It has been awhile since I’ve toured a manufacturing facility. During my corporate career I’d spent a considerable amount of time on a production floor, my marketing positions requiring trips out into “the plant”. I was a tour guide at one company, showing visitors the process of making ceramic tile.
This week I was a touree at an organization founded in 1883, currently employing 500 people. The latest equipment is utilized in fabrication there, yet I was fascinated by the manual, labor-intensive process of making their product. Workers were running high-tech machines but there was an equal amount of artists performing their craft. That’s right, in 2019, in a town of 6,000 in Pennsylvania, art is being created in a manufacturing operation.
One hundred and eighty-eight years is a long time. This is what America once was from sea to shining sea. Due to my vision loss, I don’t see detail, but from the guided narration coming through my headset and the outline of human versus robot, it was easy to recognize this was no mechanical assembly line, devoid of skilled experts and, dare I say, heart. I was filled with a sense of pride I did not expect. And hope. I know all about profit and loss, overhead and competition. And I am not ignotant to the struggle of a United States manufacturer. I have lost a job I loved because our doors had to close forever. But all I’ve thought about since I walked the yellow-lined tour route marked on that cement floor isq: America remains. It exists. And was is a privilege to witness.