A Day at TLX Technologies - Manufacturing Month Tour

The power was unrelenting. Exhaust pipes bellowed distain at the compressed brake pedal, goading the driver to shift his foot slightly to the right - he relented. Tires frantically grasped for traction, desperately searching for any ounce of asphalt with which to feed the 460 horse-power motor's voracious appetite for acceleration. His head slammed into the matte-black leather seats as rubber finally embraced road. He clung to the steering wheel, a rag-doll piloting a rhinoceros through the streets of Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

“Okay guys, eyes up here. We need to take your picture with the cars.”

The directive shattered the high-school senior’s day-dream. He reluctantly wrestled his eyes from the stationary Corvette’s carefully crafted curves and peered back towards reality. He was not driving a dream-car, he was on field trip; a tour of TLX Technologies for Wisconsin’s manufacturing month. However, the car served its purpose, he wanted to know how he could get one. TLX had the answer.

In order to actually afford what you desire to attain, a black 2014 Corvette, a Harley-Davidson or EBR sport bike (both motorcycles were also on display), you need to have a stable, upwardly-mobile career. High schoolers, like the boy from Burlington, have been led to believe that disposable income is reserved for the white collar worker. The goal of the field trip, of TLX Technologies’ factory tour, of the entire manufacturing month, is to show the youth of Wisconsin that you don’t need a law or medical degree to be successful.

TLX Technologies, a manufacturer of custom solenoids for companies like Chevrolet and Harley Davidson, is built by individuals who excel at traditionally “blue collar” jobs.

“Manufacturing has changed a lot in the past 10-15 years; it’s not dirty and there’s technology involved in everything we do,” said TLX Technologies’ Controller Kat Goetz. “Assembly workers and engineers can start here and grow into six-figure careers.”

Despite the pay and ever-improving working conditions, young people still remain hesitant to enter manufacturing careers. According to PEW Charitable Trusts - "Selling Manufacturing to a New Generation”, 600,000 manufacturing jobs are available because employers cannot find skilled workers. “It takes me six months to find an engineer,” said Goetz, “a year to find a salesperson.”

The dearth of qualified candidates is another driving factor behind Wisconsin’s Manufacturing Month. US manufacturing growth reached record highs this summer, and, if growth persists, the pool of qualified candidates will get stretched thinner and thinner.

“If just one or two of these 300 kids get interested in manufacturing, and commit to a career, the event [factory tour] will be completely worth it,” said TLX Technologies’ President Neil Karolek.

After several hasty pictures and a few pleasantries, the Burlington high school’s tour concluded. Handprints now adorned the Corvette’s previously pristine high-gloss finish, a reminded of the boy’s brief venture into his petrol fantasy. Hopefully his experience at TLX Technologies taught him that, just because you choose a career where you work on the car of your dreams, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to afford it.

Wisconsin: Leading the Future in Manufacturing - An infographic from the team at TLX Technologies