Weather Forecast


Building a case for manufacturing

Aside from working to add more tours and more members this year, the Red Wing Manufacturers Association is working to spread interest in manufacturing to a younger generation.

One of the big projects for the association is its involvement in Project Lead the Way, said Sharon McCord, new secretary and treasurer for the association.

McCord is taking over for Judy Hines, who was the secretary and treasurer for 16 years.

Project Lead the Way is a way for the students to gain a better understanding of manufacturing, McCord said.

“It’s a way to get our young generation interested in manufacturing,” she said.

Project Lead the Way is a U.S. non-profit organization that develops and disseminates curriculum for schools in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Sonya McNamara, director of School Engagement for Project Lead the Way, spoke to the Red Wing Manufacturers Association last spring about how the organization can be involved.

McNamara said association members were curious as to the best ways to get students interested in enrolling in classes in Project Lead the Way because those students are the future workforce.

Twin Bluff Middle School and Red Wing High School both have Project Lead the Way programs. All of the sessions are age appropriate, McNamara said.

“What we want to do is excite the kids,” she said. One way for the Red Wing Manufacturers Association to aid in the excitement is to get members in the classrooms, talking about what they do.

The Red Wing Manufacturers Association is working to understand the subtleties of the program and trying to learn the best way for them to supplement the program, McCord said.

Future meetings

Red Wing Manufacturers Association generally meets once a month September through June. Future dates and topics are:

Oct. 21 – Manufacturer’s Appreciation Luncheon, Minnesota’s Manufacturing Week

Nov. 18 – The Warehouse Tax Issue - by Steve Lawrence & Erik Lawrence, Lawrence Transportation Co.

Dec. 16 and 19 – Tours at the Bergquist Co. (group size limited to 20 daily)

Jan. 13 – Project Lead the Way/STEM at Red Wing High School

For more information, contact President Vikcy Koehn at or Secretary/treasurer Sharon McCord at; 651.301.1904.

New members McCord said she has seen an influx in the number of new members in the last few years and the topics covered in meetings have played a part in attracting some of those new members.

Eight new members have joined the association in the past year: Automated Equipment LLC, Manpower, American Thermal Imaging, Ayars and Ayars, Inc., Amesbury Extruded Products, the Bergquist Company, ProAct and Red Wing Software.

New members are beginning to come from outside Red Wing as well, McCord said, with businesses from Cannon Falls, Lake City, and one business from Lakeville joining the group.

At last count she said 36 businesses belong to the organization.

After being a part of the Red Wing Manufacturers Association herself for 13 years, McCord said she has realized how important it is for everyone to pull together and share resources.

She said the Red Wing Manufacturers Association is about networking and learning from different leaders. The association tries to make everything they do beneficial for their members, she said.

The Red Wing Manufacturers Association’s first meeting of the season was Sept. 16 when members tour of Capital Safety.

The Manufacturers Appreciation Luncheon is coming up Oct. 21, during Minnesota’s Manufacturing Week.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


(651) 301-7876