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Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1439

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we take a close look at Oklahoma’s manufacturing sector and the jobs it produces.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1439

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1439

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance

Kimray Inc.

Winter Fabrication

Manufacturing Day

Oklahoma 2014 Event Schedule

Indian Capital Technology Center

Ground Force Worldwide

Bennett Steel Inc.

Central Tech


Saber Transportation Support

Pontotoc Technology Center

Facebook – Oklahoma Archaeology Month

Oklahoma Anthropological Society

Show Details

Show 1439: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: September 28, 2014



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well, in many ways American manufacturing is not that different than the agriculture industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1940, 9.5 million U.S. workers were employed on farms. But by 2013, well, that number had declined all the way to 2 million. Yet, U.S. agricultural output has skyrocketed. And the same can be said for America’s manufacturing sector, where employment has declined from a high of 19.5 million workers in 1979 to approximately 12 million today. And the primary reason isn’t the usual suspects of imports or outsourcing. It’s technology and innovation, where fewer employees can produce much more in much less time. Today, we take a close look at Oklahoma’s manufacturing sector and the jobs it produces. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Rob McClendon.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, walk down the aisle of any retail store, and you will be hard-pressed to find a “Made in America” label – and for good reason. America’s manufacturers for the most part produce higher technology products that sell for higher margins. It’s a high-tech industry that has sustained growth for the last three years, and several factors are behind the trend. Both labor and transportation costs are rising in places like China – while here at home, automation and globally competitive wages are making manufacturing a smart career.

Rob: Well, manufacturing is making a comeback in Oklahoma.

Larry Mocha: This last year has been our best year. We just found out we broke through 10 million for the first time in our history.

Rob: Larry Mocha owns Tulsa-based APSCO and says he’s seen his workforce double in the last five years while revenues have tripled.

Mocha: It’s so computerized. Everything is. And it’s process-driven. It’s a new world for manufacturing.

Rob: In fact, the average manufacturing worker today earns a salary that is 43 percent above the state average.

Mocha: Our machinists make more than our salespeople. They’re really well-paid, and they’re very much sought after everywhere, not just in Tulsa, but everywhere.

Rob: Mocha says the overall manufacturing industry is expected to grow by close to 6 percent next year, thanks to a trend called reshoring. Companies that once outsourced are increasingly finding that keeping production closer to home improves quality and reduces lead time in getting products to market.

Mocha: If you, your price is gonna be level or if it’s fixed, the only thing you can do is look at your processes. Look at those costs. What can you do in your processes to take waste out of that, to eliminate waste?

Rob: Improvements that are good for the state’s entire economy, with manufacturing now accounting for 89 percent of Oklahoma exports.

Mocha: Manufacturing is an industry that creates wealth in and of itself. I think for every dollar spent on manufacturing or related industries, another buck and a half is generated as a result. Well, that’s just by manufacturing by itself. When you export, like if we export out of Oklahoma, then what we’re doing, we’re growing the pie. Manufacturers help grow the pie. When you export stuff out of Oklahoma you’re bringing those dollars into Oklahoma, so you’re helping to grow that pie. So most of our stuff is done outside of Oklahoma, all the work’s done here, all the money comes back here, but our products are shipped all over the United States.

Rob: When we return, a look at how domestic energy production is helping fuel American manufacturing.

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Well, domestic energy production is a significant factor in the United States’ rebounding manufacturing sector. Cheap natural gas helps manufacturers of steel and petrochemicals compete at better price points, while domestic demand for energy-related equipment is at an all time high. With more here is our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: Rob, the Oklahoma City-based Kimray Co. has been manufacturing equipment to tap into our energy resources for over six decades – giving the company an expertise that has made them a worldwide leader.

Alisa: Parts are moving down the line at Kimray Inc.

Jim Cameron: We manufacture control valves, regulators, liquid level controls, temperature controls – devices to help extract oil and natural gas from the earth.

Alisa: Kimray’s Jim Cameron says they provide jobs that won’t be sent overseas.

Cameron: Our products are made here. We basically start from scratch in the machine shop. The machinists, welders, painters and technicians -- they build the components from raw materials and components that are American-made. They ship them to the assembly department, and each unit is assembled and individually tested. We know it’s important. The environment those products are going into is critical. So we want to make sure it functions properly before we box it or crate it and ship it from Oklahoma City to points around the world.

Alisa: Machine shop supervisor Russell Hale says today’s manufacturing is constantly changing for the better.

Russell Hale: If you look at any industry, manufacturing is the basis for everything that’s going on in the economy. Everything has to come from somewhere. There is much more technology involved in the design and application of tooling and how tooling is run. We’re currently taking on an initiative of upgrading our tooling within the manufacturing, and we have some training programs going on with our leadership and with our employees on these new technologies because it’s faster and harder than what we’ve run in the past.

Alisa: And there’s a reason they’re still in business in Oklahoma after 65 years.

Cameron: You know, we started here. The workforce here, there seems to be a capacity for hard work, for the flexibility when, you know, when you’re called on to work harder or longer. There’s an optimism.

Alisa: A workforce that’s keeping Kimray committed to Oklahoma.

Cameron: The people we hire here, the people that work for Kimray, some for up to 45 years, Kimray just believes that they are like family. It’s extended family. I believe we contribute to Oklahoma because we provide secure, good-paying manufacturing jobs.

Alisa: And according to Hale, soft skills like coming to work on time are just as important as technical skills.

Hale: The character of the employee means a lot to Kimray. A particular job can be taught but the character of the individual is -- they have it or they don’t have it. They come with that. And that’s what Kimray is really looking for, that experience and that character, that moral character that the employees have.

Alisa: Keeping Oklahoma manufacturing and Oklahoma jobs right here in Oklahoma.

Alisa: And last year sales of energy-related goods surpassed those of aerospace as our country’s top export.

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” keeping the big wheels rolling, but first, training today’s workforce for tomorrow’s jobs.

Rob McClendon: Here’s what we know. At the height of American manufacturing jobs, the average U.S. worker produced roughly $28,000 of value-added input into our economy annually which is less than one-fourth as productive in real terms as today’s annual per worker output of $170,000. And here’s the difference. Today, we manufacture much more high-value products, which means a skilled workforce is vital to manufacturing’s future. Joining me now is our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, with only eight employees and two years of existence, Winter Fabrication is recognized nationwide as a highly successful metal manufacturing company. Yet it is always looking to make improvements, and President of Winter Fabrication Vince Williams says quality is better than quantity when it comes to adding an employee to the team.

Courtney: Serving the oilfield, pipeline and mobile equipment industries, Winter Fabrication in Tulsa, Okla., is a metal manufacturing company that’s building its brand one skilled employee at a time.

Vince Williams: We’re still building our culture here at Winter Fab. We’re only two years old, and we’re still developing who we are. We’re still building our team, but really it’s built around skilled, skilled workforce, the skill of the individual.

Courtney: Williams says there’s one skill in particular that he looks for in a potential employee.

Williams: Really the biggest skill that students could, could come to us with is math and being able to do simple arithmetic, multiplication, division, addition, working with areas and trigonometry. That’s very important. I mean, that’s the foundation for really for all manufacturing.

Courtney: And Community Affairs Director Stephanie Cameron says math skills will only take an employee so far.

Stephanie Cameron: Showing up on time, being respectful, those are all things that will get you through the door of a company and will open up opportunities for advancement for you.

Courtney: An advancement in a company that cares about building the future of its employees.

Williams: We really believe in investing in our employees and trying to get the best and the most out of them so they can develop, and so for me the challenge is figuring out, you know, what different people’s skills are, where do they best fit and then how can we develop those so they can improve and get better.

Courtney: Williams says a strong work ethic is the key to moving up in the industry.

Williams: When you have a good skilled employee that really wants to work hard and get ahead, then they flourish in an environment that we provide.

Courtney: Yet Cameron says there is a common misconception about manufacturing that might hold potential employees back from being interested in a job in the industry.

Cameron: I think when people think about manufacturing, they picture the industrial revolution, like your grandfather’s dirty factory, and now it’s changed dramatically. It’s high-tech, it’s sophisticated, it’s clean, it’s well-lit, it’s safe, all of these things. So there’s a little bit of a perception gap there, and I think we need to overcome that.

Williams: These machines have touch screens and programs, and they’re all networked together. We have Wi-Fi controlling some of these machines. It’s very advanced, and it’s not what a lot of people think, and I don’t think there is enough communication to the younger generations that that’s really a good career path.

Courtney: Aside from the top of the line technology, Williams says nothing can take away from the relationships the employees have with each other. It’s like a family.

Williams: The ones that have been there a long time, what they realize is that we’re a family. I mean, it’s easy to say it’s a family-oriented company. It’s still owned by the son of the gentlemen that founded it, and his sister works there, his wife works there, his son has worked there. And with the tenure that you have, naturally you get that spirit of kinship.

Courtney: And at Winter Fabrication, the company believes in continued education. If an employee wants to get a degree or take classes in a field that would benefit the company, Winter Fabrication will pay for the employee’s school because Williams said you are never done learning.

Rob: Now, I did notice a bit of an accent in Mr. Williams’ voice – why did Winter Fab decide to locate here in the middle of America, here in Oklahoma?

Courtney: Well, when I spoke to the president of Winter Fabrication, Vince Williams, who is from Europe originally, he said Oklahoma is one of the most economical places to live, and its central location allows them to ship product north, south, east and west very easily.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob McClendon: Well, October is National Manufacturing Month, and here in Oklahoma there are 13 separate events and tours taking place leading up to Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3. And we do have that complete list on our website. Just go to to see how you can take part.

Rob McClendon: Well, building a clear career pathway for young people to enter America’s manufacturing workforce is certainly critical for our economy. But so is the ability to retrain employees for the demands of today’s ever-changing workplace. Joining me now is our Andy Barth.

Andy Barth: That’s right, Rob. With today’s manufacturing industry incorporating more and more technology, workers are having to retrain themselves to become more competitive in the workplace.

Andy: Manufacturing – a key player in today’s economy. But with baby boomers retiring, they’re leaving a big problem behind.

Bill Arnold: There’s a lack of skilled workforce right now.

Andy: Which is why Indian Capital Technology Center is geared up to retrain today’s workforce.

Tony Barrett: Here at Indian Capital we just installed a new maintenance training facility.

Andy: Indian Capital Industrial Coordinator Tony Barrett.

Barrett: We’re doing hydraulic training, we’re doing electric motor control, we’re doing PLC trouble shooting training. We’re learning how to program these new equipment that’s coming into manufacturing that’s basically run off of computers.

Andy: And instructor Bill Arnold says this program helps workers learn new skills while enhancing what they already know.

Arnold: There’s a lack of skilled trades in the area and all over the country. And that’s something we’re lacking, and it gives some of the people the ability to come in and learn new trades as well as the trades they already have and enhance the trades.

Andy: And Barrett says Indian Capital helps companies bring their workers up to speed for a high-tech workplace.

Barrett: There’s no one else out there that’s going to train our maintenance guys, to give them the refresher training that they need to go along with the new equipment and technology that’s coming in and advancing.

Andy: New technology that’s essential for an up-and-coming workforce.

Barrett: There’s numerous production facilities out there, and we all have to have these things. Just like the numerous companies that we’re doing training with now, if we don’t have somebody to come in and take these jobs and fill these positions as the older workforce is leaving these positions, we’re gonna have a loss.

Andy: Retraining today’s workforce for tomorrow’s high-tech jobs.

Andy: Well, now, Indian Capital Technology Center is part of a larger effort to retrain today’s workers. The Oklahoma Department of CareerTech leads the nation in training people to become more high-tech.

Rob: And I understand this effort, Andy, is gaining national attention.

Andy: It really is, Rob. People are coming from Idaho to see how the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech System creates high demand for their students.

[Grinding metal].

Andy: With sparks flying and metal grinding, Oklahoma’s manufacturing industry is booming. And the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech is helping make that possible. Central Tech Center’s Stephanie Pool.

Stephanie Pool: If you look at the jobs that are open, about 20 percent of ’em really need to go on to higher ed for those degrees. So you’re looking at a huge majority of them that need technical skills, certification and training. And that’s exactly what CareerTech provides.

Andy: Which is why Idaho business owner Ron Nilson traveled to the Sooner State – to learn from a high-tech system that works to bridge a growing skills gap.

Ron Nilson: Oklahoma kind of leads the country of understanding the importance of career and technical education.

Andy: An understanding that Nilson says provides dramatic results when it comes to employment rates.

Nilson: When you see something that has matured and is working every single day that has the statistics where you have 3.5 to 5 percent unemployment rates – when the rest of the country has 7, 8, 9, 10 percent. And you say why do we have one? Well, we have people with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees who can’t find a job. Well, because they don’t have no skill, they got an education.

Andy: And Poole says the success CareerTech offers wouldn’t be possible without input from the companies they train for.

Pool: Input from business and industry is crucial, and if you look around the state, what you find is, all of our full-time programs work with business and industry, and they have what they call advisory committees. And those companies come in, look at the curriculum, look at the equipment, look at exactly what’s being trained. And then that’s how we develop that curriculum to put that next generation out there.

Andy: And one of those businesses involved with CareerTech – Bennett Steel in Sapulpa. Owner Dave Bennett says he needs people with the right skills.

Dave Bennett: What we’re looking for is the basic skills – welding, CNC operators -- and CareerTech has that kind of training. They’re a good source of employment, a good source of training, very helpful in getting the right kind of people for our type of work.

Andy: And aside from the welding and metal work training, Bennett says CareerTech sends him workers fully trained in safety.

Bennett: Safety is the No. 1 priority anymore in any job -- having the classes – first-aid training, CPR, OSHA training and different things like that for my company.

Andy: And while industry skills are vital for employers, Poole says soft skills are also key when finding the right worker.

Pool: Different generations come through. You see right now a generation that wants to have that immediate gratification and be able to go out and get some sort of degree and then be able to be the president of a company. But a lot of times they don’t understand what it really means to show up every day and to be on time and to have really good work ethic. And that’s one thing that CareerTech does a really good job of instilling within them is if you want to have a great job -- and there’s wonderful jobs out there -- you need to know how to treat it and you need to know treat others and you need to know what’s expected of you. So being able to meet those high expectations and having those skills to provide that quality in the type of things that you’re gonna be able to see out in business and industry make those companies want to hire CareerTech graduates.

Andy: And because CareerTech prepares its students for jobs in Oklahoma --

Pool: -- those jobs are staying in the state. And one thing CareerTech also does well is look at the placement of their students and that high percentage. So not only are we looking at the retention and the number of them graduating. I know currently at Central Tech, we’ve had a 95 percent placement rate.

Andy: Creating a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company.

Andy: Now, Nilson also said that he hopes to learn how to incorporate more business and industry into Idaho’s education system. And he also encourages others to do the same.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Andy.

Andy: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob McClendon: Well, one critical component of manufacturing success is the ability to get products to their end user efficiently and on time. That’s why a small Oklahoma company in Ada, Okla., is helping transportation companies around the nation stay legal while out on the road. Once again, here’s our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: In Ada, Okla., a family business is emerging as a nationally recognized drug testing company.

Dewayne Reed: We help ’em stay compliant with all the DOT rules and regulations. And if they have questions, they can call us, and sometimes we may not know the answer, but we know how to find what the answer is. And then not only do we give ’em an answer, but we give ’em a solution to their problem.

Courtney: But it hasn’t always been easy.

Reed: We had an office there in Oklahoma City for a while, which I’m from Stonewall so it was a long commute, and when I didn’t commute, well, I slept on the floor on a blow-up mattress.

Courtney: No longer sleeping on the floor, Reed credits his company’s success to a program offered by the Pontotoc Technology Center. This program allowed him to launch his career in his hometown.

Reed: The technology center, Pontotoc Technology Center, contacted me about getting into their incubator program, which I was so happy that they did, because it allowed me to get off the floor and back down here to Ada and at home where I didn’t have to commute or sleep on the floor.

Courtney: Saber Transportation Services does business across the transportation industry, and Reed says customers are often unaware of the strict guidelines that must be met.

Reed: A lot of ’em don’t really understand what they get into, what they’re getting into when they get in the trucking business. There are a lot of rules and regulations that they just don’t research and know how involved it is and how much safety requirements there are.

Courtney: And above all, Reed says, customer satisfaction is the family’s goal.

Reed: As long as we can see positive growth every year and continue to satisfy our customers, that’s our main thing.

Rob McClendon: Well, in addition to October being National Manufacturers Month, it is also National Archaeology Month. Earlier, I was able to sit down with Stephanie Stutts, a member of the Oklahoma Anthropological Society to talk about why they like digging up the past.

Stephanie Stutts: Archaeology Month is a statewide, month-long series of events that will be hosted throughout the state by the archaeological community for the public. They’ll be events like flint knapping and research presentations, but hands-on things that’s family fun.

Rob: Now, you are currently an archaeology student, correct?

Stutts: Yes.

Rob: But there are other, I will call ’em amateurs or enthusiasts that are also involved in the society.

Stutts: Right. So the society is built with professionals and amateurs or avocationalists. The role there, it’s really, it would be difficult for either group to function without the other. So professionals need people in the community that know about archaeology and preservation because they’re the feet on the ground. So it’s hard to cover a lot of ground when, you know, you have a handful of archaeologists at a university, but if we can utilize the whole community of people interested in archaeology it really helps everyone.

Rob: I just want you to describe what one of your digs are like.

Stutts: You wake up early in the morning because it’s typically -- when it’s hot out -- I mean, it’s Oklahoma so it’s hot most of the year. And, yeah, everybody heads down to the site, start digging together. Archaeology is a very communal –

Rob: Hands-on.

Stutts: – Yeah, it’s very hands-on.

Rob: Very hands-on and very dirty hands-on.

Stutts: Yeah [laugh].

Rob: Is it fair to say this is a very exacting hobby?

Stutts: Yes, it’s very fair to say that.

Rob: Uh huh, because I mean, you will literally be digging in maybe a few-foot area over the course of a day.

Stutts: Yeah, it’s typically like a meter-by-meter square and you go down centimeter by centimeter ideally so you can see every -- yeah, it’s very exacting.

Rob: What kind of tools do you use to do that?

Stutts: So we use trowels, but like what masons use, not gardeners, so they’re flat trowels not the shovel shaped. Brushes, if you get into the, uh -- maybe a bamboo stick, so.

Rob: What’s it feel like the first time, or I guess anytime, when you find something that’s literally been out of sight for decades, centuries?

Stutts: It’s really amazing to see something that hasn’t seen the light of day for thousands of years. I think is very, it’s a physical reaction because those things were left by people who have long since passed, and all we have are these stone tools.

Rob: And I guess it should be said, you know, while we are a relatively young state it’s not like we don’t have a lot of history.

Stutts: There’s so much history here. I mean, there’s such a diverse population of people that I think, you know, sure Archaeology Month is about the archaeology, but it’s also about bringing these communities together to learn about each other and to learn from each other. So it’s community building as well.

Rob: Stephanie, thank you so much.

Stutts: Thank you.

Rob: Now, if you would like to see more of digs all across the state, our Alisa Hines went out on a couple of ’em, and we have those on our website. Just go to and click on this week’s value added.

Rob McClendon: A quick programming note for next week’s show here on OETA. Next Sunday afternoon we’ll be making way for a replay of the gubernatorial debate between Gov. Mary Fallin and State Rep. Joe Dorman. So we’ll be airing bright and early at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, so set your alarms or your DVRs for 6:30 a.m. for Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob: Well, we are out of time. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for watching. See you back here next week.