ManufacturingManufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Manufacturing Day 2018 is on the first Friday in October, this year Manufacturing Day is Oct. 5.

While Manufacturing Day is officially Oct. 5, companies and community organizations should plan their events on the date in October that works best for them. If you are interested in hosting a Manufacturing Day event, visit

In Montana, several companies and organizations have hosted Manufacturing Day events for years. One of those companies is Spika Design and Manufacturing in Lewistown. Read more below from Bekhi Spika, director of sales and marketing,

Q: What is Spika Manufacturing and Design?

A: We provide customized access systems for manufacturing and maintenance operations in primarily the aerospace/aviation industry and the military. A lot of our platform systems incorporate height adjustability or overreach.

Q: When did Spika hold its first Manufacturing Day event?

A: Our first event was in 2011 and hosted about 50 local kids. In the past few years, we’ve hosted upwards of 500 students and 100 community members.

Q: Why did Spika Manufacturing decide to get involved in Manufacturing Day?

A: Like all trade companies (especially those in rural areas), we are facing workforce challenges that require us to think outside the box about how we recruit. We felt that bringing the community into our company for Manufacturing Day would be a great first step in building a relationship with our local workforce. We have hosted kids as young as 4 and adults that are in retirement.

Q: What do you do for Manufacturing Day?

A: It’s important to us that the event is more than just a tour – we want our guests to participate in a manufacturing or D&E activity and walk away with something cool that they’ve made. After all, that’s the best part about manufacturing – you get to make cool stuff, and people take a lot of pride in what they make. We typically break the groups up so half of them do a tour while the other half does the activity. Then they switch. This is a pretty simple way to cover a lot of ground in a 60-minute slot.
We also invite other industry experts to our shop to share their passion for their work with the kids as well. These experts have been a fantastic addition to our event, as they provide a bit more diversity to the experience. One of our colleagues brought in a car he’d been refurbishing and discussed how important machining was for putting the car together. Great Falls College has been a tremendous partner for this event, as they have been willing to bring their welding trailer up to Spika for the day and teach kids how to weld together rockets or helicopters drawn by Spika’s D&E team. This partnership has been a real contributor to the success of our event.
Finally, we have food, especially cookies. Sweets can be very persuasive, not only for the kids but for the older folks as well. We also give away as much swag as possible – gloves, welding helmets, measuring tapes, shirts, etc.

Q: What are two tips for a successful Manufacturing Day event?

A: #1 – Hands on activities. Anything to engage the guests in the actual work of the industry.
#2 – Build the hype.
• It’s important to talk with the educators early on to get in their schedule. Let them know what you’re trying to and how it could help their students. See if they have ideas for making it an even better event.
• See if fellow manufacturers in your area are participating and if there are opportunities to partner on different parts of the day or co-promote each other’s events. This is a great opportunity for manufacturers to develop a relationship with other community manufacturing companies that may lead into different opportunities for partnership.
• Invite a congressman to join the event!

Q: What are two things not to do for a Manufacturing Day event/What are two things you learned not to do?

A: No. 1 – Don’t skip on the food. I think the free food was persuasive for bringing the community members into our evening event.
No. 2 – Get organized with the hands-on activities early on. Give yourself some time to develop the concept and have flexibility with manufacturing the parts required for the activities. This is one of the most important parts of the event, so you want it to be done right.

Q: What is your favorite part about hosting Manufacturing Day events?

A: Watching the kids make something and take pride in it. A lot of them are surprised by what they can do. I think it’s empowering for them and gives the students that may not be academic all-stars a chance to succeed.

Q: Any big plans for this year?

A: We’re still in the concept development stage, but we have a new guy running the show this year and he has incredible energy for outreach. So I think it’s going to be fantastic.

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