Interview with Lear Corporation’s Roscommon Facility Plant Manager Vern Manning
The effect of manufacturing can vary from town to town, but every community’s story is impacted by the companies and employees who call it home. At the same time, the values and economic success of a business can be closely tied to its surrounding community. For the last 20 years, the stories of the Roscommon community and Lear Corporation have been intertwined — and both have thrived.
“I love the Roscommon community — it’s a diverse town filled with people who have such pride in their work. As much as Lear has made its mark on Roscommon, I’d have to say that the people of Roscommon have made an equal mark on Lear,” says Vern Manning, plant manager for Lear Corporation’s Roscommon location.
With its products on more than 400 vehicle nameplates, manufactured by approximately 150,000 employees across 37 countries and ranking #154 on the Fortune 500, Lear has the global presence of a large corporation yet continues to reflect the values of the many small communities like Roscommon which house its many facilities.
“Manufacturing is still all about small communities and the local facilities that populate Michigan and other locations around the world,” reflects Manning. “Successful manufacturers are always looking to connect with the community. They invest locally, hire locally, and seek long-term relationships with local educators, businesses and leaders.”
Since 2009, Lear has invested more than $22 million in the Roscommon plant. These efforts have allowed for facility improvements, the purchase of new equipment, the development of internships and apprenticeships, and more than a 330 percent increase in jobs.
“Roscommon is responsible for stamping, welding, autophoretic painting and assembly utilizing unique, cutting-edge technologies like in-die extrusion and tapping and robotic laser welding,” says Manning. “Ours was the first Lear location to use these high-tech methods and we’re continuing to develop new, innovative manufacturing processes.”
As the acquisition of talent becomes more difficult, these high-tech offerings provide job seekers a reason to seriously consider a career in manufacturing.
“Matt Simoncini, Lear’s president & CEO, always says ‘our greatest asset and our competitive advantage is our people’ and that’s the truth,” Manning says.
Lear works with the Michigan Works! program, recruits at the local and county level, and has developed a DOL-accredited apprenticeship program to help prepare workers for where the industry is heading.
“I’m really excited about Lear’s current direction,” says Manning. “A lot of that is because of where we are and who we employ. The story of Lear and Roscommon is far from over — our most exciting chapters are still waiting to be written. Who knows what the next 20, 50 or 100 years will bring.”
This article appeared in the May 2017 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.