AUBURN — Inside Mountain Machine Works, in front of sixth-graders wearing safety glasses, Joe Wing held a round, metal pulley as he talked about machine tools.
Friday was National Manufacturing Day, a time to show people that manufacturing is not dead.
Auburn students from Fairview and Washburn elementary schools also toured Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers.
“These machines are called lathes,” Wing said. The lathes turn round parts “into whatever we need. They create parts for all different industries. The customer we’re doing this for is B&M Beans in Portland. This is a pulley they need for one of their machines.”
A few moments later, company President Bruce Tisdale welcomed a new group of students and gave an overview.
“I bet you’ve been told that manufacturing is not a very good thing to go into,” Tisdale said. “It’s dirty, dead and dying. That’s not correct.”
In the past 10 years, the number of manufacturing jobs in Maine has declined. The latest example is Verso paper mill in Bucksport, which is laying off 570 workers. Still, other important statistics are overlooked by the media, Tisdale said.
“More manufactured products are made in Maine today than 10 years ago,” Tisdale said. “What’s happened is we’ve automated. We use half the people to do more work.”
The wages of manufacturing workers have risen, Tisdale said. “We need skilled workers.”
Manufacturing will never die; it impacts everything, he said.
“The car you drive. The fork you eat with. The chair you sit on. Everything you have is manufactured,” Tisdale said. “Producing electricity is manufacturing. Cleaning wastewater is manufacturing. It is a very important part of your life.”