The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce recognized nine of the state’s outstanding manufacturing associates on Friday, Oct. 6.
Six honorees featured at the S.C. Chamber’s inaugural Manufacturing Employee of the Year awards event held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center ply their craft in the Upstate.
The winners were:
Small Employer: Wayne Norris, 3C forming team lead, CeramTec North America, Laurens
Medium Employer: Armond Prior, aircraft sheetmetal mechanic, Lockheed Martin, Greenville
Large Employer: Dennis Askew, vice president and mill manager, Domtar Marlboro Mill, Bennetsville
Small Employer: Andrea Rodgers, information technology administrator, Phoenix Specialty Mfg. Co., Bamberg
Medium Employer: Teri King, HR manager, Bosch-Rexroth Corp., Fountain Inn
Large Employer: George Olley, tire building controller, Greenville-based Michelin North America, Spartanburg
Small Employer: Lisa Ann Ward, administrative assistant, Danfoss, Easley
Medium Employer: Eva Grande-Sandoval, plant change management, DAA Draexlmaier Automotive, Duncan
Large Employer: Eugene White, Principal Program Planner, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Aiken
“We are proud to honor our 2017 Manufacturing Employees of the Year today” said Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the S.C. Chamber, in a statement. “Here in South Carolina, we are known for our dedicated workforce, and these individuals showcase the best our state has to offer. Each of our award winners is an invaluable asset to their company, and their teamwork, innovation, and community service are signs of true leadership.”
The Jackson Lewis law firm presented the event, which also included a panel discussion about manufacturing led by five industry and elected leaders.
The group included state Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson; Dave Stafford, executive vice president of human resources for Michelin North America; Tim Hayden, founder of Anderson-based Sargent Metal Fabricators; Tim Hardee, president and executive director of the S.C. Technical College System; and state Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Dorchester.
Robbie Barnett, chief operating officer of the S.C. Chamber, led the panel. He kicked off the discussion by reading a proclamation from Gov. Henry McMaster that declared Oct. 2-6 as S.C. Manufacturing week, and Oct. 6 as National Manufacturing Day.
Panelists discussed what they believe is needed to keep manufacturing humming in the Palmetto State.
The issues ranged from infrastructure enhancements, such as the improvement of port facilities and the restoration of the state’s roads and bridges, to the need for workforce development.
“We’ve got enormous assets in this state,” Stafford said. “The technical college system is solid and sound for the most part. And it’s a wonderful springboard.
Stafford said the Greenville Technical College’s new Center for Manufacturing Innovation at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research is a good example of something that has the potential to change the landscape.
He said the facility has the “power” to attract and retain existing manufacturing and advanced manufacturing industries, and to change the mindset of young people and others as to what manufacturing is all about.
“As much as it’s a great platform to educate people, we also see that one of the great assets of the Center for Manufacturing Innovation… is the fact that thousands of students go through there every year,” Stafford said. “And they all go, ‘Wow!’ They’re blown away. They have no idea. They think manufacturing is dirty.”
Stafford offered up Michelin’s scholars program and the Greenville County School District’s push to provide students with career readiness classes as other factors helping to shape the industry’s future success.
“I think we’re moving things in the right direction,” he said. “I think all of us can think about what we can do in our own areas to contribute to that because it’s changing the attitude of what [manufacturing] means.”