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Manufacturing Matters to America and to Me

John W. Lloyd, MANTEC President and CEO, is featured on the Central Penn Business Journal Insights.

“Once a manufacturer, always a manufacturer,” I have learned. For the last 14 years, I have proudly served the manufacturers of south-central Pennsylvania as the president of MANTEC.

But before I accepted this great job working with and for manufacturers, I worked for 24 years as a manufacturer. I was an owner and leader of ENCON Corporation, a manufacturer of electric heating elements based in northeast Pennsylvania. I loved the challenge and helped grow the company from a startup to a 250-person firm. In 1998, we sold the business to a competitor who was eager to acquire technology and patents we had developed.

In ways I still discover now, my years as a manufacturer shaped who I am, how I think and even sometimes how I feel.

I am often on the road driving through our beautiful state. I enjoy the farms, mountains, rivers and city skylines. But I also look for the big, well-known plants and the smaller shops. I’ll try to catch a sign or some other clue as to what they make there. I already know what happens there: Good people combine their skills with discipline to make something of value — a product that will satisfy a buyer somewhere in the marketplace of the world. The fundamentals are the same: Raw materials are transformed and wealth is created.

The stamp of my calling is also there in my daily life at home. I seem to be incapable of using or simply handling something without trying to think through how it was made. I am a generalist so I know something about most processes, if not all the details. I like imagining the carefully planned and executed steps that produced each component of a complex good — my car, my tractor, our dishwasher — and I try to envision the many distinct enterprises in the supply chains that were orchestrated to create the product. Sure, the tracks of those chains have become much more complex in my professional lifetime.

Thinking as a manufacturer means confronting the complexities of trade and national and regional advantage. Our MANTEC clients cope with these every week. In the coming months, I will tackle some issues facing manufacturers and showcase companies that are taking action.

Whether I’m at work, on the road or at home, I’m still a manufacturing guy. That’s the way I am made — head and heart.

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