In the Hudson Valley in 2018, business is good for the hi-tech advanced manufacturing business sector, a legacy economic cluster leftover from the days when IBM and other corporate giants cast their massive shadows across the valley.
After these Fortune 500 companies downsized their presence in the Hudson Valley, manufacturers who survived the downturn became lean, agile, and hi-tech, and this has paid off as the economy has started to grow.
Manufacturers here are feeling pressure, though. Not pressure because they can’t meet market demand. Rather, they are feeling pressure because they need more, and younger, up-and-coming talent. They know they need to develop a talent pipeline but are not sure how to reach young people in order to do so.
Facing these new realities are standout companies within the high-tech machining and manufacturing economic cluster, and one is Fala Technologies, a T-SEC Featured Partner.
Fala Technologies services small to large companies and corporations across business sectors, including the semiconductor, transportation, aerospace and defense industries.
Among Fala’s clients are also businesses from the fine arts world, such as Polich Tallix, maker of the Academy Awards’ Oscar statuettes. They also fabricate multi-million-dollar fine art pieces that are displayed in museums and private collections worldwide.
Custom machining, engineering services, and contract manufacturing services are offered to an impressive client list of both domestic and international clientele.
At Fala Technologies, the dearth of new talent, coupled with the impending retirements of master craftsman and engineers, has Frank Falatyn, president of Fala Technologies, worried.
It’s a worldwide demographic trend that has recently been referred to in the tech manufacturing and machining sector, and elsewhere, as the silver tsunami: a time when master craftsman will retire, with very few trained masters left in the ranks behind; this situation has economists and business leaders worried.
Frank also knows that, besides the aging out of talent, there is an inaccurate but persistent image among the general public about manufacturing: that it is burdened with rote work and dusty, dirty environments.
This is untrue, and Frank knows it. Fala Technologies, like others throughout the region, is the picture of environmental awareness and ultra-clean shop floors.
Furthermore, the marriage of technology, 3D design, and shop work is anything but boring.
Today, manufacturing is done with clean tech and hardware married with software, a new and interesting space.
Still, the fact is that the dusty factory floor image is often conjured in the minds of both parents and their high-school-aged students who are in the midst of figuring out career paths.
The perception means few pursue the education (which often doesn’t require a four-year degree) necessary to train for the thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs that exist now. And demand for these jobs will only grow in the near future.
Add to this the reality that the manufacturing field has been a scary and uncertain career choice in recent decades, as centuries-old, famous companies, like Thomas Edison’s General Electric, have seemed to lose their footing. Jobs have moved offshore, companies have downsized, and corporate campuses have been shuttered.
Simultaneously, elementary and high schools have not pushed STEM tracks, and community colleges have lagged in offering course tracks that could steer students into well-paying jobs.
In light of this, and the retiring workforce, Frank Falatyn of Fala Technologies has taken the matter of cultivating talent into his own hands.
By marshaling the funding capability that T-SEC brings to the table along with T-SEC’s long-time support and partnership with area community colleges, like SUNY Ulster, Frank Falatyn has brought together funded equipment from T-SEC, programmatic support from SUNY Ulster, and area students and manufacturers in order to educate future talent.
“I’ve been very involved over a longtime with T-SEC, and we have morphed our mission multiple times in terms of where we think our best bet would be in helping manufacturers. I’ve always been the person at the board meetings talking about workforce development,” said Falatyn.
Frank approached T-SEC about the purchase of a CMM machine, a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). This is a device used in the measurement of the physical geometrical characteristics of an object, according to Wikipedia.
Frank proposed that he could use this machine both for his own staff and to teach a course in an industry standard known as GD&T.
“Right now, GD&T is the highest level today in the industry of what we call blueprint engineering, it’s very high level.
“The best way I can say that is, the tolerances that my company works with today in terms of how precise we must make things are at a point where things must be ten times more accurate than in days past,” Frank Falatyn said.
T-SEC agreed and provided Frank with a state-of-the-art CMM machine, which is available at Fala Technologies to help Frank’s team do their work. The CMM machine is also a part of a three-course offering, via SUNY Ulster, to help other area engineers and shop workers better perform their jobs.
“The CMM machine allows you to inspect your machining; it has all the math and the software inside to do the calculations,” Frank informed us.
Frank offers his courses two times a year via the Grants/Supported Training program put together at the Development Center for Business at SUNY Ulster.
The center works with area manufacturers and companies to obtain grants that offset training costs. Funds can be procured from several sources including the Department of Labor and through the SUNY Workforce Development Grant Program. Besides Fala, other Ulster County companies that participate in the grant-funded training include Stavo Industries, SP Industries, Pardee’s Agency, Alcoa Fastening Systems, SunWize Technologies, and Zumtobel Lighting, to name some.
To view any current Department of Labor opportunities for funding, visit: http://www.labor.ny.gov/businessservices/funding.shtm
Funds are also available through a SUNY Workforce Development Grants for Community Colleges program. These competitive grants are awarded for noncredit training programs that address a variety of workforce skills in areas including management, supervision, manufacturing, and computers.
In addition to the GD&T program, Fala is training unskilled workers in a special program the company was recently certified for by the Department of Labor, known as the New York State Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program. The state coordinator overseeing the program is MACNY, The Manufacturers Association. They act as the program sponsor and in this region are working with Frank and also the Council of Industry, another T-SEC partner, whom T-SEC supports with marketing. The Council of Industry has a full description of the program here, and you can contact their program coordinator, Johnnieanne Hansen, here.
The program will allow Fala Technologies to assist in the design and running of an apprenticeship program, specifically for seven trades:
Fala is one of the only companies in the Hudson Valley that is an expert in all seven of these offerings, and we are pleased to say they have T-SEC’s support in this endeavor, both with equipment and with raising public awareness about that program.
Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) is a system for defining and communicating engineering tolerances. It uses a symbolic language on engineering drawings and computer-generated three-dimensional solid models that explicitly describes nominal geometry and its allowable variation, according to Wikipedia.
Falatyn wants his company and other Hudson Valley employers specializing in hi-tech manufacturing to continue to provide specialty engineering services to companies like semiconductor monolith, Global Foundries, aerospace giant, Sikorsky, and even transportation authority, the New York MTA.
This T-SEC-provided CMM is used to train new hires as well as students who come to Fala for course training and apprenticeship training.