Business growth and the future of manufacturing in Western New York were overarching themes at a manufacturing-themed panel discussion Jan. 30.
Approximately 160 people attended the first of this year's Business First Power Breakfast series. The event was held at Salvatore's Italian Gardens in Depew.
A four-person panel discussed international trade challenges, how to find quality workers, government regulations and health insurance issues.
Panelists were Benjamin Harp, COO of Polymer Conversions Inc.; Terry Galanis Jr., president of Sealing Devices Inc.; Rick Smith, president of Rigidized Metals Corp.; and Kenneth Snyder, president of Hebeler Corp.
Panelists talked about growth and their experiences in deciding whether to move their companies to be closer to a skilled labor force and customers. While Smith said he wouldn't consider doing so, Snyder and Galanis said they would.
Harp was intrigued by the idea, as it made his company seem more diverse to existing and potential customers.
Snyder told a story about meeting with a client regarding the conversion of truck fleets to natural gas and someone was there to talk to him about moving the business. There was an accompanying incentive package to do so.
Regarding the difficulty in hiring skilled workers, a common lament among manufacturers, Smith said those with engineering skills are now being sought to do what amounts to what he called an "artful approach" that more-experienced craftsmen are adept at.
Galanis agreed, adding that expertise for design is difficult to come by.
Business First hosts Power Breakfasts year-round, with area business leaders discussing issues that affect their companies and industries. As the events are scheduled, they are posted on the events tab at buffalo.bizjournals.com.