Insight on Manufacturing

November 2020

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24 | /INSIGHT ON MANUFACTURING • November 2020 w w s i g h t o n m f g . c o m A S T H E S A Y I N G G O E S , a rising tide lifts all boats, and the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance launched 10 years ago on that very premise. In 2010, shipbuilders Fincantieri Marinette Marine and Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, yacht makers Cruiser Yachts and Marquis Yachts, and boat builder Burger Boat faced a shared problem: attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. Though the companies competed with one another, whether for workers or market share, they decided to come together to pursue solutions that would benefit all. The businesses began with reaching out to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to develop curriculum specific to the marine industry. From there, NWTC President Jeff Rafn devised the idea of creating an alliance that would go beyond Milestone moment North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance celebrates 10 years BY JESSICA THIEL F E AT U R E developing curriculum and a short-term solution and instead build a long-term partnership. The alliance was modeled on the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, which had already built a successful track record. "Having an organization to promote that specific sector is really important," says NEWMA Executive Director Ann Franz, who also oversees the NCMMA. Like NEWMA, the NCMMA focuses on workforce, but unlike NEWMA, it also includes a supply chain focus. The marine organization created a supply chain task force, and each October it holds an Associate Member Expo in which companies that want to do business with marine builders can set up one-on- one meetings. Franz says the outreach creates awareness about suppliers closer to businesses, and the scale of multiple companies joining together can create a chance for businesses to collaborate to purchase a large quantity of goods. As for workforce, Josh Delforge, senior vice president and general manager of Marquis Yachts in Pulaski, says it's the issue that made him and the company want to get involved with the alliance. In 2010, all companies in the industry were facing the same situation of an aging workforce. "Knowing that retirements were on the horizon, we needed to start generating a pool of workers that we could pull from that could come in and contribute," he says. The alliance has tackled the workforce issue with several efforts, including outreach to K-12 schools, partnerships with higher education and increasing awareness of the industry through involvement with events like the Tall Ships Festival, which is held every third summer in Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, most recently in 2019. The success of the latter, which features historic replica ships, surprised Franz. The multi-day event draws tens of thousands of visitors. In 2016 and 2019, the NCMMA scored a position at the entrance of the festival, where it could spotlight careers and shipbuilders as well as partner organizations, including the Einstein Project, NWTC and nonprofit organization Hands on Deck. "You just have no idea how many people you're really impacting with that number of people coming through," Franz says. The North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance plays a role in the Tall Ships Festival, which comes to Green Bay every three years. The event offers a chance for the alliance to educate people about the marine industry and its importance in the region. S A M P E R L M A N , D C M M

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