Companies open doors and enter classrooms to attract future workforce

February 10, 2017 | A Love Story: Meet Iowa couples who've found success in love and business Alexandra Monaghan, Program Coordinator, Elevate Advanced Manufacturing,

Companies can no longer sit back and expect potential employees to knock on their doors. Iowa manufacturers are not only finding ways to set themselves apart and attract workers now, they are also starting to introduce their company to school-age kids. They hope these efforts will result in a future work relationship.

The statewide nonprofit initiative Elevate Advanced Manufacturing is coordinating these efforts through its ambassador program. Elevate’s mission is to promote careers in advanced manufacturing, and the best way to do this is to give young people an insider’s look into manufacturing companies.

“We need to show young people that inside the plain-looking warehouse walls around the state are real Iowans, just like them, working at exciting jobs and making great money,” said ambassador Ryan Junge of Lennox Industries in Marshalltown, who worked his way up from a production worker to a supplier quality engineer and believes strongly in manufacturing career opportunities.

“Younger manufacturing workers can better connect with middle and high school students while communicating to them that these kinds of careers could be right for them too,” Junge said.

Typical Elevate ambassadors are employees of manufacturing companies around the state who are engaged in skilled work such as welding, computer numerical control, robotics and tool-and-dye.

More than 100 ambassadors help spread the mes- sage that manufacturing jobs can mean great pay, great opportunities and a great life.

“Many people still think that working in manufacturing means backbreaking work without real advancement opportunity,” said ambassador Dane Dermody of Highway Equipment in Cedar Rapids. “The truth is, these are high-wage jobs, and if you show some initiative, Iowa companies are excited to help you move up the career ladder. I love my job, and it has afforded me the life I want.”

If you are interested in learning how to be involved with the Elevate Advanced Manufacturing program, contact Michele Farrell at or Alexandra Monaghan at