Congressional Members Visit VEKA: Vinyl and Vocational Training Among Key Topics

August 30th, 2013 by DWM Magazine
Rep. Rothfus (right) visited VEKA last week and talked about everything from the LEED program to recruiting employees.

Rep. Rothfus (right) visited VEKA last week and talked about everything from the LEED program to recruiting employees.

VEKA was busy hosting congressional members to its plant last week, and discussing issues of importance to the door and window industry. Pennsylvania Congressman Keith Rothfus (Pa.-12) stopped at VEKA while visiting manufacturers, farms and schools in his district to help understand the concerns western Pennsylvania workers face in today’s challenging times.

At VEKA, the issues are no longer in dealing with a difficult economy, as the housing industry is turning around. Now the company is focusing on developing the future labor pool.

Western Pennsylvania has a rich history and tradition of producing skilled tradesman and craftsman, says Steve Dillon, marketing director. “We are seeing a slight decline in this area while experiencing new growth. The trades are heavily relied on in a manufacturing company such as VEKA.”

This issue also came up the following day when Pennsylvania State Representative Jim Marshall and a Pennsylvania Manufacturers Caucus visited the company. The caucus is comprised of bipartisan, local, county and state officials that form a delegation to help better understand the pressing issues that face our manufacturers such as healthcare costs, taxes, labor pool supply, etc. With the recent announcement of VEKA receiving state grants to help with their growing infrastructure, training and job growth, the caucus was keen on the reasons for VEKA’s continued growth over the past couple years. Discussions were held that included many of the same topics that were discussed with Congressman Rothfus. Local education and vocational trades at the high school level garnered particular attention for the caucus.

“We need to create awareness at the high school level, that a degree in the trades can provide for just as a lucrative career as any collegiate level or four-year degree can provide,” says Dillon. “And all manufacturers need to provide information on the types of jobs that are available from local manufacturers.”

At VEKA there are three local high schools in close proximity to the plant and the company offers trips for students throughout the school year. For Dillon, this issue hits particularly close to home.

“I went to votech around here and here I am 20 years later as marketing director for a huge company,” says Dillon. “VEKA has a responsibility to make sure funding is appropriated in the right places and that students are made aware of the opportunities and know there is a viable career out there in manufacturing.”

In addition to training, the current version of LEED was of particular interest to Rep. Rothfus and learning what his office could do to help to assist in the movement to deselect vinyl as a material in the awarding of LEED points.

“It’s hard to tell what will come of this,” Dillon tells DWM magazine. “It was obvious he wasn’t aware of this issue which I am sure is common. So we will follow up and contact his aides to push this a little further if it gets to that point.”

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