Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive October 2015 Show 1540 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1540

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1540

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we examine two of Oklahoma’s bedrock industries: manufacturing and construction.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1540

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1540

For more information visit these links:

Gordon Cooper Technology Center


CareerTech - SkillsUSA

AGC of Oklahoma

AGC of America



Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance

CareerTech - OBAN

Red River Technology Center

Show Details

Show 1540: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: October 4, 2015



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well, over the last 20 years, the emphasis in most schools is to round up every warm body and send it to college, then off to the cubicle to become a knowledge worker. But as this new information economy has evolved, increasingly we are finding we need people who can do things like build our homes, pave our roads and manufacture the machinery that does it all. Today, our focus is on two industries that are often overlooked, yet we’re completely dependent upon: manufacturing and construction. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Rob McClendon.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, for anyone who feels ill-suited to sit in an office all day, or even more likely a cubicle, today our focus is on an alternative – two of them to be exact: construction and manufacturing. Two industries that have much in common – to begin with, both industries pay above average wages, yet both struggle finding the workforce they need, often suffering from a simple misconception that working with your hands means somehow not working with your mind. And that could not be further from the truth. We begin today with an industry that is literally all around us and searching for skilled workers. And our Austin Moore introduces us to one of them.

Austin Moore: A lot has happened to Kelcy Hunter since she was a student at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

[Sawing noise].

Kelcy Hunter: I’m actually a carpenter cross-trained in plumbing. So I’m a framer, and then I do all the plumbing work.

Moore: As a member of SkillsUSA, Hunter and her teammates were then competing to show their mastery of all aspects of the construction trades and holding their heads high as an all-female team.

Let’s make it flat against the board.

Moore: Today, Kelcy’s enthusiasm for the construction industry has only grown.

Hunter: People don’t realize that there’s so much that goes on before a project even mobilizes to the job site.

Moore: Kelcy is a project engineer for Nabholz Construction. We caught up with her along with Project Executive Paul Boren and Project Manager Jonathan Lowery at the site of a new Oklahoma City high school.

Paul Boren: On a project this size, we have a lot of subcontractors that need to be coordinated with, that need to be managed. And for every subcontractor there’s a lot of work that has to be accomplished prior to them even stepping foot on the job. Making sure that when they show up on the job site, that they have the appropriate materials and manpower to achieve the activities they need to achieve.

Jonathan Lowery: Putting the budget together, putting the estimate together, working with the owner to make sure that we’re meeting their expectations, the front-end preliminary schedules.

Moore: Part in the office and part in the field. This is detailed work often unappreciated by the end users of the building, yet something they would certainly notice if it were not done right.

Hunter: If things are delivered to the job site that didn’t get approved and aren’t in the contract documents, that is my responsibility. I’m supposed to make sure that everything conforms to the contract documents because it’s written in the spec and in the drawings for a reason.

Moore: As a project engineer, Kelcy is in training to become a project manager as she builds on her experience.

Boren: Well, in today’s market, what we’re finding is there’s huge competition in the market for qualified people in construction. Not just the people in the field, but also people in the office that manage the projects.

Moore: That shortage of experienced professionals is leaving the door open for newcomers with the right training.

Boren: Anybody who comes into this industry from, at a young age, is going to struggle with not having experience. And it’s just the fact that they haven’t been out in the field, they haven’t seen the products being installed and how they’re installed, and what CareerTech and SkillsUSA offer the students is some early experience in the construction process.

Lowery: It gives them a more well-rounded view of construction. It’s not just paperwork at that point. They understand what’s involved, the physical portion of it.

Hunter: The impact of the TeamWorks Competition was very vital to what, how I operate my position today because I work with a team. And basically we sat in front of an owner, and we told them how are we gonna build this thing in 16 hours. And how are you gonna do it safely? How are you gonna do it according to the drawings? How are you gonna do it? And those are real questions that owners in commercial construction want to know.

Moore: Something Kelcy knows firsthand now that she’s laying the foundation of her own career.

Rob: So what other types of opportunities does the construction industry offer? My first guest has that answer and more when we return.

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Well, Oklahoma’s construction industry does more than just build our roads, offices and homes. It builds our economy. And no one knows that more than our first guest today, Doug Tapp with the Association of General Contractors of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Well, first of all, what does your group do, Doug?

Doug Tapp: We are one of 95 chapters of the AGC nationally. We have three chapters in Oklahoma. And what our chapter, the building chapter does, is we represent about 240 commercial contracting, general contractors, construction managers, especially contractors, service providers, suppliers, etc., all through the state of Oklahoma.

Rob: Now, we just met this young lady that’s very excited about being in the industry. How is the industry doing as a whole?

Tapp: Oklahoma’s industry is good. We haven’t seen any downturn from, you know, the discounted crude oil prices. Our contractors pretty much to a man or a woman are looking for skilled people like the young lady that you interviewed. We’ve got great career opportunities. They can be at a company for as long as they want to as long as they’ve got the skills set and the desire to do so.

Rob: Now, this workforce that you’re talking about, that’s coming from a lot of the tech centers. How does someone get a job in construction?

Tapp: Obviously one method for them to utilize is going through, you know, the tech centers’ programs. We sponsor the NCCER programs throughout that represent masonry, carpentry, plumbing, heat and air, electrical, the instructors utilized to train the young men and young women. And through our relationship with those instructors, they know that if that young man or young lady wants to go into commercial contracting, they’ll point ’em to the AGC for information on our contractors. Currently, we’re also in the process of building a website housed under our chapter that will promote those careers and also hopefully here in the next couple of months, also be a job posting board that our contractors can utilize so that those young potential commercial contractors can look at and say, “Oh, there’s some jobs in carpentry, there’s some jobs in masonry,” and pursue those accordingly.

Rob: So not only it’ll help educate but also to help people find employees. That’s great. October is Construction Month here in Oklahoma; in fact, I just had this proclamation given to me and it’s from the governor. So anything special that you guys are going to do in the month of October?

Tapp: We hope to at least roll out the, the boilerplate of that website. We’ve been talking to our members about, you know, getting more involved with, you know, talking to their and thanking their legislators, thanking the governor. Obviously, you know, we partner up with the tech centers quite often, but we want to, you know, focus on that during the month of October. We have positions that are vice presidents, senior project managers, but then we’ve got companies that are looking for, you know, somebody that’s going to do heat and air or somebody that’s going to do electrical or masonry or dirt work. Somebody that might, you know, grew up playing with their Tonka toys but now want to take it on a grander scale and play around with a D9 dozer. We’ve got all kinds of opportunities for a young man or young woman that’s interested in getting in the business. And they can be there, like I said, for as long as they’d like. They’re fantastic careers. They’re great companies. Typically our companies have really good benefits, good pay scale.

Rob: Yeah, they pay well above the state average.

Tapp: Yes, they do. And they treat their employees very well.

Rob: Are there certain challenges that you see on the horizon for you?

Tapp: Yes, AGC of America did a study a couple years ago that asked what are companies challenged with currently. And 86 percent responded that workforce shortage is their No. 1 concern. We’re seeing it in Oklahoma. We’ve got subcontracting, specialty contractors that need workers. They’re either not bidding, our general contractors, because they’re so full of work they can’t man another job, or, you know, our general contractors are looking for superintendents, project managers, estimators, etc. So I think it’s here, and I think through the help with the CareerTech System, the help with the proclamation, you know, those are little pieces that can help, you know, solve that problem in the future.

Rob: Well, hopefully the work that is underway right now will certainly solve that. Doug, thank you so much.

Tapp: Appreciate it.

Rob: Now, we do have links to those videos, as well as some construction stories we’ve done in the past streaming on our website at

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” made in America and proud of it, but first, a fitting tribute.

Rob McClendon: Well, if you’re a regular viewer of this show, you may recognize Larry Mocha. For over 25 years, Larry was a tireless advocate and enthusiastic supporter of small business owners in the state of Oklahoma and absolutely loved his chosen field of manufacturing.

Larry Mocha: Manufacturing is an industry that creates wealth in and of itself. I think for every dollar spent on manufacturing or related industries, another buck and a half is generated as a result. Well, that’s just by manufacturing by itself. When you export, like if we export out of Oklahoma, then what we’re doing, we’re growing the pie. Manufacturers help grow the pie. When you export stuff out of Oklahoma, you’re bringing those dollars into Oklahoma, so you’re helping to grow that pie. So most of our stuff is done outside of Oklahoma, all the work’s done here, all the money comes back here, but our products are shipped all over the United States.

Rob: In addition to being CEO of the company his father started a quarter of century ago, Larry was also the co-founder of OK2Grow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving high school completion rates, promoting entrepreneurism among youth and developing manufacturing’s workforce pipeline. Now, Larry passed away this summer, but leaves a legacy of building both products and people in his lifetime.

Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV, or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.

Rob McClendon: Well, manufacturing accounts for one in six private sector jobs in this country and makes up about 10 percent of Oklahoma’s gross state product, employing people all across Oklahoma. Joining me now in studio is David Rowland, the president and CEO of Oklahoma’s Manufacturing Alliance.

Rob McClendon: Well, let’s start off with just the state of manufacturing here in the state.

David Rowland: Well, thank you, Rob. Yeah, manufacturing in the state is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest with you. There’s about 140,000 people employed in the state, serving four main sectors. And the largest sector is energy – gas and oil primarily. And right now I think everyone knows the ploy to that. The oilfields are down, and the gas side is doing a little better, but still off, so anyone that’s solely manufacturing for those sectors is having a pretty challenging time right now.

Rob: And while energy may well be a cyclical industry, there are other sectors of our economy that are doing quite well.

Rowland: Absolutely. You know, the airlines are really enjoying, you know, some record profits and so forth. And so consequently one of our major industries here in the state is aerospace, and the aerospace industry’s doing great. Many manufacturers have seen maybe a 10 or 15 percent uptick over last year in their business and are out actually trying to hire, you know, qualified individuals. So that’s a real exciting piece of what’s going on right now. And some of the stable areas are infrastructure, transportation or support here in the state.

Rob: Now, we just celebrated National Manufacturing Week and National Manufacturing Day. What are some of the goals here in the state coming out of that?

Rowland: Well, obviously Manufacturing Day is to highlight what a career in manufacturing can do for someone and make parents, students and educators more aware of that as a career. So the goal is to raise awareness of what manufacturing does. For instance, most people don’t know that manufacturing sector jobs pay 20 percent more than other sectors on average. For instance, a base salary in manufacturing is $60,000. And in addition to that, most manufacturers pay benefits so that’s a different piece of information than we probably saw 15, 20 years ago throughout the United States. So the idea is to make people aware that it’s no longer a dark, dirty type of industry where people come home hurt, etc. No, it’s a very modern, it’s a very exciting advanced technology type of career. People are running robots. They’re running CNC machines. They’re basically involved in laboratory and art research and development. And it’s not all on the shop floor. People have to remember that there’s jobs in accounting, there’s jobs in purchasing, there’s jobs in marketing, those types of things that support manufacturers. So we’re trying to make sure that people understand that manufacturing is a career that they should be, that they can be proud of and that they can make a very good living with and support, you know, a family and their goals.

Rob: How important is the skills training that the CareerTech centers around the state provide?

Rowland: Oh, we couldn’t, we couldn’t, manufacturing couldn’t do it without it. Manufacturing really depends on a lot of STEM training from that aspect and a lot of certifications – welders, machinists, etc., in there. And the CareerTech is set up so well to do that. And we have the same goals – we both work as an outreach. One of the things I think is really nice is our organization deals specifically with manufacturers, and any time we see an educational or a training need, the first place we come back to is a CareerTech from that. We bring them in, get them involved, and hopefully it’s as much as a one-stop shop as we can when we bring CareerTech in.

Rob: Now, I know you’re about to celebrate your one-year anniversary as the president and CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance. What do you see the future being like in the industry and for your group?

Rowland: Well, the industry, I think it’s going to be a situation where manufacturing has to basically adopt new technologies and innovation as we’ve talked about. And it’s gonna be a tough go for about the next five or 10 years on workforce development as we’ve talked about. So for the industry, manufacturers are gonna have to stay involved with the schools, the parents, in educating people about manufacturing in order to build those careers and get people interested and back into manufacturing. But also, the technology piece, we’ve talked about that. We’re gonna have to make sure that we’re on the front-end of that, we’re using technology effective and that we’re able to apply it not only to today’s world but get our manufacturers looking at five years of strategic planning type of goals from that. If we’re not planning for the next five years with our manufacturing base, we’re gonna be left behind.

Rob: So how important is just the simple but fundamental thing of changing the mindset about manufacturing?

Rowland: Well, it’s a simple thing to talk about, and it’s a huge need. It’s a hard thing to do from there. A recent survey by National Association of Manufacturers came back and said that people wanted manufacturing as their No. 1 economic driver in their communities. However, when you ask that same question, “Would you want your child or your brother or sister to work in manufacturing?” it ranked fifth or sixth depending on which survey. So there’s a big gap when you look at this. So there’s a lot to be done when you look at those types of numbers and with the shortage of employees that are projected in the next 10 years, some projections are saying nationally that with the retirement of the baby boomers and so forth, manufacturing will be short almost two and half million jobs. We won’t have qualified people to meet those needs. Now, looking at Oklahoma, you can translate that down, and that’s somewhere in the range of 25 to 30,000 jobs that will go unfilled. And when you think about a $60,000-plus base job plus benefits, you know, that’s a great career opportunity for a lot of people. So we’ve got to get the message out. We’ve got to be able to bring people in and understand what manufacturing careers can do, etc.

Rob: All right. Well, Dave, I certainly appreciate you coming by.

Rowland: Well, thank you.

Rob: Now, Dave Rowland is the president and CEO of Oklahoma’s Manufacturing Alliance.

Rob McClendon: You can keep up with us throughout the week. Just head to where you can see more of any of our stories, read our reporters’ behind the scenes blogs, see what others are saying about us on Twitter and face the facts with our regular updates. So reach out and touch us anywhere, at anytime.

Rob McClendon: Well, manufacturing products for the federal government while lucrative can be complicated. That is why a group called OBAN helps Oklahoma companies cut through the red tape. Here’s our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: The Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network provides marketing and technical assistance to Oklahoma businesses interested in selling products and services to federal, state, local and tribal governments. The primary purpose of OBAN is to create jobs and expand the economy in Oklahoma, by providing specific, valuable resources to Oklahoma businesses.

Courtney Maye: From plumbing to manufacturing, CareerTech’s Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network is helping a variety of Oklahoma businesses grow.

Carter Merkle: First of all, nobody has the reach into local businesses like CareerTech does. With 29 districts across the state, they all know their local businesses, and we could not possibly reach into the local business community with, with any other method.

Courtney: OBAN helps thousands of businesses across the state receive government contracting, including 10-year client Ed Gluckowski with Southwest Oklahoma Plumbing. Thanks to OBAN, Gluckowski works for schools, hospitals and fairgrounds all across southwest Oklahoma.

Ed Gluckowski: I couldn’t have began my company and got it to where it is today without OBAN, Red River, you know, Dana Harwell and Pam upfront. I mean, it’s like having my own extra company here.

Courtney: Southwest Oklahoma Plumbing focuses on local and state government jobs, working closely with Bid Assistance Coordinator Dana Harwell at Red River Technology Center. Gluckowski says OBAN and the services it provides has saved his company thousands of dollars. Specifically, the plan room at Red River Technology Center, a resource designed for OBAN, allowing Gluckowski to print the blueprints he needs before bidding on a job.

Gluckowski: I get the docs here from OBAN network. But once I get the docs here, then I go to my office, and I bid at my office and get the thing turned out.

Courtney: As a bid assistance coordinator, Harwell works with businesses of all kinds and sizes.

Dana Harwell: The most recent contracts that’s been real exciting is a manufacturing company that I’ve been working with. They started with me two years ago, a little over two years ago from the ground up. I’ve helped them get registered. I’ve helped them with marketing. I’ve helped them look at bids. I’ve, you know, helped them with plans and specs. And recently they had received a large dollar contract.

Courtney: Across town, Duncan Machine Products started in a 227 square-foot shop in Teri and Chris Billings’ backyard. Yet with work continuously coming thanks to government contracting, the company has upsized four times and is now in a 27,000 square-foot facility.

Teri Billings: It’s helped our employees have a little bit of security.

Chris Billings: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Teri: We have some diversification.

Chris: We have been fortunate enough to never have to lay off an employee due to the fact that we didn’t have work.

Teri: Our OBAN coordinator has helped us in amazing ways.

Chris: Guidance in general.

Teri: Guidance, yeah.

Chris: I feel like you have somebody in your corner.

Teri: That knows something.

Chris: Yes [laugh].

Teri: She is so knowledgeable on almost everything.

Courtney: OBAN is successfully servicing clients with 16 offices located at 15 technology centers across Oklahoma.

Carter Merkle: It just really helps to be able to say you’re part of the local tech center. You’re able to open doors there because they know their local tech centers, major employers in their area. They know that you come from somebody who offers quality help.

Courtney: The Oklahoma Department of CareerTech started OBAN in 1986 in an effort to keep local government contracting dollars in the state.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney. Now, if you’d like to learn more about contracting with the federal government, I do a conversation with the regional administrator for the Small Business Administration streaming on our website, and John Shoraka may answer all your questions.

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” I sit down with country music icon and Oklahoman Roy Clark.

Roy Clark: When you did something then we had to live with it, there was no stopping tape.

Rob: Oh really.

Clark: We never rehearsed because then if you, they found out there was a stop button then we’d be stopping all day long, stopping the tape.

Rob: And we’ll also meet the man behind the music, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Well, that is going to wrap us up for today, but you can see more of any of our stories on our website at ok horizon dot com; follow us throughout the week on Twitter at OKHorizonTV or just become a “Horizon” fan on Facebook. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for including us in your day. Hope to see you back here next week.

Male Announcer: “Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people, grow good things. Thank you for watching “Oklahoma Horizon.”