The Art of Making Things


The Art of Making Things

This issue of Arkansas Business has been months in the making because on-site visits to seven different manufacturing plants around the state (plus the Big River Steel plant construction that we featured in our last issue) cannot be pulled off in a week.

The openness of these manufacturers allowed us to give our readers insight into the sector, including:

This is an Opinion

We'd also like to hear yours. Leave a comment below, tweet to us at @ArkBusiness or
email us.

  • Today’s manufacturing facilities, at least those we visited, are clean and orderly. They have to be. The Nestlé plant in Jonesboro, for example, produces frozen foods, and good plant hygiene is vital.
  • Manufacturing jobs aren’t necessarily physically taxing, and computer and the so-called soft skills — reasoning, cooperation, work ethic — are essential. Jim Draper, president of Pro Window & Door of Little Rock, says the ability to see defects is one of the greatest skills his workers can have, “because we can’t produce a window that has a defect in it. That’s a service call. That’s a warranty.”
  • Manufacturing work can pay well. An employee at Cooper Tire can make more than $60,000 annually just five years after graduating from high school.
  • Wal-Mart’s $250 billion effort to buy U.S.-made goods, discussed in this week’s Executive Q&A with Cindi Marsiglio, is timely. “Overseas labor costs are rising while energy costs in the U.S. are low,” she says. “It just makes sense to build things closer to the point of consumption.”

Manufacturing in the U.S. may never again reach the heights of the postwar era, but it remains essential to the economic well-being of Arkansas and her people.

In Memoriam

The death in August of John Correnti, the man behind the construction of Big River Steel in northeast Arkansas, was a loss to many, but we’re pleased to see his vision being carried forward. His affection for this state — Blytheville became his final resting place — was genuine.