Page 33 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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 still runs the gamut,” said Sullivan, adding that this diversity is certainly a positive, with communities no longer depen- dent on one company or one sector (Westfield, for example, once home to several buggy-whip manufacturers, suffered greatly with the invention of the automobile).
Overall, the sector is smaller and much more invisible, a trait that emerged as many jobs in manufacturing went south or overseas — Bosch closed in 1986, for example — movements that prompted many to question the sector’s viability, contributing to today’s workforce challenges.
Those we spoke with said there has been some prog- ress from efforts to introduce young people to the field,
from initiatives like Barbecue Fridays to the rising cost of higher education and a willingness to look at fields that don’t require advanced degrees.
“Young people have such a bright future in manufactur- ing, and without incurring all that college debt,” Kasa said. “That debt is getting way out of hand, and rising interest rates aren’t helping. These kids going to vocational schools, and they can be an entrepreneur; they can make six figures and be an integral part of the community. So we’re really working to educate parents about this.
“Not every student is cut out for a college degree, and meanwhile, four years is getting them nowhere in this day and age,” she went on. “Having the vocational education does so much more for these kids, and there’s such a future in it.”
She said showing young people where the parts made at Boulevard are going — into the SpaceX rocket, for example — generates enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, valuing employees and cultivating a strong sense of team are also important, she said, not just with breakfast and barbecues, but by creating a culture, building camaraderie, and even grooming the next generation of lead- ership for the company.
Borsari agreed, noting that building a team and creat- ing a winning culture are some of the things that haven’t
changed over the years.
“Years ago, a good business realized they had to have
talented people who could add value to their business feel well-compensated to stay with them,” he explained. “It’s the same today, but the difference is that, a lot of times, the high compensation and all those things need to be there before people can demonstrate that they have value.
“And you see that everywhere,” he went on. “You see that in companies with very little longevity; there’s no culture left. You can’t have culture when you have people transition- ing every two or three years to chase the latest and greatest thing.”
Overall, Borsari said the culture he and his team have created — one where people enjoy working well together
— is perhaps the company’s greatest competitive advantage because such a culture is less common than it was years ago.
“It’s pretty simple stuff, really,” he said. “It’s a refusal to take the cheap way out and at the end of the day, and it’s doing right by the people who count on us to treat them like we would want them to treat us.”
Bottom Line
Looking ahead, Sullivan repeated his oft-stated view that this region needs a growth strategy, one that will emphasize both the lower cost of living here and the strength and diver- sity of the local economy in an effort to convince more young people to stay — and more people from outside the region to find the 413.
And manufacturing is a big part of that story, he said, add- ing that the innovation that has defined the region for hun- dreds of years lives on in this sector.
You can’t look up a passing jet fighter out of Barnes and see the parts made here, said Sullivan, but they’re there. Just like this all-important component of the region’s economy. BW
“You can’t have culture when
you have people transitioning every two or three years to chase
the latest and greatest thing.”
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