AKRON—The jobs are there, the salary's nice, the travel opportunities are plentiful, and most people who enter the rubber industry never leave it.
So why aren't more young people lining up to fill the vacancies?
"The question we've asked for years is how do we get more people to even know that there is a rubber industry to get into," said 28-year-old Brandon Borzi, senior tech service representative with Rhein Chemie Corp. "How do we tell the general public that this is a good career to get into? There's good money to be made."
According to William Stahl, chemist with Rainbow Master Mixing L.L.C., the rubber industry's average age is 58. Attracting young people to the industry is a concern. The industry also must overcome a persistent stereotype.
"There's interest within the rubber industry now more than ever, but there is still that stereotyping of factory work," Borzi said. "There's a lot of different things that you do in the industry. There's every project under the sun from gas and oil to aerospace and everything that goes into the military."
He said some students are drawn to the potential of a rubber industry career. Take him for example.
Borzi began his journey at Ferris State University as a plastics major, wound up with a degree in rubber and had internships with Lord Corp. and Federal-Mogul Corp.
He said the internships played a key role in guiding him away from plastics and into the rubber industry, and he secured a job with Goodyear right out of college.
Borzi isn't alone, Joseph Scavuzzo, a 27-year-old doctoral student at the University of Akron's Polymer Science department, said he didn't pick the rubber industry, but he discovered it through a project he worked on involving thermoplastic elastomers.