Lionville’s USSC Group adapt­ing to the times

USSC Group in Lionville says man­u­fac­tur­ers in the re­gion can thrive by adapt­ing to the times

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian McCul­lough bm­c­cul­lough@dailylocal.com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter

“Man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy is the most ex­cit­ing sec­tor in the next gen­er­a­tion’s work­force.” – Frank Rzeznikiewicz, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at USSC

A town­ship maker of seats for pub­lic trans­porta­tion and the mil­i­tary is tak­ing the lead this week in try­ing to at­tract mil­len­ni­als in the re­gion into the man­u­fac­tur­ing field.

USSC Group will open its doors to the pub­lic on Fri­day and hopes to con­vince some vis­i­tors that man­u­fac­tur­ing has changed for the bet­ter — and is a vi­able ca­reer op­tion.

It is part of “Man­u­fac­tur­ing Day” — an an­nual na­tional event ob­served at thou­sands of man­u­fac­tur­ers hop­ing to show po­ten­tial work­ers a sleek, tech­nol­ogy-driven in­dus­try.

“Man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy is the most ex­cit­ing sec­tor in the next gen­er­a­tion’s work­force,” said Frank Rzeznikiewicz, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at USSC. “The de­mand for skilled la­bor, en­gi­neers, pro­gram­mers, and op­er­a­tions man­age­ment is in high de­mand and all fore­casts in­di­cate phe­nom­e­nal growth. Salaries within these ar­eas are also pre­dicted to out­pace all other ca­reer paths. Join­ing the new in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion is a guar­an­tee to a suc­cess­ful fu­ture.”

Rzeznikiewicz started at USSC in Fe­bru­ary and is in the process of tran­si­tion­ing the op­er­a­tion from a tra­di­tional fac­tory to one where lean man­u­fac­tur­ing is prac­ticed.

“You can’t get kids to come into a dirty man­u­fac­tur­ing plant,” said the man­u­fac­tur­ing booster who has worked in the in­dus­try for 42 years. “This will be to­tally lean and clean” when the tran­si­tion is com­plete next year.

Pri­vately held, USSC Group is head­quar­tered on Gor­don Drive, has 112 em­ploy­ees work­ing there and has 12 lo­ca­tions through­out the world. It has four lines: pub­lic tran­sit seat­ing, in which it de­signs and

makes heavy duty pas­sen­ger seats for city bus, mo­tor coach and rail mar­kets; op­er­a­tor seat­ing, in which it pro­vides seat­ing for the ex­treme and heavy-duty trans­porta­tion mar­kets; mil­i­tary seat­ing, in which it de­vel­ops and man­u­fac­tures high tech­nol­ogy, high strength mil­i­tary seat­ing and re­straint sys­tems; and FMNA, which makes en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly wa­ter mist fire sup­pres­sion sys­tems for engine com­part­ments and en­closed spa­ces.

Rzeznikiewicz ac­knowl­edged man­u­fac­tur­ing is of­ten not a ca­reer con­sid­er­a­tion for to­day’s stu­dents but said that is be­cause they be­lieve the in­dus­try is dead in the U.S. Com­pa­nies like his, mean­while, have trou­ble find­ing peo­ple with the ba­sic math skills and blueprint read­ing abil­i­ties re­quired in to­day’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, he said.

USSC pro­vides hands-on train­ing in lean man­u­fac­tur­ing and col­lege tu­ition re­im­burse­ments. The com­pany wants work­ers who are cross-trained in a num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ing skills and who are “self di­rected” so they can man­age them­selves, Rzeznikiewicz said. Chang­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing at­mos­phere isn’t just a move to at­tract tal­ent, the COO said. U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ers to­day need to be nim­ble in or­der to sur­vive.

“You can no longer take five weeks to build a seat,” he said. “You have to be able to do it in a week. We can do it in half the time as our com­pe­ti­tion.”

Na­tion­ally, there is a short­age of welders and ma­chin­ists.

Much of the work of ma­chin­ists is now done via com­put­er­ized ma­chines, mean­ing most of to­day’s younger work­ers don’t know the craft when cus­tom work is needed, said Fa­cil­i­ties Man­ager Jim McGough.

“You can­not find a true ma­chin­ist” who is not at, near or above re­tire­ment age, McGough lamented. “That’s scary.”

It is a sit­u­a­tion the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil hopes to ad­dress with stu­dents in the area. Last year, high school stu­dents made videos of man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in the area in a “What’s So Cool About Man­u­fac­tur­ing” con­test.

This year, the com­pe­ti­tion is be­ing moved down to the mid­dle school level, said Mary­beth DiVin­cenzo, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of the coun­cil.

Thir­teen mid­dle schools will take part this year.

“Get them early,” is the phi­los­o­phy, DiVin­cenzo said. “The goal is to get the kids in­ter­ested in man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

Those in­ter­ested can visit USSC on Fri­day from 8 a.m. to noon. For more in­for­ma­tion on the com­pany visit www. uss­c­group.com.

Visit www.dailylocal.com to view a photo gallery of USSC Group’s Lionville op­er­a­tion.

To con­tact Busi­ness Ed­i­tor Brian McCul­lough, call 610-235-2655 or send an email to bm­c­cul­lough@dailylocal.com.

PHO­TOS BY PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Deanna Erd­man, mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, holds a cus­tom de­signed seat cover at the USSC Group in Lionville, which man­u­fac­tures cus­tom seats for buses, firetrucks and the mil­i­tary.

Frank Rzeznikiewicz, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of USSC Group in Lionville, shows off a firetruck seat the com­pany man­u­fac­tures.

Bob Robin­son per­forms milling work at USSC Group in Lionville, which man­u­fac­tures cus­tom seats for buses, firetrucks and the mil­i­tary.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ka­reem Smith as­sem­bles an air ride seat at USSC Group in Lionville.

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