The face of manufacturing has changed dramatically over the years and one local example of that is Reynolda Manufacturing. The company, which was founded in 1995, has two facilities, one in Yadkin County in the Enon community and another in Alamance County.
Reynolda Manufacturing is a component manufacturer of parts for industries all across the country, said Andrew Egbert. Egbert is one of the company owners along with Greg Bedsaul, CEO and president.
“We produce parts for a variety of industries. We work in different metals — steel, brass, aluminum, stainless, copper, and several others. We have around 24 employees in the Yadkin County facility. We specialize in short and medium production manufacturing. All our parts are manufactured to very tight tolerances,” Egbert said.
The company is a member of the Precision Machined Parts Association, a trade association. Members of the group recently went to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress on issues that affect their business. Workforce issues are one of the areas that has affected Reynolda and American manufacturing overall.
“The problem that we’ve had over time is a skills gap,” Egbert said. “High schools and middle schools stopped having these type of career paths for students.”
Many of the employees at Reynolda have worked there for many years, Egbert said. A number of the employees at Reynolda and other similar manufacturing companies are reaching retirement age. The problem then becomes the lack of young people interested and trained in this type of work, Egbert said.
“Because you have that huge gap you don’t have the young group coming in to fill these jobs. There are 600,000 openings in manufacturing nationwide of high skill, high paying jobs,” Egbert said.
Filthy and unsafe manufacturing plants with dangerous machinery are a thing of the past. Though employees at Reynolda do follow strict safety procedures, the machines are much different now and mostly run by computer. Machinists now must be able to program complicated computers that drill and produce the machine parts.
The amazing thing about this type of job, Egbert said, is it is a skill that once learned can be taken anywhere in the country to fill one of the many openings in the industry.
Programs such as the ones at Surry Community College and other technical and community schools are a big asset in preparing a new workforce to fill these jobs, Egbert said.
During his recent visit to Washington, he spoke with Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on these issues as well as several other legislators.
“With Congresswoman Foxx, we tend to focus on workforce issues. Because of her background in education, she is a big advocate for developing ways to help people get educated in various fields for long-term employment,” he said.
The steel and aluminum tariffs are a new issue now facing the manufacturing industry and companies such as Reynolda.
“Even American manufactures are raising their prices,” Egbert said. “They did it months ago in anticipation of this.”
For some smaller parts Reynolda produces, it isn’t as big of an issue but for the larger, heavier parts, Egbert said the prices have gone drastically increased.
The company already purchases most of its raw material from American manufacturers except in cases where it’s not available.
“Some of what we buy that’s not American made is because the American mills aren’t manufacturing it so we have no choice,” he said.
Reynolda, in turn, is now having to raise its prices for customers based on their increased cost of purchasing their raw materials.
“We’re competitive. We’ve got a great workforce, but where it makes it difficult is when you’re competing for new business,” Egbert said of the price increases.
When they visited Washington in March, Egbert said leaders they spoke with were trying to do what they could by writing letters and other efforts in an attempt to address the new tariffs which came directly from the President under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — to address national security concerns related to steel and aluminum imports.
“Most of the people we met with, they’d rather us not be hit by that,” he said.
Despite the challenges that face American manufacturing, Reynolda Manufacturing, along with so many others, keep pressing on and keeping America running.
While the product made at Reynolda is not one the average consumer is going to be directly purchasing, it does go on to customers nationwide and even internationally.
“There’s a lot in Yadkin County that people don’t realize,” Egbert said.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.