U.S. Representative Tim Walberg visits Caster Concepts, sees signs of improving economy
Albion, Mi (Jan. 30, 2015) U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (R-Jackson) visited Caster Concepts Inc. to witness first-hand a Michigan manufacturing company benefiting from the upswing in the economy.
“It’s important to visit manufacturing facilities in my district to understand factors that are driving success and understanding issues that are head-winds to success and job growth,” Walberg said.
For 17 consecutive months, the manufacturing industry in the United States has seen growth, from increasing revenues to more job opportunities. The improved economic conditions are visible on the factory floor at Caster Concepts, a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty casters and wheels.
“Given the present state of the economy, our revenues are up and we expect them to keep growing through 2015,” said Caster Concept President. Dr. William Dobbins. “Employment is up too, but with health care and other government requirements, filling many of those vacancies might not be advisable.”
Like many Michigan manufacturers, Dobbins is cautiously optimistic by the growth of the economy. While demand grows for Caster Concepts’ custom-made heavy duty industrial casters and wheels for manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, and heavy manufacturing markets Dobbins worries government mandates will continue to whittle away at whatever gains are made.
During his visit, Congressman Walberg shared the work he has done to repeal the 30-hour definition of fulltime employment under the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the traditional 40-hour work week.
Topping Dobbins concerns is mandated health care, and a proposal for mandatory paid sick leave and family medical leave, which President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union Address in January.
“Everyone deserves time off, and we want to ensure that they get it. We also want to incentivize people to work, to show up and to do well in their jobs,” Dobbins said
Another key issue for employers like Caster Concepts, which has a staff of 90, is finding skilled labor. The company recently signed up for an innovative training program – JAC3 – launched by Jackson Area Manufacturing Association and Jackson College, Career Connection Early/Middle College. The pilot program places high school students in apprenticeships with area manufacturers.
Caster Concepts is currently home to Jeremy, a junior at Jackson County Western learning the welding trade. By the time the student finishes the program in three years, he will graduate with a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, a job and no debt
“We have a deficit in skilled labor,” Dobbins said. “We need to promote the value of learning a trade. People don’t realize that so-called blue collar jobs can earn them $60,000 to $70,000 a year.”