Leominster, MA – Nov. 8, 2019 – AIS, the largest manufacturer of commercial office furniture and seating in New England, celebrated Manufacturing Month with a number of events and educational sessions throughout October. Events included visits by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, tours and discussions for local students, and an employee appreciation day.
The official national Manufacturing Day was Oct. 4 (held annually the first Friday of October); AIS held events that day as well as throughout the month. Manufacturing Month activities focused on the importance of manufacturing to the local economy. The events also helped AIS to mark its 30th anniversary. The company was founded in October 1989 by Bruce Platzman and Arthur Maxwell.
“When a local economy rests on a solid manufacturing foundation, local businesses of all sizes and industries benefit. We’re proud to be the largest employer and manufacturer in Leominster and proud to be celebrating 30 years,” AIS President and CEO Bruce Platzman said.
Manufacturing is 10.1 percent of Massachusetts’ total economic output and comprises 7.8 percent of the Commonwealth’s workforce (about 250,000 people in the state work in manufacturing), according to MassDevelopment.
With over 600 employees who work in manufacturing jobs at its headquarters location, AIS is one of the largest employers in traditional manufacturing in the state of Massachusetts. More than 250 women work at AIS’s Leominster location, and more than 30 countries are represented in the employee population. With 800 employees nationwide and annual sales of more than $220 million, AIS’s dealer-centric focus and network extends across North America. AIS has been awarded “Manufacturer of the Year” from the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance eight times since 2008.
Manufacturing Month Activities
On Oct. 4, AIS hosted students from Forest Grove Middle School, Worcester East Middle School and Worcester Technical High School. More than 100 students and teachers enjoyed showroom and factory tours and participated in a panel discussion with AIS employees.
Visitors learned how AIS has earned acclaim for product design, just-in-time manufacturing and sustainability across the industry. The company is a recipient of the prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing.
Students and teachers from Nashoba Regional High School visited AIS on Oct. 8. They learned about the business side of manufacturing as well as the technical aspects of the industry. They toured the company’s factory and showroom, listened to presentations from AIS employees, participated in mock sales and design activities, and socialized with AIS team members over lunch.
“AIS is opening more minds to what manufacturing really is in the 21st century,” said Nashoba Regional High School Department Chair for Business and Technology Mary Marotta. “By connecting with students and addressing common misconceptions about the manufacturing industry, Manufacturing Day is one step in filling the skilled labor shortage and ensuring the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry in Central Massachusetts.”
Governor Charlie Baker visited AIS on Oct. 9, touring the manufacturing floor, meeting employees and presenting a proclamation declaring October to be Manufacturing Month in Massachusetts.
“Manufacturing continues to be an important economic driver of the economy in the Commonwealth,” Governor Baker said. “The state is home to over 7,000 manufacturing companies and 250,000 manufacturing employees. I am proud to be here at AIS to celebrate Manufacturing Month and all of the continued contributions this company – and so many others throughout the state – make to our economy every day.”
(See news about Governor Baker’s visit at https://www.ais-inc.com/about/news-events/governor-baker-celebrates-manufacturing-month-with-visit-to-ais.)
AIS recently received the Worcester Business Journal’s 2019 Manufacturing General Excellence Award and the MassHire North Central and Central Region Workforce Boards’ Growing and Readying Our Workforce (GROW) Award. Additionally, AIS was a recipient of the 2019 Boston Business Journal Corporate Citizenship Award, given to the top charitable contributors in Massachusetts.
AIS honored its employees with an appreciation day on Oct. 11 that included a picnic under a huge tent at headquarters catered by local food-truck companies. At the event, Platzman awarded the Barney Platzman Award to Francesca Jimenez Vega. The award, given annually, is named for the CEO’s father and given to an AIS factory team member selected for his or her hard work and dedication. This is the first year that a woman has won the Barney Platzman Award.
“AIS thanks Francesca for her dedication, and we are so thankful for all the hardworking employees we have. We would not be where we are without them,” Platzman said.
Oct. 17 brought more visits from business and political leaders, and students. AIS was the first stop in a tour of Central Massachusetts sponsored by the Mass Office of Business Development and the Mass Office of International Trade and Investment. Nearly 30 international delegates visited the AIS factory and showroom. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Platzman welcomed the crowd and shared their love of the region.
“Manufacturing is an industry that matters to us in the Commonwealth,” Polito said. “Five years ago, we restructured our thinking around manufacturing. A lot of the things that needed to be made were being shipped out, and we wanted to retain the ability to [make things] here. We invested in the industry – over $100 million. And the most important piece of what is driving this economy in Massachusetts is our investment in people.”
During a tour of the factory, Platzman noted the many flags of various countries hanging on a huge wall, each denoting the home countries of AIS employees. Platzman said to the group, “ If your country’s flag is not represented here, let’s work on it!”
(See news about Lieutenant Governor Polito’s visit at https://www.ais-inc.com/about/news-events/massachusetts-lieutenant-governor-and-international-delegation-visit-ais.)
Later that day, AIS hosted the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for factory and showroom tours. The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation partnered with AIS to provide the experience for the club members.
On Oct. 25, Massachusetts Senator Dean Tran visited AIS and presented the company with a special citation honoring AIS’s 30 years in the state of Massachusetts. In 2018, Tran had nominated AIS “Manufacturer of the Year” for Central Massachusetts.
“AIS is a true partner in the region,” said Senator Tran (Fitchburg). “Not only are the company’s quality products unmatched in the industry, their involvement and volunteer work in the region are second to none. AIS’s commitment to the community is greatly appreciated.”
On Oct. 29, AIS hosted a “CEO Unplugged” event presented by the North Central Chamber of Commerce. Platzman spoke to chamber members about how AIS has evolved over the past 30 years. Attendees also enjoyed a facility tour.
Later that day, AIS hosted the October Young Professionals of North Central Massachusetts networking series. Designed for professionals in the region who are 40 years old and under, the goal of this group is to build meaningful, professional and sustainable relationships.
“AIS is committed to being a MassMade company that prides itself on its role in the local community, in the state and in our country,” Platzman said. “It's been an incredible 30 years and there is so much more ahead of us!”
AIS, headquartered in Leominster, Massachusetts, is a leading manufacturer of commercial office furniture and boasts one of the most impressive stories of growth and success in the furniture industry. Founded in 1989, the company is known for offering market-relevant, feature-rich product lines that entice designers and support the diverse needs of end-users while offering exceptional value. AIS is an innovator that leads the industry in sustainable, lean manufacturing, lead-time performance and manufacturing flexibility. AIS has permanent showrooms at its Leominster headquarters and also in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. With locations across the U.S., AIS has more than 800 employees and over 1 million square feet of office, showroom and factory space. Projected sales for 2019 are $220 million. For more information, visit www.ais-inc.com.
ABOUT MANUFACTURING DAY – https://www.mfgday.com/about-us
THE MANUFACTURING DAY MISSION
Manufacturing Day addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry. MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, MFG DAY empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.
WHO’S BEHIND MANUFACTURING DAY?
Created by Founding Partner Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International in 2012, MFG DAY has enjoyed support from many organizations aligned with its mission of positively changing the public perception of modern manufacturing. Organizations that have played a vital role in working with FMA to successfully grow this national celebration of all things manufacturing include the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MFG DAY is now produced annually by the NAM with key contributions and support from the MEP and the MI.
ABOUT THE NAM
The NAM is the preeminent U.S. manufacturers association, as well as the nation’s largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.
The National Association of Manufacturers