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Local manufacturing firms get attention at EASTEC

Date: 5/15/2015

WEST SPRINGFIELD – The buildings at the Eastern States Exposition were filled with the sounds of modern manufacturing as machines demonstrated cutting and grinding operations, among many other functions, at the 2015 EASTEC.

The trade show, which is conducted every two years, expanded into five buildings this year and was expected to attract 12,000 visitors from the manufacturing sector over its three day run from May 12 through May 14.

Local exhibits included companies from Springfield, Agawam, Westfield, Turners Falls, West Springfield, Chicopee, East Longmeadow and Hampden.

According to material supplied by Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the organization that stages EASTEC, there are more than 7,700 manufacturing firms in the Commonwealth generating more than $43 billion in annual revenue. The trade show is expected to be the platform for 330 manufacturing products.

State Sen. Eric Lesser opened EASTEC speaking on the role of manufacturing in Massachusetts and the efforts by state government to help it grow. Lesser is the senate chair of the Joint Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.

Lesser noted the role manufacturing has made in shaping Western Massachusetts and said the United States Armory helped to create a 200 mile “industrial corridor.”

He said, “Any strategy that looked at building and expanding the middle class has to look at manufacturing.”

Lesser said that within the next decade there will be 44,000 vacant positions in manufacturing in the Commonwealth and state official must work with the private sector to prepare a workforce for those jobs.

For him the key legislative priority is closing the skills gap that exists in Massachusetts. He sees joint efforts between government, schools and manufacturing such as the Massachusetts Manufacturing Collaborative as the vehicles to address “the essential challenge.”

He noted the demand for education for manufacturing jobs has resulted in over-enrollment at schools such as Putnam Vocational Technical Academy and the manufacturing program at Springfield Technical Community College.  

“Making things is the ticket for the middle class life,” Lesser said.

“Making things” or specifically having the tools to make things is the reason for EASTEC. Tony Slater, the technical sales manager for Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, was busy demonstrating the electron beam welding technology made by this company.

The British-based firm has its American office in Agawam from which sales and service to the American market are offered. The welding technology is used in the automotive field and his next tradeshow appearance was one for the nuclear industry.

Mark Barowsky, president of American Systems and Equipment Corp. of Springfield, offers a variety of cutting and grinding machines and his booth was dominated by several of the large units imported from Japan. He said that appearing at EASTEC “gives us the opportunity for people to see us, to make a presence.” He added his business is on an upswing.

Ken White, a sales representative for Springfield-based Charles C. Lewis Co. said the company is the “first step” in many manufacturing process, cutting and machining steel plate for other shops. He called EASTEC “a valuable show” as it allows the company to generate sales leads and bring in new customers.

Sam O’Connor, the technical sales director for NEXAS America of Hampden, said business has been good for the software company.

“We’re swamped,” he said.

The company, founded four years ago, sells software that allows companies to monitor computer drive machines. Manufacturers can use mobile devices to watch a machine or get text messages or emails through the software about an operation.