By Gene Russell, Manex President and CEO

Building a new generation of manufacturing workers will help make this happen.

MFG Day is manufacturing’s biggest annual opportunity to inspire the next generation to start careers in modern manufacturing.

MFG Day does this through a series of focused events to promote manufacturing to students, parents, and educators on the first Friday of October. However, for the last decade, industry leaders have chosen to focus on manufacturing and in particular the manufacturing workforce for the entire month of October.

MFG Day is an initiative of The Manufacturing Institute, with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association as a founding partner. The Institute grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The Institute’s diverse initiatives support women, veterans, students, and workers through skills training programs, community building, and supporting the advancement of their careers in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, the Institute is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with the resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges.

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Is manufacturing relevant to the California economy? It’s not only relevant to California but hugely important to the United States.

Top Counties and Industries

According to MNI, one of our database suppliers, Los Angeles County is California’s largest in terms of industrial jobs, home to 453,116 workers. This is followed by Santa Clara (215,748), Orange (210,771), San Diego (140,209), and Alameda (89,187).

Taking a look at the state’s top industries, electronics manufacturing is the state’s top industry, accounting for 17% of California’s manufacturing employment. This is followed by food & kindred products with 13% of the state’s industrial workers and industrial machinery with 12%.

Instruments and related products ranks as California’s fourth-largest industry in terms of employment, with 9% of the state’s industrial workforce and transportation equipment ranks fifth with 8%.

National Rankings for California Manufacturing 

California ranks number one in medical device manufacturing with 72,000 employees and 2,131 establishments with concentrations in the Bay Area and San Diego.  California is also number one in electric vehicle (EV) production with Tesla.

California accounts for 46% of the U.S. fruit and nut production and 62% of the national value of fruit and nut crops. California leads in fresh market vegetable production, accounting for 44% of the U.S. harvested area and 49% of the national production.

These are not only harvested but packaged and shipped across the country and the world. A great example is the Blue Diamond Almond Cooperative which ships to over 200 different ports worldwide. The technology behind fresh bagged salads showing up in New York City in January is a testament to companies like Emerald Packaging’s science and can do attitude.

Other facts to know about California manufacturers, based on MNI’s advanced criteria available to subscribers, include ownership, distribution, and other trends:

  • 2% are women-owned
    • 2% are minority-owned
    • 9% are publicly-owned companies
    • 12% import raw materials
    • 31% distribute their products internationally

There are several factors that keep California at the top of the manufacturing world:

  • Top universities drive relevant education in science, technology, and innovation
  • Companies are started and located close to these educational institutions
  • Leading venture capitalists fund new and exciting ideas such as plant-based foods, new types of EV batteries, materials, and more
  • Top federal labs and manufacturing institutes spin out new technologies into an educated workforce
  • Agricultural powerhouse fuels local packaging, production, and shipping of food globally. (Amy’s, Ramar Foods, Blue Diamond, and many more)
  • Strong interest in advanced manufacturing

Challenges to California Manufacturing and Staff Recruitment 

  • Housing costs
  • Shortage of advanced manufacturing programs in high schools and community colleges
  • Tax and environmental poaching from other states
  • Water
  • Energy costs
  • Import logistics competing for industrial Land

To learn more about Manex’s efforts to support and grow California manufacturing, check out our Community Impact.

At Manex, Manufacturing Day is every day!

About the Author

As Manex President and CEO, Gene Russell is a driving force behind the firm’s successful track record in helping California manufacturing companies grow and thrive. He has held three successful CEO positions over a 20-year period for businesses that included early-stage, private equity, and non-profit. He has served as senior leadership for global Fortune 100 and iconic consumer-branded companies. Prior to Manex, Russell led a turnaround at a California midsized manufacturer. His experience in global sourcing and manufacturing over several decades led him to Manex where he brings real-world experiences, and as a result, a personal passion to restore and invigorate domestic USA-based manufacturing.

Connect with Gene on LinkedIn.