I was five years old in December of 1974, and thanks to the magic of the holiday season I was also in joyful possession of an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle (with action figure). At the time, the Stunt Cycle set was manufactured by the Ideal Toy Company at its locations in in Hollis, Queens, New York, or Newark, New Jersey. It was the good ole’ US of A anyway. I couldn’t wait to get back to school and show off my sweet new ride. Back then, schools had an organized something called, “show and tell.” I couldn’t wait to both show and tell, because Evel Knievel was, to my mind, an absolute marvel. I wanted to be him. I wanted that red, white and blue uniform; this cannot be overlooked in terms of appeal to my younger self. My parents, however, are probably relieved to this day that I did not, in fact, springboard from my beloved Ideal Toys stunt cycle Christmas gift to a professional stunt career. I do, however, still work with organized show and tell, but now it’s called Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) and designed for big people.
This year’s MFG Day is on October 4, 2019, with over 2,000 events already registered on the MFG Day website. While every MFG Day event will be unique in some fashion, there are a few things that every host can do to make the most of this celebration of manufacturing.
Here are some tips that the members of the MEP National NetworkTM, participants in MFG Day since 2012, have found useful year after year.
If you haven’t already, make sure to visit the mfgday.com blog. It’s full of articles that will help you think about key aspects of your MFG Day event, such as:
Plus, the mfgday.com Resources section includes detailed instructional “toolkits” you can use to plan and promote your event, including:
MFG Day isn’t just any other day (or month) at your plant and it isn’t a typical plant tour. You’re inviting a lot of people — many of whom don’t know anything about manufacturing — into your facility to open their eyes to the reality and possibilities of manufacturing.
To connect with these newcomers, you’ll need to communicate effectively with them. You should:
For more detailed suggestions, make sure to read pages 11–12 of the MFG Day Host Toolkit.
While manufacturers are at the heart of MFG Day, your MFG Day event will be much more successful if you are able to engage your surrounding community. You can:
Many MEP Centers participate in MFG Day each year, helping hundreds of small and medium-sized manufacturers across the country plan, orchestrate, and promote their MFG Day events.
If you are considering hosting an MFG Day event and want some help planning your event, engaging your community, or simply navigating the mfgday.com online event registration process, your local MEP Center staff can help. Find the MEP Center in your state and reach out.
Ideal Toys is now defunct; their last great product was the Rubik’s Cube, although you may also know the company, founded by Morris and Rose Michtom in 1903 after they invented the teddy bear, for one of its other famous creations. Some of their most famous products included the Betsy Wetsy and Shirley Temple dolls, billed by the company, according to Collectors Weekly, as made of an unbreakable composition instead of the unglazed bisque that previously dominated the doll market. Once the largest doll-making company in the United States, Ideal Toys was eventually done in by competition and cheap knock-offs, particularly of the Rubik’s Cube, and today, after a series of sales and mergers, remains only as a brand, with many of the toys from its heyday now marketed and sold by other companies. Maybe they could have used a Manufacturing Day in their time, an opportunity to amplify their concerns and challenges, to take charge of their public image and connect with future generations.