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Bill Hilbert Jr.

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In honor of national Manufacturing Day, the Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) in conjunction with the Erie Regional Manufacturer Partnership, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and Career Street, among others, have planned two days of events — October 1 and 2 — to give everyone a way to celebrate and learn more about the backbone of our economy. Here, Bill Hilbert Jr., chairman of the MBA’s Board of Governors and president of Reddog Industries, explains the importance of MFG DAY with the Business Magazine.

The Association has actively supported manufacturers in the Erie region since 1905. Why is it important for the Association to support a formal Manufacturing Day event and Summit this year?
Our MBA Board, as well as our Executive Committee and staff, are always focused on how best to provide value-added service to our membership. Organizing an event like Manufacturing Day is exactly what we feel benefits our membership by highlighting the significant role both manufacturers and businesses play in the local economy and the career opportunities within these companies. MFG DAY is designed to educate the community and future generations about what manufacturing is, and to improve the perception of the manufacturing industry in an effort to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and close the skills gap.

You are a longtime Erie manufacturer. What does manufacturing mean to you?
As a member of a family owned manufacturing business, I have been fully entrenched in the tooling industry for more than 30 years. Manufacturing is my life; it consumes you after a few years and creates a drive to succeed that is hard to explain. I learned the basics in high school and college, but the really important things are learned through the school of hard knocks — many of those lessons taught to me by my father, Bill Sr.

The manufacturing business is extremely competitive and forces you into a mode of continuous improvement in all you do and in every decision you make. Whether it’s what machine to buy next or how to improve the employee benefit package, it challenges you to consider carefully every move. One thing I try never to forget is that even the most hightech manufacturing environment cannot run without quality staffing; our people make us who we are today, and they will always be our most valuable resource.