Youngiefest sets eyes on the future
(This is the second and final part of this feature on Joe Young and his Youngiefest event.)
When Joe Young put together his first Youngiefest celebration, it was a gathering of his former students who had gone on to become successful businessmen.
“When I talked to these men and realized what they have accomplished, it keyed something in my mind,” Young said. “Some students in schools today are bored with traditional school classroom instruction, just like some of the people in my classes.”
This year’s Youngiefest was held May 18 at Victor C. Talotta Park, Cementon.
“I’m not only going to invite successful businessmen to Youngiefest next year, I am going to invite students, too,” he noted. “They can talk with these guys, and maybe the students will find what they are looking for,” he said.
Young is not looking at this like a job fair, but he wants to stimulate interest.
“We don’t want to do something formal, but kids interested in the trades should be talking with successful men and women,” Young said. “They are not going to get encouragement from high school guidance counselors because counselors don’t know our business,” he said.
Young wants to see more women in the field, too.
“Women have the patience and attention to detail that we need,” he said.
According to Young, what he sees in his students are kids who have no desire to sit behind a desk and push papers all day.
“Students interested in the trades are focused on what they want to do,” he said. “Most students wander through courses and get out of high school and don’t know what they want. They go to college and waste four more years trying to figure things out,” he said.
To verify his claim, Young asked how many employed college graduates are doing a job that they studied for in college.
“The stuff that they say about college is just not true; you don’t make more money or have a better life just because you went to college,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Young talked about Glen Seng. His business, Seng Manufacturing, makes Hurst shifter knobs. He can customize any shifter, and he has a lock on the market.
“His business makes about $1.5 million a year. No one else in the world can compete with him,” Young said.
Seng started making shifter knobs before he graduated from high school.
Seng’s story is not unusual. Dalla’s Machine in Schnecksville, founded by Jim DallaPalu, is a highly successful machine shop with an international reputation. They offer a six-year training program that leads to a Master Machinist Trade certification.
“American companies got lazy and focused on getting costs down to compete. Companies started farming the machine work out to China. Now we have limited skills in America. Low-cost labor doesn’t make durable parts as well as we can. We need to have these machinist skills in this country. We don’t know who our international friends are, and they can change,” he said.
According to Young, he sees the tide is shifting. Machinist jobs are coming back to America as manufacturers realize the importance of durability.
“The parts made at Phoenix Forging, in Catasauqua, are known for their reliability,” he noted. “Everyone there is treated fairly, and the company is not trying to take all the money short term. They want the business to continue,” Young said.
Youngiefest next year?
“I think I’m going to have it inside, but it will still be free,” he said.