All the parts produced by the Neapco Manufacturing Plant make something turn, and as a company Neapco is looking to turn around the image of what manufacturing is.
As part of National Manufacturing Day, several companies located in the Gage County Industrial Park in Beatrice hosted tours and open houses.
Those planning tours and open houses included Neapco, Worldlawn, and Precise Fabrication along with Industrial Maid.
“We want to help change the negative image that surrounds manufacturing and let people know what we are really about,” Neapco Vice President J.C. Styles said.
Last year, Neapco was the only open house on Manufacturing Day.
“A high percentage of people have never been inside and we have come a long way from what manufacturing used to be,” Styles said.
Neapco is about 250,000 square feet and employs 350 people. It was the first company in Industrial Park.
Last year over 80 people came, Styles said, and the responses the company received were great.
“These tours are to help show people what it looks like while we are in full operation,” he said.
Seven stops were made on a tour that was about a half-mile walk. The tour group stopped at areas called the test lab, Axel Cell, Bell Cell, Half Shaft Assembly, 1550 Needle Loader, Propshaft Cell and Okuma.
Each stop was different from the year before.
“The biggest challenge we face this year is a labor shortage,” Styles said. “Giving tours and showing people what it is like could open doors for many.”
Manufacturing plants now utilize technologies and are kept clean and environmentally safe, he said, adding that modern manufacturing is highly technical.
There are over 1900 manufacturing establishments in Nebraska, making it the state’s second largest industry.
“Technology is moving forward and so is the manufacturing process,” manufacturing engineering manager Gene Herz said.
On these tours people can see the plant is clean and well-lit and unlike the manufacturing stereotype that surrounds them, Herz explained.
Manufacturing contributes to nearly $14 billion annually in Nebraska’s total economic output.
“The work ethic in this community is unlike anywhere else,” 11-year employee Herz said.
“A lot of people put their heart and soul into this job and manufacturing — they are what make this place.”
Open houses often allow employees to show their friends and family what they do, Herz said.
“It also gives the employees pride to let their family, friends and the community come through.”