You hear it all the time: Young people are just not interested in entering the rubber industry. Well, here's one way to attract them: Show them the money. Troy Nix did, and it definitely peaked their interest.
Nix is the executive director of the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers, the industry trade group founded in 2010 from the remnants of the Rubber Manufacturers Association's non-tire division. The ARPM started small—about a dozen members in its first year—but has been growing steadily and now boasts 75 companies in the fold.
One of the services it offers its members is a salary survey. Nix said the information is obtained from human resources professionals, and represents 24,000 people.
Nix manned the ARPM booth at the ACS Rubber Division trade show and conference in Cleveland Oct. 12-15. The division—keenly aware of the need to get an injection of youth into the rubber industry—had a program for high school students to observe the happenings at the industry's major technical conference.
When they wandered over to the ARPM booth, the ever-buoyant Nix rolled out the ARPM's salary survey. Did it catch their interest? Oh yeah, it sure did.
Nix said they were intrigued by the average annual salaries derived from the survey of rubber and plastics companies—like an automation technician getting $52,000 annually, an engineering manager $93,000, a quality engineer $59,883.
The study reported human resource directors garnering $65,000 in wages, general managers $130,000, process engineers $65,790. For kids working a part-time fast-food job at minimum wage, that chart proved quite appealing.
You can nitpick the 2015 survey as being weighted more toward larger companies, with lots of plastics involved. Still, 186 companies were involved in the project, and geographically it looks like the majority came from the Midwest—still a bastion of the rubber industry.
I've seen other reports that generally verify what the ARPM published. A line in the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics for September, for example, has production supervisors and managers in the rubber and plastics field averaging $52,110 per annum. That's in the ARPM ballpark.
Manufacturing in general gets a bad rap in the U.S., with job security as much an issue as anything. But the BLS statistics say employment in the plastics and rubber industry has been rising every year since 2005. Add in the pay and yes, the rubber industry does have some appeal for those who someday will inherit the world.
Noga is a contributing editor for RPN and its former editor. He can be reached at [email protected].