Today we’re chatting about all things manufacturing. We’ve been helping manufacturing companies with their marketing for over 15 years. Manufacturing is a vital part of our economy, but it’s often overlooked by job seekers and modern lead generation strategies. 

Meaghan Ziemba joins us in this episode to share how she is bringing awareness to the industry. Meaghan has been involved in the manufacturing industry for the last 15 years and recently launched a live broadcast combining women empowerment, brand storytelling, and personal journeys in the industry called Mavens of Manufacturing. 

Job opportunities are on the rise. Though there is a gap in skills. Diversifying the manufacturing industry is so important to prepare the industry for continued success. Ready to learn more? Join Jon, Evan, and Meaghan as they candidly talk about creative marketing to diversify the manufacturing industry. 

Resources Mentioned: 


Intro: You're listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast with Jon Ballard and Evan Facinger.

Evan Facinger: All right everybody, thank you for joining the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast, this one's an exciting one for us, we've been helping manufacturing companies with their marketing for over 15 years, and in the past few years at least there's been a real big shift towards not only marketing for leads, but also for potential employees. So today we have Meaghan Ziemba with us and she hosts a live broadcast called the Mavens of Manufacturing, which combines women empowerment, brand storytelling, and just the overall world of manufacturing, so excited to hear her story. Meaghan, welcome to the show.

Meaghan Ziemba: Hi, thanks for having me.

Evan Facinger: Tell us a bit about your story, how you got started with the Mavens of Manufacturing.

Meaghan Ziemba: I've been involved in manufacturing for the last 15 years. I started out with a trade publication in Madison, Wisconsin, and worked there for about seven and a half to eight years and just started writing out product descriptions and doing a lot of copy editing and copywriting, and then eventually I moved up and started doing interviews with different manufacturers and engineers and really getting the details of how things were made and designed. It really just helped me fall in love with the industry and I wanted to expand my horizons, so I left manufacturing and went into higher education and did a little marketing with a liberal arts college here in Beloit, Wisconsin, and just really missed manufacturing. So I decided to leave there and ended up working as a technical writer for a bearing company in Illinois, later made my way into a marketing agency in Rockford, Illinois, that focused on marketing for manufacturers who were involved in cutting tools, and then now I'm at a photochemical etching company called Fotofab in Chicago, Illinois, and I do technical writing for them.

Meaghan Ziemba: My passion has always been storytelling and writing and manufacturing, and I really miss just getting interviews with different people and having their stories being told and sharing the stories. One of the groups that I'm part of is called Women of Today's Manufacturing, and through that experience, I've met a lot of interesting women, a lot of powerful women, and just seeing the passion that they have towards the companies that they work for and differences that they're really making with their products with the rest of the world, just really touched a heartstring with me.

Meaghan Ziemba: So I was talking to a couple of my mentors and talking to some of my friends about this really cool idea that I had of just talking to all of these women, because as you know, being in manufacturing, there is a skills gap that we're facing and over the next five or 10 years we're expected to have over two million positions open and manufacturing because we just don't have enough people to fill those seats. There's also a gender gap in manufacturing, and manufacturing is a huge part of our economy and I think we have a really great opportunity now to be very competitive with the rest of the world.

Meaghan Ziemba: So I talked to a couple of my friends and a couple of my mentors about Mavens of Manufacturing and normally I'm one of those people that likes to plan everything out and be careful, but with the encouragement of my friends and mentors, they said, "Just pull the trigger, announce it, say that you're doing it and see what kind of response you get". So I decided in November that I was going to make the announcement and I'm already booked through February now with guests for the show, and I'm super excited about it. I think the last time that you and I talked I only had part of January booked, but now I have one or two more spots in February and I'll be booking more spots for March and the rest of the year.

Meaghan Ziemba: My main goals for the show are to not only bring awareness to manufacturing but US manufacturing. I really want to help provide a competitive edge from the rest of the world, because I think we have really great locations here in the United States, and there's just different kinds of manufacturing out there that I think we can excel at as a nation. I also want to bring awareness to the skills gap and the gender gap within the industry and help recruit more females to the industry, whether they're into problem-solving or actually using their hands to make products. I really want to start getting the attention of the younger generations and bringing them in because there have been studies out there that companies are actually more profitable when they diversify their employee group and their work cultures, and I think women just bring a different kind of thought process to manufacturing and engineering.

Meaghan Ziemba: I also wanted to provide a platform for brands out there just to really share their stories and that way just reaching a broader audience and then this way they can get more potential customers, or if they have any vacant spots open for employees, they can actually recruit really skilled and talented individuals to come work for their companies. So yeah, that's basically the story for Mavens of Manufacturing and we actually have our first episode this coming Friday, I'm really, really excited about it, and I still have interviews set up for more shows in the future where I'm scheduling out until February and March. So yeah, I just announced it, got a really good reaction from it, I'm super excited to get it started and yeah, I'm really glad that you guys had me on your podcast and we're talking about it right now, so thank you very much.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, you're welcome, thanks for coming. Everything you said was great and that's why we wanted to have you on the podcast to talk about what you're doing because it's important. I think you really nailed it, it's tough sometimes to be innovative and have great ideas when it's just all the same type of people in the room coming up with that, and being able to diversify, that skills gap, everything that you said is something that we hear quite a bit from the companies that we work with and try to help, so it's super relevant. Now, I know you said you've got your first episode coming up this Friday, and that's a live video interview format, right?

Meaghan Ziemba: Correct. It's kind of intense right now because we've been experiencing some technical difficulties during our trial run, so…

Evan Facinger: We're familiar with that. Just so everybody knows, it was a bit of a back and forth with getting this episode set up.

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can figure out all of them by today, I guess that's just part of it though. There's nothing like getting down to the final minute before you have to do something with technology, so we're experiencing quite a bit of difficulties with the platform that we're trying to get it on, but I'm confident that we're going to figure it out today and everything will run smoothly tomorrow. So yeah, I'm really excited, our first guest, her name is Bethany Mead, and she's from a company called CEANCI and it's basically a not-for-profit organization and they help students from elementary school up to high school pick tracks that are nontraditional career pathways or more traditional career pathways, but she is part of the WOTM and that's how I met her.

Meaghan Ziemba: She is actually a huge advocate trying to recruit not just women into manufacturing, but men as well, and she also works a lot with high school students too. So she has a lot of great information specifically to the Rockford area because that's where CEANCI is located at, but she has a lot of great information on different grants, assessment tests, job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships, so she'll be a huge resource for anyone that has questions on how to get into manufacturing, and also a huge resource for schools that may need help trying to plan out their curriculum for students that might want to focus on specific skill sets.

Evan Facinger: Oh, that's great. And I know that the big focal points of this show is women in manufacturing, but I'm assuming this is something that anybody can watch and listen to and get something out of it, right?

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the guests that I'm looking for, for the show, is just women, because I just think that it's time for us to not necessarily take the industry over, but I think we just need to up our numbers in the manufacturing industry, but yeah, anyone can watch the show and participate, and if they have any suggestions of people that I should reach out to or interview, I'm welcoming that. I want to interview not just C-suite level individuals, but I also want to interview students, I also want to interview shop floor workers, anyone really that's involved in manufacturing.

Meaghan Ziemba: There's a couple people that I would like to talk to in marketing as well, because there's so many opportunities that help make manufacturing successful. It's not just the people that are making things with their hands, but it's the people behind the scenes too, people that are in the marketing departments and trying to come up with a way to share their brands stories. It's not as easy as it may sound and I know this personally because I'm in marketing.

Meaghan Ziemba: I also want to talk to students and just get an idea of what got them attracted to manufacturing and what sort of career pathway they're hoping to either walk down or achieve or accomplish through the studies that they're doing. And to that point there, Hononegah High School in Illinois, one of the teachers just invited me to come along and look at some of the courses that they're offering that is specific to manufacturing. So yeah, any high school teachers that might be taking some sort of tracked that teaches those skills, those hands-on skills, I'd be interested in talking to them as well.

Evan Facinger: It sounds like you've got a lot going on and there's a lot of good interviews already lined up too, so I'm sure that there's going to be quite a bit of even additional content that you don't even have prepped right now coming in the next few months as you start to get more guests. Where can somebody go to find out more and see what the schedule is?

Meaghan Ziemba: Right now I have a LinkedIn page dedicated to Mavens of Manufacturing, so if you go onto LinkedIn and just type in the search bar, Mavens of Manufacturing, it should pop up. I currently do not have a website to provide anyone, but I will be sharing information on this month's lineup and next month's lineup, and I'll be creating those materials within the next couple of days. I did post something about Beth already, about her being the first guest this Friday, so LinkedIn is really the place to go. If you're on Facebook, that's my secondary platform right now, but as this hopefully gets bigger, I will at some point be creating a website. My initial thought process was just to focus on the video series and start getting guests and getting interest that way, so website was not top of mind, which is probably not of order, but you know.

Evan Facinger: Well, a website's good to have, the place to go that's your channel that you own of course, and we can link to your LinkedIn channel there so that we can have that in the show notes for everybody to come and take a look at. Now this is a live video format that you have, are you going to be able to have these available to watch for people that aren't able to catch it when they're going on?

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, absolutely. We have a YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe, subscribe, subscribe, subscribe, because right now we currently only have three subscribers, but I did not... In all of my efforts of promoting the show on LinkedIn, I did not make the mention that, "Hey, go to the YouTube channel and subscribe" so I'm doing that here today. I'm learning as I'm going, so that's fun, but yeah, please send out the YouTube channel. If you need the link, I can definitely send that to you after our conversation and that's something you can push out there too, but the platform that I'm using to live stream everything should automatically upload the recorded version of the video once it's done doing the live thing.

Evan Facinger: Perfect, and we'll make sure that that links in the show notes for everybody too, for YouTube. And I mean, this has been awesome, I'm excited to watch the videos, I'm excited to see this all unfold. Any lasting words of advice for anybody looking to get into the manufacturing industry?

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah. I mean, it is such a huge and diverse industry and I think when most people think of manufacturing they think of the greasy tool shops that are around, they might think that it's dull, dark, and dangerous, but there's so much more to it and there's so many cool innovations happening right now. It is such a great industry to get into. We're talking about robotics, 3D printing, things that they're doing with medical, like 3D printing live stem cells to make implants, there's different ways to test different products, there's also things that might be out of the ordinary when it comes to manufacturing, like textiles, clothing that needs to be robust and fireproof or waterproof because right now we're incorporating sensor technologies in the clothing.

Meaghan Ziemba: So I think when people are really considering a career pathway, manufacturing should be at the top of the list because there's just so much to do within manufacturing. Even if you don't like the hands-on stuff, if you just like to write about things, manufacturers are in need of technical writers and copywriters and copy editors and just storytellers that can help spread the word on their brands. So just keep an open mind, connect with groups such as Women in Manufacturing or Women of Today's Manufacturing, connect with those groups and see how you can get more involved within your communities, and visit your local manufacturers. Stop by their front door, most manufacturers are open to having tours, I don't know right now with the current COVID situation, but I know some have developed safe ways to still conduct tours in their facilities. Reach out to them, see if you can look at their technology, and talk about any internships or apprenticeships that they might be doing.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, that's a great point is that there's so many available jobs in manufacturing, at least available types of jobs in manufacturing that are doing some really exciting things, so keeping an open mind with that, doing the research, there's a lot of possibilities out there.

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, and I mean, they make good money too, so if you're a person that's driven by revenue there's a high need for welders right now, there's a high need for CNC machinists, they make really, really good money. And I mean we're struggling to fill those positions, especially now with all the baby boomers filtering out because they're getting close to retirement age, those positions are going to be open and there's going to be a lot of them within the next five to 10 years, so just take that into consideration.

Jon Ballard: Meaghan, you mentioned two million in the next five years, is that because of retirement or because there's going to be more job creation on shore here? What's your thoughts on that?

Meaghan Ziemba: The study that I was reading up on, most of the information is from The Manufacturing Institute, Apex, and Deloitte, that I've been reading up on, and most of the vacancies that are coming up and the reason why they're coming up so fast is because of the retirement age of most of the manufacturers that are in the industry now. But I feel like with advancements in technologies there's also going to be new kinds of positions that are going to be available, so like with robotics, there's going to be robotic maintenance positions available more and more now because more facilities are actually investing a lot of their budget into smart factories where all of their machines are connected and talking to one another. So I think it's a combination of people retiring and then just more opportunities that didn't exist before coming up out of the blue right now.

Meaghan Ziemba: So yeah, I think that's my opinion on why things are happening in the way that they are. The last couple of manufacturing companies that I worked at, a lot of their machinist and shop floor workers had three to five more years left because they were retiring. So it's a stable industry to work and I met people that have been in the industry for 30 plus years, so once those positions are open and available I would suggest grabbing them quickly because they're solid career pathways that you can work your entire lifetime.

Evan Facinger: Definitely, this is all great, appreciate everything that you've said. We'll make sure that all the show notes are linked and available, or all the links I should say are in the show notes so that everybody can take a look, see all the things that you have. This is going to be weekly, right, and the next few months are already planned out?

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, it's a weekly show, I'm only doing it for a half an hour to start out with because right now I'm just doing individual interviews. My goal is to get more panel type interviews going too, I did one with the WOTM last month or the month before where I had four guests on and we did an hour-long conversation, so hopefully, I can get to that point where I can invite a group of women to talk about a major issue that's going on in manufacturing, but right now as the schedule is, it's just individual interviews that are going to be a half an hour, and it's right around lunchtime, so people can sit down at their desk, eat their lunch and listen to the show.

Evan Facinger: Perfect. Well, thanks again for coming on our show. We're excited for yours and we'll make sure everybody listening to this podcast has all the information in the notes. So good luck with everything and we're looking forward to seeing it all unfold.

Meaghan Ziemba: Great. Thanks so much, Evan, thanks Jon.

Evan Facinger: Thanks Meaghan, bye.

Jon Ballard: Thanks Meaghan, have a great day.

Evan Facinger: Bye.

Meaghan Ziemba: Bye.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can stay on top of your game by never missing an episode. You can find even more marketing insights and show transcripts at foremostmedia.com.