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Q&A with Roy Sweatman, Owner/President of smt

Since its establishment in 1983, SMT has stood out as a leader in manufacturing high-precision components and assemblies for aircraft, aerospace and defense industries. The Manufacturing Alliance spoke to SMT Owner and President Roy Sweatman about where manufacturing stands today and what he expects from the industry in the future.

How would you describe the current state of manufacturing?

Manufacturing is alive and well in the United States. It’s what built this country and it’s what continues to build this country. Think about the thousands of parts that make up an airplane or an automobile. They have a complete supply chain of companies that provide those parts. Companies like us exist all over the country, and there are job opportunities with all of them.

What are the biggest developments that will affect manufacturing in the future?

There will be more automation. And I hate to use that word because it conjures up notions of people losing jobs to robots. But what it really does is make manufacturing companies more competitive and create opportunities for more highly skilled people.

How will automation affect SMT directly?

The machines are becoming more capable, and the computer controls more complex. So they can produce more, but that requires a higher skill level to manage them. Our people are going to need not just machining skills, but computer skills. Someone has to program these machines. They have to understand programs. They have to know what to do if there’s a problem or an issue.

How is SMT preparing for the future?

We are developing new technologies all the time, and offering training and apprenticeship programs to create a more highly skilled workforce.

What makes you most proud of the work you do?

I’m proud of the ability to make things that most people can’t make, and of the industries we serve. We have a big picture in our lobby of a soldier who set a record with a Javelin missile that had one of our parts. Every time someone flies on an airplane, it’s probably got one of our parts. We make parts to serve the military. When information comes back from Mars and some of these satellites, knowing our parts have been part of that — that’s something to be proud of.

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