Panel of Manufacturing Experts Discuss Keys to Revitalizing a Struggling Workforce


Executives speak to regional manufacturers and business leaders at event hosted by SC&H Group and First National Bank.

(L-R): Trif Alatzas, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Baltimore Sun; John Williams, Chairman and CEO of Jamison Door; Ron Causey, CEO of SC&H Group; Renee Evans, Human Resources Manager at Pompeian Inc.; Mark Rice, President of Maritime Applied Physics Corporation; Jen Strobel, Vice President of Human Resources at Flagger Force; Jason Hardebeck, CEO of The Foundery.

Executives from the region’s leading manufacturers urged fellow organizations to adopt more creative talent acquisition and retention approaches, and stop using uninventive workforce development strategies, or face the prospect of continued difficulty with recruiting.

SC&H Group and First National Bank jointly sponsored the event, Manufacturing A Smarter Future: Revitalizing the Workforce, part of a manufacturing focused series created by SC&H Group. The event was held at the Mount Washington Mill-Dye House on Wednesday, September 20.

“We have made a commitment to our clients to offer them the best, most impactful, and educational resources we can,” said Ron Causey, CEO of SC&H Group. “With the help of First National Bank we are able to continue to host events like this that focus on the needs most relevant and timely to our clients. Developing a strong and effective workforce is a challenge all industries face, but for manufacturers there is a real need for talent, and SC&H is here to help.”

“This is a compelling issue for all of us,” said Hugh Robinson, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Team Leader at First National Bank. “Workforce development is an issue and a challenge throughout the industry. With a wealth of clients in the manufacturing space, SC&H has long been an advocate for the industry. We are thrilled to partner with them to create an educational and informative platform for manufacturers who face these challenges daily.”

Moderating the event hosted by SC&H Group and First National Bank, Trif Alatzas, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Baltimore Sun, directed a series of pertinent and timely questions to the panel of experts. While many manufacturing organizations have struggled to retain, recruit, and expand their workforces, the companies the panelists represent have managed to do just that through programs like vocational schools, grants, joint ventures, apprenticeships, and internal training initiatives.

Opening the discussion, Alatzas remarked on the importance of manufacturing to the Baltimore Sun, “Many people just see the Baltimore Sun as a media outlet, which we are, but we are also a significant manufacturer. The Sun has been a vibrant manufacturer in Baltimore for 180 years, printing, producing, and distributing the newspaper. The discussion around workforce development is so important. We need to work together because there are so many needs from a jobs standpoint.”

Touching on the most important issues faced by manufacturers, Mark Rice, President of Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, said, “The gap between workforce development and manufacturing is still our biggest challenge today.” Rice discussed initiatives taken by his organization to create training, educational, and mentoring programs at the high school level. A maritime engineer and boat manufacturer, MAPC’s programs have had great success at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology.

With as many as six out of ten manufacturing jobs going unfilled, according to Renee Evans of Pompeian, equipping the current workforce with the skills and abilities to succeed is increasingly important. Evans, the Human Resources Manager at Pompeian, a manufacturer of vinegar, olive oils, and cooking wines, has used partnerships and grants to meet their needs. “By combining resources and networks with area manufacturers, we have been able to secure vital grant money from the state of Maryland to better train and educate our people.”

Jen Strobel, Vice President of Human Resources at Flagger Force, shared the sentiment that they have so many openings they can’t hire people fast enough. Flagger Force, a construction and traffic control company, is looking to fill as many as 150 vacancies. Strobel stressed that just because they look to hire fast, they do not train fast. “You can’t microwave people,” Strobel said, “You train them in the slow cooker. You absolutely have to educate and reeducate your people, and then reeducate them again.”

Who to hire has become even more critical as manufacturers struggle to attract talent from traditional sources. Jason Hardebeck, CEO of the industrial-grade maker-space The Foundery, urged manufacturers to, “Expand your view and scope for who you can hire. If you’re not looking to change your criteria other will surpass you. Look to the people who just need a chance, and give it to them.”

Jamison Door, a producer of cold storage and specialty doors, has gone to great lengths to show how valued their employees are. John Williams, Chairman and CEO of Jamison Door, said, “We need to recognize and respect our people for what they do. Not everyone in the company wants to be president one day, but everyone’s job is important, and we let them know that.”

SC&H Group is looking forward to the next chapter in their Manufacturing a Smarter Future series. The series will continue to focus on providing lasting impact and education for the region’s vital network of manufacturers. SC&H Group believes it is a fundamental aspect of their businesses to help grow the manufacturing industry.

About SC&H Group

SC&H Group is a nationally recognized management consulting, audit, and tax firm serving clients from rapidly growing private sector businesses to Fortune 500 companies with global brands. The firm’s strategic practices provide the leading-edge thinking and advice that transform our clients’ businesses and help them outpace the competition. We embrace the future and help clients prepare, innovate, and evolve their businesses in this complex and highly competitive world. For more than 25 years, SC&H Group has demonstrated its commitment to delivering powerful minds, passionate teams, and proven results on each and every engagement. Learn more at

About First National Bank of Pennsylvania

First National Bank of Pennsylvania, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE:FNB), has more than 400 full-service locations throughout its multi-state footprint, including more than 30 in Maryland. In addition to a comprehensive suite of traditional banking products and services, the Bank also provides a full range of online and mobile banking solutions for consumer and business clients. First National Bank has been recognized repeatedly as an employer of choice, and was honored as a Best Places to Work finalist in Baltimore in 2017.

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