Manufacturers unite to tackle talent challenges

The manufacturing industry in both West Michigan and beyond continues to face challenges in talent acquisition, retention and career development. It hasn’t just started in the past year and a half – it’s been a pervasive problem for decades. With a growing skills gap and more of the existing labor pool reaching retirement age, companies are struggling to fill and keep vacancies. Competition is fierce and skilled workers are in high demand.

Despite these hurdles, leaders in many industries, from automotive and industry to furniture production and personal care product development, are not only optimistic about the future, but confident and determined to maintain their position. business – and the West Michigan market – thriving.

While there are obvious motivations for supporting their own businesses, there is also a passion for the community and its success that drives leaders to find creative solutions to collective concerns. Whether it’s benchmarking to measure improvements, brainstorming innovative hiring and professional development strategies, sharing ideas and best practices, advocating for change, or partnering with local educational institutions, some of the region’s largest manufacturers are working together for the greater good of all.

This strategy is what motivates Council of Manufacturers of The Right Place Inc., founded in 1989 to strengthen the efficiency of the region’s manufacturing industry and make it an international center of manufacturing productivity. A member-driven organization, the board is a confidential group of peers from various manufacturing sectors – as well as some competitors – who come together for regular roundtables, factory tours, and one-on-one meetings to help each other. each other to navigate the ever-changing landscape.

With such a competitive talent market, one would think that recruiting and retention practices would be well-kept secrets, but quite the opposite: Board members are eager and grateful to have a fund. resonance. Whether detailing a more equitable benefit-sharing model for staff or demonstrating how a workshop has helped improve safety and efficiency in the field, these exchange opportunities have proven to be extremely beneficial.

“There is a common bond between those who sit on the board,” said Peter Hungerford, member and executive vice president and chief strategy officer at ADAC Automotive. “We have a fundamental desire to see our community prosper and grow, and that also means helping people within the community, whether that is providing jobs, investing in training or creating opportunities for people to grow. career. Every board member – and their businesses – is committed to the community, and being ready to share, network and learn from each other is a testament to that. “

Board members are also working together to shed a more favorable light on manufacturing and attract high school and college students to this promising career path.

“We are collaborating and leveraging tools, such as LinkedIn, to showcase the manufacturing presence in West Michigan and to demonstrate how cool it is,” said Ann Mason, member and vice president of the supply chain and operations at Perrigo Oral Care, a Perrigo Company. “And yes, there is competition for talent, but there is also a strong desire to keep these professionals in West Michigan, whatever company our members choose to work for.”

The Manufacturers Council also maintains relationships with entities such as West Michigan Works! and the Discover Manufacturing program, while leveraging the consulting services of Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center West (Center West) – all with the goal of adding value to members. To learn more about board membership, contact Rene Booker at (616) 301-6247 or

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