(L-R): Bob Zaruta, NWIRC; Earl Lytle, SFPC; Devin Morrison, VTC Welding Student, and Representative Lee James pictured in front of the company’s laser machine.

Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC) continued their series of tours for Manufacturing Day with a recent visit to Specialty Fabrication and Powder Coating (SFPC). PA State Representative Lee James, along with NWIRC President, Bob Zaruta, toured their 46,000 square foot location in Franklin, led by VP of Operations, Earl Lytle.

According to Lytle, SFPC has a great team of supervisors and individuals with specialty skills, and they have aggressively been investing in the business adding high-tech equipment (automation and robotics) to remain competitive in their markets, but there are still challenges. “One of our biggest needs is finding qualified welders and machinists,” Lytle mentioned throughout the tour. “We can train someone, if we can find individuals interested in the manufacturing environment and the work we are doing here.” The company uses different approaches to improve their workforce pipeline. They typically host 3-5 Venango Technical Center (VTC) welding students at any given time, and they recently hired a new grad who they are training to work in various areas of the company.

SFPC is a metal fabrication company that fabricates, welds and assembles a variety of products for industries such as electronics, transportation, and fitness. Company CEO and Owner, Rod Griffin, himself was a machining student at VTC and started working at Conair after graduation. After years of working in various positions, he was able to purchase the company and later acquired a fitness equipment company now branded as Prime Fitness USA. SFPC will celebrate their 15-year anniversary this November.

Earl Lytle highlights one of SFPC’s 2 second improvements to help with workflow. (L-R): Bob Zaruta, NWIRC; Earl Lytle, SFPC; and State Representative Lee James.

“NWIRC arranged several tours this month because our mission is to help small to mid-sized manufacturers in our region grow and become more competitive. Part of that is spreading the word about great career opportunities in our own backyard,” said NWIRC President, Bob Zaruta. NWIRC is also kicking off the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing student video contest this month with teacher training. This year, several Venango County schools are added to the program and local manufacturing companies, including SFPC will participate as a Featured Manufacturer sponsor.   

About Manufacturing Day.

Launched annually on the first Friday in October with events continuing throughout the month, MFG Day helps show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders. Across the country, manufacturers small and large will be hosting students of all ages in their facilities, showcasing a vibrant and growing industry that is vital to our economy. Manufacturers across the country will open their doors to open more minds and highlight how modern manufacturers are solving tomorrow’s challenges today.

Last year, 275,000 people participated in nearly 3,000 MFG Day events across North America (these are just the events listed on the MFG Day website)—and more than 80 percent of students said they became more convinced that manufacturing provides interesting and rewarding careers after attending these events. More info can be found at www.MFGDAY.com .