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Costs and font size shut down a small CA manufacturer

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Nov. 20, 2015

More than 50 percent of California's manufacturers are small, with 10 employees or less. Small manufacturers are the pride of their communities, deeply valued for their economic support, for their job and advancement opportunities, and often for their innovation in creating specific niche products.

This is a story of a small manufacturer in Chico with 15 employees that is closing its doors after 40 years. CMTA met Woof & Poof's owner, Roger Hart, this year at a North State "Grow Manufacturing" event. As usual with small manufacturers we first heard about their deep concern for their employees who had worked there so long. We then heard about the company's arduous efforts to stay open because of a totality of California costs and an ongoing struggle with the state regarding tag font size on their decorative pillows.

This example should serve as one of many prompts for our state leaders to do everything they can to provide a competitve operating environment for manufacturers large and small. 

Here is the intro in the Chico News & Review and a link to their full article:

So long to a Chico institution

Woof & Poof owner announces décor manufacturer will be shutting its doors.

First it was the increase in employee health insurance costs. Then came the bump in California's minimum wage. Add in a seemingly nonsensical citation from the state's Department of Consumer Affairs and it became clear that the challenges were just too overwhelming for Woof & Poof, a 40-year-old Chico institution, to continue.

CEO and owner Roger Hart, his wife, Sabrina, and sister Linda Gonzalez took over ownership of Woof & Poof, which currently employs 15, 2 1/2 years ago after the passing of founder Jacki Headley in 2012. Headley started the business in 1975, and since then, Woof & Poof's stuffed Santas, decorative pillows and household décor have developed a fan-following with nationwide distribution in 600 stores ... READ FULL CHICO NEWS & REVIEW ARTICLE HERE

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One of the world's three 'sustainable manufacturing' degree programs is in California's backyard

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on May 9, 2013

Manufacturing got technical over the last few decades. It got harder. It's paying more. It's more innovative. It's "advanced", and In California it has to be tremendously efficient to compete. It must constantly improve and account for the end-of-life of its products.

California State University at Chico has answered the state's call by providing one of only three programs in the world that offers a four-year degree in "Sustainable Manufacturing". This program is in part filling a massive and growing California void of industrially trained students that can go from the production floor to management soon after graduating from college.

The Chico program has a whopping 100 percent job placement success rate and 15 percent of their graduates are women. The average initial pay is $54,000 and sometimes starts as high as $76,000.

No, these students don't often put on a tie and go look important in a cubicle. They have real knowledge and skills. They go on to make the highly innovative products that California has been famous for engineering and producing. They create solutions to real-world problems and tend to the evolution of those solutions within companies with lots of employees. They often end up in high managerial positions for extremely successful manufacturers.

Specifically the "Sustainable Manufacturing" program at Chico is an integrated field of study that combines technical feasibility with environmental responsibility and economic viability. You might think the word "sustainable" is just another packaging of the buzz term "green" but it's not. The degree focuses on making sure the students understand business viability for the manufacturing of a product. That means keeping the business operating, growing and competitive, as well as focusing on successful end-of-life dynamics for a product. The program is both lecture-based as well as hands-on in laboratories with industrial grade machinery.

The leader of the program, Daren Otten said, "with this program we are addressing California manufacturing workforce needs with technically educated Californians who understand the challenges and opportunities associated with doing business in the state."

While Chico is doing great things, the shortage of hands-on education in California is systemic at the University level and even more importantly at the high school level. Less than 30 percent of our high school students ever get to take a hands-on course. Exposure to these skills and real-world learning in the teen years could drive a larger movement of success and interest among our future workers and provide colleges like Chico with students who are willing to dive into the opportunities that manufacturing provides. If more universities offered programs like the one at Chico, our high-wage manufacturers would have access to a larger pool of talent to grow their efficient production facilities in California.

CMTA tips its collective hat to Cal State Chico in developing a program that could be the leading edge of future manufacturing training programs.

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