98: The State of Manufacturing: Nebraska, the Midwest, and Beyond with Michael Johnson and Scott Volk

Recently, we had an opportunity to attend an extremely unique manufacturing event in Columbus, NE. Columbus is a small, rural town and it’s the exact type of spot where manufacturing events should be taking place. Communities like this across the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the United States in general, are where manufacturing and manufacturing jobs can change people’s lives.

This event was called Manufacturing Nebraska’s Future, and it was all about showcasing the trends, opportunities, and technologies in manufacturing to leaders in the Nebraska manufacturing scene as well as to the community. Everyone from students to folks that work at the local manufacturing companies was present.

In this special live episode of Manufacturing Happy Hour, we chat with two leaders from the state of Nebraska: Scott Volk, COO of MetalQuest Unlimited, and Mike Johnson, COO at the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, including the role of the Chamber of Commerce and how to change the perception that Nebraska offers more than just agriculture. It’s a manufacturing powerhouse as well.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. Nationwide, just 29% of people in manufacturing are women and 95% of skilled labor is male-dominated.
  2. Nebraska is more than just an agricultural state. In fact, manufacturing makes up the state’s largest GDP.
  3. Manufacturing has an image issue on a global scale, not just in middle America.

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “The Chamber of Commerce is the engine to get things done, that’s just the simplest way of putting it.” -Scott Volk
  • “What’s happening in manufacturing now, and what’s going to happen in manufacturing in the next ten years is a quick way to a comfortable life for anyone who’s willing to work in the industry.” – Michael Johnson
  • “There’s strength in numbers, and the more you can coordinate, the more you’re going to get done.” – Scott Volk

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn.

Thanks to the Nebraska CED team for hosting Manufacturing Nebraska’s Future 2022. CED is a top electrical distributor in the US and Nebraska’s Authorized Rockwell Automation Distributor.

Interested in generating leads through videos, podcasts, or other digital content? Then make sure to check out our 6 Strategies for Growing Your Manufacturing Business Using Social Media.

What We Discuss with Michael and Scott

  • What it was like for Mike to move from brewing to the Chamber of Commerce
  • How Scott combines his work at Metal Quest and the Chamber of Commerce
  • Why Nebraska is more than an agricultural state
  • What the Chamber of Commerce does for manufacturing
  • The nuances of the workforce shortage in manufacturing
  • Why the manufacturing industry needs some better PR
  • How other players can contribute to the manufacturing ecosystem
  • What other states can learn from the progress made in Nebraska
  • Tips for picking the right beer from Mike

Recommended Resources

  • Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, a steadfast advocate for free enterprise, a competitive business climate, and state-wide economic growth through education, leadership development and government activism within the state of Nebraska
  • MetalQuest Unlimited, manufacturer of precision machined component parts and assemblies in Hebron, NE

Connect with Michael and Scott

Michael Johnson | Scott Volk