Pictured above: 2019 Manufacturing Champions (from left to right): Bryan Van Vliet, Robb Engle, Sonja Brown and Meghan Taylor
Each year the Council of Industry, the manufacturing association of the Hudson Valley, recognizes the individuals and organizations, who through vision, dedication, hard work, and tireless involvement have helped to overcome some of the many obstacles faced by manufacturers in the Hudson Valley community making it possible for manufacturers and their employees to prosper. On Friday, May 17th, the Council honored the 2019 Manufacturing Champions at a breakfast held at the Powelton Club in Newburgh, NY. The Council of Industry was proud to honor Meghan Taylor, Director of the Mid-Hudson Region at the Empire State Development Corporation for the public sector; Robb Engle, Vice President of Engineering at Sono-Tek Corporation for the private sector; Bryan Van Vliet, technology teacher at Saugerties High School as the educator champion; and the organizational award went to the Workforce Development Institute (WDI).
This is the twelfth year the Council of Industry has held the Manufacturing Champion Awards and several past Champions were in attendance at the sold-out event. In addition to manufacturers and associate members, students and officials from the Saugerties School district were on hand to celebrate Bryan Van Vliet, the educator champion. There was a record crowd of 190 attendees there to honor the award recipients. The crowd was moved by the speeches and enthusiasm of the champions, making it obvious as to why they were chosen.
The private sector champion, Meghan Taylor, was introduced by the Operations Manager of Middletown’s Pratt & Whitney Advanced Coating Technologies, John Yelle. Meghan has been responsible for guiding and managing ESD’s Mid-Hudson Regional Office and Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative within the seven County Region. She secures state investments that leverage significant private investment for a variety of projects that contribute to economic growth and job creation in the Mid-Hudson region. Meghan has paid particular attention to the Region’s manufacturers ensuring that advanced manufacturing is a priority industry for the REDC and working to bring resources to bear to assist their growth and expansion. Meghan has over a decade of leadership experience in economic development. Prior to joining ESD, she served as President of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation and Director of Business Attraction at the Orange County Partnership. Meghan holds a Master of Business Administration from Mount Saint Mary College and a Bachelor of Finance from SUNY Binghamton.
Steve Harshbarger, President of Sono-Tek Corporation introduced Robb Engle who accepted the private sector award. Robb created the Sono-Tek Service Department and led the development of key products in his leadership role of Sono-Tek’s engineering resources. Robb has recently been at the forefront of implanting an automated, software driven system that autonomously creates and prioritizes work orders for every workstation on the manufacturing floor. This system has increased the accuracy and efficiency of every work center by 10-20% and eliminated 10-20 hours per week of work order processing and another 20-40 hours per week of sales order product analysis. In addition, Robb has spent many years volunteering his time at SUNY New Paltz, Marlboro, and other local High schools and with the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy. Rob has been a mentor to the next generation workforce and helped guide many students on their path towards STEM careers.
The educator champion award was presented to Bryan Van Vliet by President of Elna Magnetics, Joe Ferraro. Bryan has developed programs for his technology students that are not only interesting and educational but prepare them for the future workforce. He has arranged plant tours at local manufacturing facilities, and he includes a diverse set of projects that vary from gardening to 3D printing to writing computer programs to control a trackless train. He has also coached teams in VEX robotics and SeaPerch at both junior and senior high levels. This is his fourth year teaching at Saugerties Junior-Senior High School, and he currently teaches Tech 8, Advanced Manufacturing & 3D Printing, and Computer Aided Design. Bryan’s two high school classes are offered through SUNY Ulster (he is a Collegian Instructor) where students receive up to nine college credits for CAD 101, 102 and 103.
The Workforce Development Institute is the organization champion for their work in identifying targeted strategies that address workforce development opportunities and challenges. These strategies can include partnerships, training and/or funding. Their strength is their ability to identify trends, quickly fill gaps not covered by other programs, and then move successful programs throughout the state. Manufacturing companies are retooling/retrenching and making investments in product innovation, equipment, facilities, and the workforce. WDI believes a healthy manufacturing base is a key driver to grow the rest of the economy and they’re interested in seeing the new jobs of manufacturing – with solid wages and career trajectories – come to NYS. That award was presented by Council of Industry President Harold King.
This event was made possible by generous sponsorships from Central Hudson; Global Foundries; The Chazen Companies; Viking Industries; The Affinity Group; Elna Magnetics; and Allendale Machinery Systems. The next event on the Council calendar is our Annual Golf Outing on August 26 which will also be held at the Powelton Club. For details or to become a sponsor go to www.councilofindustry.org/event-seminar/golf-outing/
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