Starr honored by Ohio Strong

VIENNA – Starr Manufacturing Co. has grown in the last year-and-a-half from just more than 45 employees to approximately 65 employees today.

Now the company is reaching out to help the next generation by bringing in five students from Trumbull Career and Technical Center to give them experience in welding and providing other manufacturing skills.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel visited the company Friday, as well as Brilex Industries, 1201 Crescent St., Youngstown, as part of his office’s Ohio Strong campaign that encourages young people to consider manufacturing as a career choice.

Over the last several weeks, Mandel has traveled to 15 manufacturing companies throughout the state to recognizing employees who excel in their fields. Mandel, a Republican, also is running for reelection as state treasurer.

At Starr Manufacturing Inc., 4175 Warren Sharon Road, Vienna, Mandel recognized Martin P. Moss and Carl L. Humphrey, both of whom have worked with the company for many years.

Starr Manufacturing Inc. began operations March 1, 2007, as a successor to Starr Fabricating Inc. and Vienna Machine Company Inc. Starr Fabricating was founded July 1, 1965.

Moss, a quality control specialist, started with Starr Manufacturing Co. in 1996.

“Efforts to encourage young people to consider manufacturing as a career is something we need in Ohio,” Moss said. “We are losing skilled workers.”

Carl Humphrey, a fitter and a welder, said school training programs will provide young people the hands-on background they will need to move up quickly when they go into manufacturing companies.

“I began working and have continued to work in manufacturing because it is something that a person can take pride in what they do,” he said. “I can see the quality of work in the end product and know that I made it.”

Dale Foerster, a vice president at Starr Manufacturing, said the United States shows a 67 percent overall shortage of workers in manufacturing fields. There is an 85 percent shortage of skilled production workers.

Starr Manufacturing Inc., which makes parts for companies in the booming oil and gas fields, is able to bring in TCTC students to learn welding and other manufacturing skills because of a grant it received from the Penn-Ohio Manufacturing Collaborative, she said.

Ohio-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative is an organization involving manufacturing companies in Columbiana, Lawrence, Mahoning, Mercer and Trumbull counties that are working together to encourage growth.

Manufacturing provides 11 percent of the jobs – approximately 40,000 – in the five-county region, according to statistics provided by Ohio-Penn Manufacturing. The companies are estimated to bring in $2.66 billion. In the region, experienced employees in manufacturing fields may earn an average of $69,454 a year, she said.

Mandel does not have any authority to mandate changes in schools, but is using the tour as a bully pulpit to talk about providing different opportunities to young people to learn technical and manufacturing skills.

He told the employees the Ohio Strong campaign is designed to let young people know that manufacturing jobs can be an alternative to four-year college degrees that may only get them into low-paying jobs.

“As the baby boomers are retiring, I frequently hear we have a shortage of welders, pipefitters, electricians, carpenters, machinist and other skilled trades across Ohio,” he said. “I believe we need to put shop class back in high schools and do everything we can to encourage more Ohioans to enter these fields.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com