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October 13, 2017

Rutherford County Schools

More baby boomers are leaving the workforce than graduates are joining it.

When Jason Veal, a mechatronics instructor at Siegel High School, heard that, he told himself, “It’s kind of a perfect storm we’re walking into right now.”

Siegel was one of six schools – Rockvale Middle, Blackman Middle, Oakland Middle, Christiana Middle and Smyrna High being the others – that took part in Manufacturing Week tours organized by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and the Rutherford Works program.

Nissan hosted four tours and Bridgestone had a pair, while Calsonic Kansei and Schwan Cosmetics USA each had one.

Veal took about 20 Siegel students to Schwan.

“They get to see what we learn in the classroom is actually relevant to real world expectations,” said Veal, who was happy students were able to see firsthand the equipment they’re being taught on is the same equipment being used in a real world work environment like Schwan. “It’s not like you’re playing with Legos when you should be playing with something else.”

Junior Cameron Barnes said he did notice the “machinery is very similar to what we use.”

In class, fellow junior Christian Martinez has been working on an automatic conveyor belt.

“I want to do robotics and I saw a lot of that,” he said. “Seeing how complex they were, I really liked seeing that.”

Martinez also saw everyone working as a team, which “really gave me an inspiration to (see the Schwan team) work on something as complex as that.”

Manufacturing Week was highlighted by Manufacturing Day.

A 2016 report showed that manufacturing is one of the Top 5 fastest growing industries in the county, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Manufacturing Day is an informative discussion on how the chamber’s Rutherford Works program is helping to grow the manufacturing workforce in the county. It also serves as an informational meeting for other manufacturers interested in getting involved.

“I think what the Chamber and all of the local companies are doing to help support us is a fantastic endeavor,” Veal said. “I’m hoping it continues because the kids get so much out of it.”

MAIN PHOTO: Mechatronics instructor Jason Veal (far right) brought his class out for a firsthand look at Schwan Cosmetics. The tour was coordinated by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce as part of Manufacturing Week. Siegel High School’s tour of Schwan was one of eight tours throughout the county this week.

PHOTOS: Veal’s class spent just over an hour touring all aspects of production. A single production line costs Schwan in upwards of $1.5 million to install. Schwan, the largest maker of cosmetic pencils in North America, has the capacity to produce 500,000 pencils per day. Executives said they average 300-350,000 pencils per day. Students were surprised to learn Schwan offers 10,000 colors and 200 textures. Based in Germany, Schwan chose Murfreesboro because of its central location between New York City and Los Angeles. They also have locations in Brazil, Columbia and the Czech Republic along with two locations in both China and Mexico.