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Three-quarters of a century ago, the Wiegel family came to Ellis Island with just a dream and $10,000 in their pockets. On the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 6, 1941), Otto and Kathe Wiegel took a gamble and invested all their money into that dream — founding their own tool and die shop, today known as Wiegel Tool Works, Inc. (WTW).
FEATURING GCAMP PARTNER FELSOMAT:Manufacturing's big challenge: Finding skilled and interested workers
Felsomat, a German manufacturer that makes automation equipment for the automotive industry, has a talent problem that's become a growth problem. Plans to triple the size of its Schaumburg facility, to 100,000 square feet, have stalled in part because it is difficult to find skilled technicians to design, build and service the automated systems that have allowed U.S. carmakers to produce more than ever before with fewer people, said Richard Gilchrist, chairman of Felsomat USA.
Boeing is well aware of the risks: Shortages of skilled workers from a smaller, mid-1990s exodus contributed to a factory meltdown that halted production of its cash cow, the 737. So earlier this year, the manufacturer carefully structured a voluntary layoff aimed at retirement-age workers, staggering the departures of 1,057 machinists to avoid massive disruptions.