ESCO Engages Blog

Why I Chose a Career in the Trades

7 February 2023

4 million. That is the number of jobs U.S. manufacturers need to fill by the year 2030. Industry experts say about half are likely to remain open unless more individuals are inspired to pursue careers in modern manufacturing. The consequences are serious. In the U.S. alone, the employment gap could prevent manufacturers from taking on new work and expanding their offerings, costing the U.S. economy $1 trillion.

Why are fewer people choosing a career in manufacturing? At least one recent study of young adults says outdated perceptions of manufacturing are the culprit. The study, commissioned by Stanley Black & Decker, reveals a perception problem. Young people underestimate the income potential of a trade career, believe trade work is low-tech and have little understanding of what a career in the trades is like.

As a growing employer of more than 2,500 skilled workers worldwide, we take this data seriously. The tradespeople who work at our foundries, manufacturing sites, warehouses, and throughout the organization are the lifeblood of our business and critical to our success—making up more than 50% of Weir ESCO’s total workforce. They are skilled professionals who have found a match for their in-demand skills and career goals in the manufacturing sector. 

Meet four outstanding Weir ESCO team members who have built thriving careers in the trades. Each of these skilled workers was recently named Foundry Person of the Month, acknowledging their outstanding efforts in safety and quality and their positive and supportive attitudes:

Allan Sprawkins

Development Center Team Leader; Portland, Oregon

“I joined ESCO because I knew it was a good paying job and I like working with my hands,” says Allan who joined Weir ESCO at age 19 and just marked 35 years with the company.

Allan worked his way up from the shop floor to his current position as team leader for the dev center, a space that was formed in 2017 for engineering and metallurgy teams to use for research and development. Today, Allan works with a variety of different equipment to test products for field trials and conduct alloy tests to measure metal strength.

“The work I do is exciting and I’m always doing something new, which I like,” he says.

Incidentally, Allan is a second-generation ESCO tradesperson. His father, Vince, retired from the company several years ago after 45 years of service.

Steven Pruitt

Manufacturing Team Leader; Newton, Mississippi

Like Allan, Steven enjoys the excitement of his work. As a manufacturing team leader at ESCO’s largest U.S. foundry, he is responsible for ensuring employees stay safe by following work instructions. “You have to always be thinking and paying attention,” he says.

Steven joined ESCO in 2007 as a crane operator after working several years at the local La-Z-Boy plant.

“I’m an ambitious person and have always wanted to be the best at my job,” says Steven. “I saw there was more room to grow and move up at ESCO. I like the work and what the company stands for.”

He says he likes to lead by example and advises young people who are considering a career in the trades to “stay focused and be serious. Be the most professional you can be.”

Eric Mead

Grinder/Fitter; Port Hope, Alberta, Canada

“I chose manufacturing because I knew work would always be available,” says Eric Mead who has been with Weir ESCO for 18 years.

Eric and his teammates in Port Hope manufacture highly engineered ground-engaging tools for the mining and infrastructure markets. As a grinder/fitter, Eric ensures each casting is made to MII quality standards so that it fits properly and can be easily adapted to other equipment in the field.

Eric says that being a trade professional means “that there is always steady work, and I can learn something new every day. And there is always room for advancement.”

Yang Yu

Heat-Treating Oven Operator; Xuzhou, China

Yang Yu, who has worked at Weir ESCO’s foundry in Xuzhou, China, for nearly five years, says manufacturing work allows him to apply his attentiveness skills and sense of responsibility. “These are most important to do a manufacturing job well, and I have both,” says Yang. “Trainings in various fields helped me to expand my knowledge and enable me to develop more skillset to do my job well.”

As a heat-treating oven operator, Yang is responsible for putting castings through various thermal cycles to reach the desired hardness without cracking. The job requires proficiency with a wide range of equipment, including high-temperature ovens.

“A career in manufacturing is not an easy job,” says Yang. “But continuously developing yourself is a key to being great.”

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