump guided the students throughout the production floor and discussed each step of production.

Students watched the machinery operate as Mr. Crump described how each machine worked, including how the notch wheels make slits in the irrigation tape, how the winders wrap the tape around the spools, how the flow testers ensure that water flows through the tape and how the wooden spools are built.

“I like the whole process, 17, “going down and seeing how everything works,” Kyle C. Duvall said.

Mr. Crumb also showed students the packaging process and the company’s maintenance shop where machinery parts are built and faulty equipment is repaired.

Maintenance Manager Tracy J. Vincent said that the company builds all of the machines used for production.

“It’s different here because most factories have stuff imported,” Mr. Stevens said. “Here, they do it all at once.”

The South Jefferson High School students also learned about Jain Irrigation’s product output and national market.

Mr. Shantz said that the facility’s 96 employees work together to produce 30 million feet of basic and deluxe turbulent flow irrigation tape each week for corn, onion, strawberry and broccoli farmers throughout the country.

“We don’t have job openings here,” General Manger Carson D. Lennox said. “We have career openings.”

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