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Manufacturing Industry Call Highlights Innovation Among Crisis

Posted by: Monica Poe on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Last week the Chamber hosted an Industry Call with area leaders representing the manufacturing industry on how they're adapting their businesses in response to the economic impact of COVID-19 and what they're experiencing. The session was moderated by Jason Cox of Cox Machine and panelists included Ron Garcia of BG Products and Kathy Jewett of XLT Ovens. The call drew over 40 Chamber and Wichita Manufacturing Association (WMA) member attendees.

Many manufacturers were deemed essential during stay-at-home orders including the three panelists from our call. This means they have been learning and adapting real-time. During the call the panel shared valuable insight about safety measures they have taken, how to work with employees who are present in the workplace/working from home and current trends that they are seeing. 

Kyle Blasdel, Vice President of Business Development & FPG of Conco Construction and the current president of (WMA), was an attendee and shared his takeaways with us.

What are your top three takeaways from the call?

  • We often lump manufacturing in a large, singular group. What I continue to be fascinated by is the diversity of industries represented in our manufacturing community. On the industry call there was a restaurant equipment manufacturer, aerospace manufacturer and a solvent/chemical manufacturer. Each company is handling the virus and their response differently because what they do is unique. While they all produce a product the way in which they go about doing that is different. There are no silver bullets.

  • I was thankful to hear that those who were able took advantage of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The initial roll out was challenging but it appears many manufacturers were able to apply for and receive funds.

  • The industry continues to move forward. The manufacturing community is strong and will continue to overcome challenges to keep producing for clients and our communities. Wichita is heavily reliant on manufacturing jobs and the leaders in our industry play a pivotal role in elevating Wichita’s status in our nation. Finding new and innovative ways to get product to market speaks strongly for the talent of our workforce and our leaders.

Was there anything from this call that you think was helpful in your role as WMA's current president?

I was thankful to hear what was on the minds of our manufacturers. The WMA will continue to work at connecting manufacturers, supporting our industry and being a vocal proponent of our talents and capabilities. Hearing directly from a focused group of leading manufacturers was helpful.

Our thanks to these manufacturing Chamber members for their valuable insight. The Chamber will be hosting more Industry Calls in the future and Chelsea Dyer, Manager of Engagement welcomes your programming suggestions. You can reach her at cdyer@wichitachamber.org.

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