Career center students tour Reed City plant

H&R Screw Machine Products opens doors for learning experience

REED CITY — Although education in a classroom is necessary and important, learning and receiving first-hand experience in a specific area of study can be just as enlightening while adding an element of fun.

In honor of Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3, nearly 60 students in the innovative engineering program at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District's Career Center were invited to tour the H&R Screw Machine Products plant in Reed City and see what employees create and distribute. The company manufactures parts that can be found in John Deere tractors, Briggs and Stratton lawn mowers, fire suppression supplies, appliances, military equipment and more.

"This visit is an awakening. It's an experience," said career center instructor Doug Ward. "You can't put this into a book. Although we have some equipment, we don't have this type of manufacturing equipment at the school. Here, the students can see first-hand how everything works."

Field trips such as the tour of the plant are beneficial to the students, Ward added, because each individual learns how to incorporate their experiences and new knowledge into the class and projects they complete throughout the year.

In addition to a tour, questions were answered by the company's co-owner Tim Halladay, who told students they can enter the workforce in a company like H&R, make decent money and work their way up to a high position instead of going to college, if that is the path they are considering.

"It feels great for us to have them here and we enjoy doing the tours," Halladay said. "It's exciting to see their response. They

seem genuinely interested."

Big Rapids High School student Chase Raglin, 17, enjoyed the visit. He plans on attending Western Michigan University for aerospace engineering after he graduates from high school, he appreciates seeing the manufacturing process happen.

"It's really cool to see the machines we see in textbooks in person and see people using them," Raglin said. "Seeing this operation helps you understand the steps it takes to create a part, how hard it is and what really goes into it."

With a clean, bright and safe plant environment, the tour also helped break the negative stereotype he believed about plant working conditions, he said.

"This company breaks the idea of the dark, dirty, underground factory," Raglin added.

H&R Screw Machine Products strives to be increasingly environmentally friendly and employs 45 individuals. Halladay hopes the manufacturing company tour helped inspire at least a few students to consider going into such a career.

"We need the new generation because we're not going to be around forever, and it's good to see the enthusiasm," he said. "Manufacturing Day helps us gain ground and spread the word about the company and workforce, while it helps them gain learning outside of the classroom."

Ward said the students' response to the tour was positive, with many discussing the trip during the bus ride back to the career center.

"I've heard great feedback from the students," he said. "They didn't know the company was a world-wide supplier of parts and they seem really surprised at the different products made right in their back yard."