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Faces of Manufacturing

Livi Steel electrical engineer encourages young people to find work they enjoy doing

To anyone not familiar with manufacturing, David Gomory’s desk can be overwhelming.

Surrounded by countless binders, books and drawings on shelving, desks and the walls, the Livi Steel engineer has a method for where everything is located.

Livi Steel is a member manufacturer of MVMC.

It’s all in a directional flow, each binder organized by year, spanning his career.

Starting at the beginning

Gomory went to Penn State University and Youngstown State University, two years each, earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Following college, Gomory started out in a nuclear power plant, doing inspections during the construction phase.

Had he continued with the career, he would have had to travel around the country.

David Gomory has built a career with Livi Steel as a problem-solving engineer.

“That lifestyle didn’t appeal to me,” Gomory said.

That’s when he decided to look into the manufacturing industry.

Taking the idea from his own father, Gomory started with Livi Steel about 30 years ago as a detailer.

“The basic aspect is when erectors in the field receive a delivery of steel beams, they look at the diagrams on how to assemble them,” Gomory said.

Then, if there are problems or the contractor has a question, “that’s when they call me,” he said.

There’s a lot of attention to detail that goes into each diagram. Once they are completed, the work is looked over by a “checker.”

After about five years in the industry, Gomory started doing checking, eventually leading to problem-solving out in the field.

Building resources

Looking at his workspace, Gomory knows where each document is, and how it’s precisely organized.

“After you’ve been at this a while, you get to a point there’s a library,” he said, laughing.

That library includes codes and zoning information, parts of the job he enjoys learning and knowing.

He encourages anyone to find work they like doing.

“You can have a first job you don’t like and that’s okay but find something you enjoy doing because otherwise you’ll be miserable,” Gomory said.

Looking back at his career, he said he feels fulfilled.

“I really like it. I can actually say I enjoy what I did.”

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Faces of Manufacturing

Gasser Chair welder wishes Happy Mother’s Day to his boss

Imagine having your mom as a boss.

That’s the case for Peter Levitski, a welder at MVMC member manufacturer Gasser Chair Company in Youngstown.

Mother Dolores is welding group leader, and together they make up that department.

“We get along very well. We think a lot alike,” Dolores said.

The two welders at Gasser Chair Company in Youngstown are Peter Levitski, right, and mother Dolores. They work next to each other and both say they enjoy it.

Sparks fly with new job

Since 2007, Dolores has been with Gasser Chair as a welder.

“I’ve always been fascinated by welding,” she said.

After her husband died, Dolores was raising three children on a minimum wage job.

She decided to learn to weld, which is what Peter’s dad did for a living.

“I just absolutely love it,” Dolores said, adding she enjoys building things.

Prior to joining Gasser, Dolores didn’t realize the amount of time that goes into making the best seat possible.

“I never knew what it took to build a chair. It’s the height, how it sits, the size to slot machine or table. Once I see what I’ve done it makes me proud.”

Work and actual family

Dolores also loves where she works, because the company puts family first.

“It feels good to get up in the morning and come be a part of that,” she said.

Dolores taught Peter the basics of welding before he was 10 years old.

“She actually just handed me down her original welder,” he said.

Working with his mom isn’t difficult because Peter said he knows what’s expected of him.

“I’m lucky enough to work with my mom. Our communication is awesome. I don’t like to disappoint her, so I make sure to do the best I can.”

They work so well together, that even though Dolores is right-handed and Peter’s a lefty, they have learned to weld with both hands and put each other’s stations back together when they “borrow” each other’s space.

When they aren’t working at Gasser, Dolores builds hot rods, does custom welding and spends time with her grandchildren.

Pete has three kids who keep him busy, along with a roofing business where he’s Dolores’ boss.

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Faces of Manufacturing

In Demands Job Week Profile: Tool and die maker molds future starting with apprenticeship

While he was already inching toward a college degree and working full time, Joe Zagorec changed courses and took a chance.

It was 1995 when he decided to leave his studies at Youngstown State University and go into a skilled trades apprenticeship.

“It’s kind of a big career change, but the opportunity presented itself and I took advantage of it,” Zagorec said.

He’s now a tool and die maker at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, where he’s been since 2016.

Previously, he was at Delphi Electric for 25 years working on molds and progressive dies after going through their tool and die apprenticeship.

Tool and die maker stands at grinder.
Joe Zagorec is a tool and die maker at ClarkDietrich in Vienna. He began his career in the mid-1990s with a four-year apprenticeship.

Making the switch

He realized he enjoyed the atmosphere of the classroom-machine shop setup.

The apprenticeship was two years in the classroom then two years in the plants applying what he learned while working under a journeyman’s mentorship.

“It’s different” learning in a traditional college setting and working, compared to applying lessons hands-on, Zagorec said.

Completing an in-house apprenticeship allows for the employer to “mold” the training employee to learn different roles within the company, Zagorec said.

New beginnings

Before joining ClarkDietrich, Zagorec didn’t work with rotary dies.

Instead, he worked on progressive dies, running 1,500 strokes a minute.

Learning the new skill wasn’t difficult, he said.

“The concept is the same as far as die work.”

During his apprenticeship, Zagorec learned mostly conventional, he said.

As his career has evolved, he’s gotten involved with wires and sinkers, which are more CNC aspects.

Looking at the numbers

The average hourly wage for a tool and die maker is $27, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Annually, that’s about $56,200.

Closer to home, the average hourly rate is $21, or $43,700 annually.

To earn credentials in tool and die making, courses can be taken at Trumbull County Technical Center, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, and Eastern Gateway Community College.

A career path for everyone

Becoming a tool and die maker has provided a stable life for Zagorec and his family.

“It’s been an excellent career choice,” he said, noting he was able to pay his daughter’s college tuition to become a teacher.

For high school students, “manufacturing is an excellent opportunity” to research.

Even students with straight-As and those who are National Honor Society members should consider the skilled trades if they like working with their hands and minds, Zagorec said.

“I never would have pictured myself” in manufacturing “because no one ever pushed it in high school.”

That’s why talking with students about apprenticeships is crucial, Zagorec said.

“There are so many opportunities for trades… that are great, stable careers.”

For information on funding apprenticeships or upskilling employees, visit TechCred and WorkAdvance.

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Faces of Manufacturing

In Demands Job Week Profile: Dunaway employee builds future as a CNC machinist

When Carmine Zarlenga was planning out his life, becoming a CNC machinist was one way to reach his goals without having to relocate.

He could have his choice of where he would work in the Mahoning Valley while also being well-paid.

“I loved that there are lots of jobs locally,” Zarlenga said. “There’s always jobs for this industry. They’re readily available.”

He works at Dunaway Inc. in Canfield, using machining equipment to produce precision parts.

Carmine Zarlenga is a CNC machinist at Dunaway Inc. in Canfield. He decided to go to MCCTC as an adult to earn credentials, saying there are many jobs available locally with higher pay.

Although working with machinery, Zarlenga is able to apply critical thinking each day while still being hands-on.

“This is the perfect balance of working with your hands but also working with your mind,” he said, as he watched the machine create a part, which he then measured by hand.

To set his career in motion, Zarlenga went to the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Canfield for their adult machining program.

“Then I found a job and progressed from there.”

Prior to becoming a CNC machinist, Zarlenga was a diesel mechanic.

Looking at the figures

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the national hourly average of a CNC machining employee is $29 an hour, or $62,300 annually.

Locally, that figure is between $17 and $28 an hour, depending on the credentials earned by an employee.

To become a machinist, courses are offered at MCCTC, Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, Trumbull County Technical Center and Eastern Gateway Community College, where a certification program is offered.

Creating a balance

“You make decent money and make a decent career out of it,” Zarlenga said.

Cost of living in the Mahoning Valley is considerably lower than other parts of the country, making his income stretch further, he noted.

Building off that, the schedule is great, too.

For the most part, CNC machinists know their schedule, which provides a steady life-work balance, Zarlenga said.

“We have a set schedule we work” at Dunaway, he said

For high school students unsure what to do after graduation or adults looking for a new career path, Zarlenga said he would urge them to “greatly consider” manufacturing.

“There are jobs everywhere for it. It’s a good way without a college degree to make a very good living,” Zarlenga said.

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Faces of Manufacturing

Lake Park lathe operator takes professional-grade snapshots

During the day, Terrance Jones is a lathe operator at Lake Park Tool and Machine in Youngstown.

At night and on weekends, he’s a photographer.

Jones got his start in photography in 2010 when his daughter graduated from high school, and “I had to pay for those senior pictures,” he said.

Prior to that, Jones usually had a camcorder in tow, documenting life around him.

Mostly self-taught, Jones photographs weddings, senior portraits and maternity sessions. For training, he attends workshops and watches YouTube.

Then, Jones gets out and practices, as his goal is to do as little editing to the file as possible.

Building out

He’s looking to branch into business-to-business photography, putting a creative flair on portraits.

Originally, Jones used Canon digital single-lens reflex cameras, or DSLRs, but now has a mirrorless Sony that he carries with him to work.

Terrance Jones holds his new camera.
While he is a lathe operator at Lake Park Tool and Machine, Terrance Jones also is a photographer when he’s not at work.

“I love it,” he said of the newer investment. “What you see is what you get.”

His precision at work with the lathe has lent itself to Jones having a steady hand for photography, he said.

Looking back

When he was growing up, Jones didn’t think he’d be building things by day and creating lifetime mementos as a side hustle.

“I can see from my childhood” that he would have gone down his exact path, watching his father work on lawn mowers, installing dry wall, Jones said.

He applies the same approach to working in manufacturing, by working with his hands, that he does with photography.

“I’m all hands-on” during the learning process, Jones said.

Terrance Jones works at the lathe.
Growing up, Terrance Jones knew he would work with his hands. Now, he’s not only a lathe operator at Lake Park Tool and Machine, but also a photographer in his free time.

Industrial support system

Calling Jones a “fantastic machinist,” RJ Fryan, CEO of Lake Park Tool and Machine, and the Lake Park team overall support Jones in his photography, which like his daytime work, has a lasting impact.

“How many miners did you make this week, Terrance? Great, you hit your number. You also helped a couple have the happiest day of their life,” Fryan said.

He and Jones have discussed advertising options and different ways to explore getting the word out about Jones’ photography skills.

[View Jones’ portfolio here.]

“It’s beholding on us as the manufacturers now to support” employees in their extracurricular activities, Fryan said.

“How many lathe operators exist in the world that do this?” Fryan said, referring to Jones’ photography.

Working within a company where he’s encouraged to grow with his hobby and passion is rare, Jones said.

“It’s beautiful. You don’t get that too often.”

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Faces of Manufacturing

Livi Steel welder looks at his work through an artist’s lens

When most people think of welders, the word ‘artist’ isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

 

But that’s exactly how Stacey Gray describes himself.

 

“I think it’s a form of art,” the Livi Steel Inc. employee said. “When you weld, it’s almost like drawing. It takes a lot of thought.”

Stacey Gray stands in front of steel beams.
Stacey Gray is a welder at Livi Steel in Warren. He encourages people to check out the trade, saying that it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.

Gray got his start in welding when he was working at VXI in downtown Youngstown. He was encouraged to look into Flying HIGH, and enrolled in the school after checking it out.

 

Growing up, Gray didn’t consider manufacturing as a career.

 

“I had no clue. I was lost when I was younger and didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said.

 

As he got older, friends encouraged him to pursue welding.

 

Gray is certified in stick welding, and his favorite type of weld is vertical up with stick.

Stacey Gray welds a beam at Livi Steel in Warren.
Approaching his work as art, Stacey Gray is recognized at Livi Steel as a precise welder with strong work ethic.

“I like the flow” of the process, he said. “After you’re done, the bead is so pretty.”

Recognized for detail

His craft is noticed beyond his work.

 

Donald Livi, president of Livi Steel, praises Gray’s attention and dedication to work.

 

“Stacey’s work ethic can be described as admirable,” Livi said.

 

“His skills allow him to be effective, productive and efficient.”

 

When he’s not welding and earning certifications, Gray produces music and raps.

 

To anyone interested in a career change or looking for a new direction, Gray suggests to consider manufacturing.

 

There’s a consistent form of growing and challenging yourself, he said.

 

“It’s an environment where you’ll always have to be aware,” Gray said.

 

Going into a trade, be prepared to make mistakes. “It’s like with everything – you get better with time,” Gray said.

 

Livi Steel is a member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

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Faces of Manufacturing

WorkAdvance teaches Hubbard man skills needed to succeed in manufacturing

At 18 years old, Hunter Wess is already saving for a house.

 

That’s not all the fiscal responsibility he has.

 

“I just opened a retirement fund, too. When I’m 19, I’ll get a 401k.”

 

These benefits were made possible through WorkAdvance.

Taking advantage of WorkAdvance

 

Wess was able to set up his future right out of high school taking a job at Extrudex Aluminum in North Jackson.

 

Helping him gain a range of skills to prepare for the opportunity was WorkAdvance.

Hunter Wess applies what his peers at Extrudex Aluminum in North Jackson teach him about running a press. He was hired in after graduation when he completed the WorkAdvance program.

 

Offered through MVMC, those enrolled learn the basics of manufacturing while earning a stipend over a six-week period.

 

The course was offered while Wess, 18, was a senior at MVMC education partner, Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

 

“I went through the classes to get manufacturing certificates,” he said.

 

Through a partnership with Goodwill Industries, Wess also earned customer service credentials.

 

“They helped us with practicing what to do in interviews,” Wess said.

 

Right after graduation, he was hired to work on the saw, stacking aluminum extrusions. He learned how to use the crane and stretchers so he can straighten the extrusion as it comes out of the press.

 

Now, “I’m learning how to run the extrusion press.”

 

Prior to enrolling in WorkAdvance, Wess didn’t know what was involved in manufacturing. “I had no idea about plants like Extrudex and how they run.”

 

Originally, he went to TCTC for the construction track, specifically to build house frames.

 

Now that he has an understanding of manufacturing, he’s happy he can do what he enjoys and get paid for it.

 

“I’ve always had a fascination with seeing machines, figuring out how they work. Now I work with these giant industrial machines and I run them.”

Having that work-life balance

 

Throughout high school, Wess worked in fast-food.

 

That meant scarce wages, unpredictable schedules and no health insurance.

 

Working at Extrudex, Wess works two 12-hour shifts, then is off for two days. “I get a lot of days off to do whatever I want.” There is also plenty of opportunity to work overtime, he said.

 

It was through WorkAdvance that he was able to have stability at a young age.

 

Mostly online, he said it was worth the time and energy. “I ended up learning a lot more than I thought I would.”

 

Most of what he learned through the program he was able to apply directly to his job at Extrudex.

 

“There was some stuff I thought I would never use, but I came here and thought, ‘Oh, now it makes sense.’”

At 18 years old, Hunter Wess of Hubbard is already saving for a house. He also has started investing in retirement, due to starting a career in manufacturing straight out of high school.

 

Going through WorkAdvance, Wess was able to learn certain skills faster at Extrudex because he already had an idea of what to expect, he said.

 

For example, there was an entire section on cranes, which came in handy. “I already knew how to do all of the safety and run the cranes.”

Teamwork

 

As Wess has worked at Extrudex, he has picked up what his peers do, and they have helped teach him how to use machinery.

 

“I learned how to run the saw as I stood and watched them,” he said. Eventually, he learned all the different commands on the keyboard, and he’s built his skills from there.

 

As he learns new skills, Wess is able to work other jobs at Extrudex.

 

“If the saw operator’s not able to come in, I can do it.”

 

The ability to learn a swatch of skills is an all-hands-on-deck approach at Extrudex, Wess said. There’s also a team-oriented atmosphere with the company.

 

He works with the same people, so he’s gotten to know them. Sometimes they’ll hang out.

 

“Everyone helps each other.” Whenever someone can’t make it to work, everyone pitches in and shuffles jobs for the day if needed to keep operations smooth, Wess said.

Go for it

 

Now that he has been learning the ropes of manufacturing, Wess said he sees himself doing his line of work for a long time.

 

Anyone looking for a first-time job or a career change should consider manufacturing, he said.

 

“The best thing you can do is research” when job searching.

 

For manufacturing, “you don’t need a whole lot of external training to come here. They have entry-level positions and as you learn, you move up,” Wess said.

 

“It’s definitely worth it.”

 

When he’s not working, Wess spends time with friends, camping and working in the man cave – his shed.

 

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Faces of Manufacturing

Shop foreman at Livi enjoys close work ties, reliable life provided by manufacturing

Walking into Livi Steel in Warren, there’s a close bond that is obvious as soon as you walk in the office and shop doors.

 

One of the reasons it’s a familiar atmosphere is due to the shop foreman, Michael Simmons.

 

Overseeing day-to-day production of the 16-crew shop, Michael enjoys his work because he likes spending time with his coworkers, but he also enjoys manufacturing.

Michael Simmons verifies markings on a steel beam.
Michael Simmons, shop foreman at Livi Steel, has worked with the company in Warren for about 25 years. His father was also shop foreman.

“My favorite part of my job is loading all the different trucks and helping coworkers solve problems,” he said.

 

Michael keeps track of inventory in the shop, along with what is being shipped and received, and anything involving the trucks delivering and taking steel.

 

He’s been with Livi Steel for about 25 years.

 

Adding to the family atmosphere, Michael’s father, Charlie, was shop foreman for 35 years.

 

“He taught me how to do this job,” Michael said.

 

Also working in the shop is his uncle Dave, a fitter, and previously uncle Bob, also a fitter and first responder.

 

Working his way up the ladder with Livi, Michael encourages anyone searching for a solid career to check out manufacturing.

 

He started as a laborer and after learning every role at Livi, he is now the shop foreman.

 

“Working here means a steady paycheck and good benefits,” he said.

 

In addition to being a leader at Livi Steel, Michael enjoys riding motorcycles and watching sports.

 

He roots for the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State.

 

Most important and the most fun, though, is spending time with family, especially now that he’s a new grandfather.

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Faces of Manufacturing

300th Apprentice’s story illustrates career growth potential in manufacturing

Last month we reported that the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network, of which MVMC is a part, reached its 5-year goal of enrolling 300 registered apprentices in the American Apprenticeship Initiative grant.

 

In fact, 18 MVMC members were among 70 manufacturers in the region to participate in this $2.9 million grant.

 

This month we tracked down the apprentice who pushed us over the top. He is 29-year-old Mark Kmecik of Girard, Pa., from Northwestern Manufacturing in Lake City, Pa. His backstory illustrates the rewarding, long-term career paths available in manufacturing and is worth sharing.

An apprentice works on machinery.
Helping MVMC meet its goal of 300 registered apprentices for a grant was Mark Kmecik, through Northwestern Manufacturing in Pennsylvania.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Mark attended trade school for CNC machining.

 

He secured a job that offered an apprenticeship program so he could continue learning and earn additional certifications to advance his career.

 

He’s hoping to complete his current apprenticeship in 2 or 3 years, Mark said.

 

“I just started, but I am looking forward to branching out and growing my knowledge in more areas of machining.”

 

The program at NWM isn’t necessarily time-based, Clay Brocious, plant manager, said.

 

“Based on the framework provided by the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network, our program is a knowledge and competency-based program.”

 

Apprenticeship programs help shape people’s work trajectory, Mark said.

Mark Kmecik is a U.S. Navy veteran who recently enrolled in an AAI apprenticeship program.

“I think offering structured training is a good way for companies to attract and retain goal-oriented people by giving them clear objectives for growth,” Mark said.

 

When he’s not studying, Mark and his wife, Lydia, are kept busy with their 1-year-old daughter, Eve.

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Faces of Manufacturing

Work ethic is key for Clark Dietrich employee

In the massive ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna, chances are most employees know and love Gordana Davis.

 

She just celebrated her second year with the company, and has been in manufacturing for 24.

 

“I’ve been working all my life,” Davis said. “I’m all about working and getting the job done.”

ClarkDietrich employee Gordana Davis stands in the Vienna facility.
Gordana Davis has worked with ClarkDietrich for two years, but has been in manufacturing for 24. Her commitment to her career and the industry are from a team-mentality of showing up to work to complete a task.

Born in Bosnia, Davis came to the United States in 1975 when she was 14, not speaking any English.

 

She went to school and learned the language from the foundations of ABCs and sounds.

 

In 1983, Davis got married to an American man. Together, they had three children.

 

Throughout her time building a life in the States, Davis worked as a cashier for 13 years before she headed to manufacturing.

 

Thinking about the start of her manufacturing career, Davis said: “I remember going home the first day, I couldn’t even walk up the steps.”

 

From there, she has learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people during her time in the manufacturing industry.

 

“Everybody put trust in me.”

 

Davis loves the physical labor that goes along with overseeing her work, keeping schedule to her tasks. “I like the fast-pace” environment of the industry, she said.

 

It wasn’t long before Davis learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people over the years.

 

Davis has only called off once — one day — in more than two decades.

 

“It’s all about commitment,” she said. “You need to be here to produce the job so we don’t lose manufacturing.”

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.