Ashley Furniture welcomes 700+ students for National Manufacturing Day

Students tour Ashley Furniture's manufacturing facility in Arcadia, Wis.

ARCADIA, Wis. – Ashley Furniture Industries celebrated National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 7 by providing tours to local students for the sixth year in a row. 

The company will welcome more than 700 middle and high school students to its facilities throughout the month, returning from two years of virtual tours due to the pandemic. National Manufacturing Day, the first Friday in October, is celebrated throughout the month by manufacturers across the country.

MFG Day, originated by the National Association of Manufacturers, is the industry's biggest initiative to build excitement around the future of the modern manufacturing workforce and engage with students to demonstrate the exciting opportunities within the industry. As manufacturers seek to fill 4 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade, the need to educate the public about the endless opportunities and career pathways is exponential.

Ashley will tour the students through their advanced manufacturing operations, showcasing the drastic advancements that have been implemented with robotics and automation. Employees from various areas of manufacturing will speak about their career paths, including product design, automation, fabrication, assembly and quality.

Students will also learn about the importance of manufacturing and the economic impact on the surrounding communities as well as the country.

"Our team was very excited to open our doors once more to students from across the U.S.," said Todd Wanek, president and CEO, Ashley Furniture Industries. "With the advancement of manufacturing technologies and equipment, comes an entire new set of careers that require a skilled workforce interested in pursuing them. By sharing this excitement with young students, we hope to inspire the next generation of makers.

"Our students were excited to see the careers available in Ripley, Miss. and how their current education plan may affect which career path they want to pursue," said Damon Ladner, Ripley Middle School. "The visit correlated with the mission of the South Tippah School District: "To build a stronger community through quality education." If students begin seeing the value and rewards for improving their education at an early age, it will improve the workforce available to our community partners. Manufacturing day also served as a starting point for conversations about future career goals and real-world application of subject matter."

Participating schools in Mississippi include North Pontotoc Middle School and Ripley Middle School. Participating school districts in Wisconsin include Arcadia, Blair-Taylor, Eleva-Strum, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Holy Family Catholic School, Independence, Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School, and Whitehall. Northwest Middle School - Winston Salem in North Carolina and Van Guard High School in Texas are also participating.

Ashley has developed several partnerships with K-12 and post-secondary schools over the past five years, investing millions of dollars and resources towards various initiatives.  These combined efforts include investing in STEM-based learning opportunities, scholarships, providing students with exposure to technical trades and career opportunities, instructor training, and robotics programs. As manufacturing continues to advance and the global economy evolves, training and educating our current and future workforce is a crucial part of our country's success. 


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).