Stanley Black & Decker could have put its new advanced manufacturing training and research center anywhere in the United States.
But when it came time to unveil the new hub late last year, the company chose downtown Hartford.
The reason was simple, executive vice president and chief financial officer Donald Allan Jr. said Oct. 26 at the 2018 Made in Connecticut Manufacturing Summit.
"We saw this as a great opportunity to invest in the state," Allan told more than 180 manufacturing leaders at the Trumbull event.
"It's an opportunity for us to help drive toward a big vision or objective: Can we become the hub for advanced manufacturing within America, within the world, right here in Connecticut?
"As a state, we don't always give ourselves enough credit for what's made here and our rich manufacturing history.
"Made in Connecticut—those are very powerful words."
Allan said Connecticut was at the forefront of the first two industrial revolutions, and there's no reason it can't lead the fourth—the merging of technological developments in several fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and the Internet of Things.
Stanley still manufactures tape measures in New Britain, but it has also diversified into the aerospace and defense industries, and even makes healthcare-related items.
"The new workforce that we require in advanced manufacturing is changing at a rapid pace," Allan said.
"We need highly skilled, digitally oriented, and very educated people in our manufacturing plants."
We don't always give ourselves enough credit. Made in Connecticut—those are very powerful words.
- Provide the state's workforce with necessary education and skills, including retraining
- Change the perception of manufacturing to a clean, well-paying, challenging career
- Adopt pro-growth policies to attract talent and investment
- Promote the state's resources and talents worldwide as an advanced manufacturing leader
- Ensure that businesses engage and help drive policy agendas with solutions
Connecticut's Fiscal Challenges
But before any of this can happen, Allan said, Connecticut must address its fiscal issues.
"The depth and severity of Connecticut's fiscal stability and competitive challenges are daunting," he said.
"Our state is on the most precarious financial footings of any state in the country.
“This election will be one of the most important in the history of our state as we choose our next governor and administration.
"A business-friendly environment is vital for restoring manufacturing and economic growth—that must be the focus of the next administration and legislature.
"We need to get to the right solutions and we need to begin to move our state forward in a more aggressive way."
Cycle of Innovation
After his address, Allan took questions on several topics from CBIA president & CEO Joe Brennan.
Here are some of his thoughts:
Stanley sees technology not as a means to replace workers, but to retrain them.
A business-friendly environment is vital for restoring manufacturing and economic growth—that must be the focus.
“Our cycle of innovation used to around two years. Now it's nine months.
"We see innovation as an effort to change the way we manufacture products, but we're going to need people to be successful and that means retraining our workers to meet the technology needs of the future."
'Tariffs Are a Blunt Axe'
Manufacturing can play an important role in resolving Connecticut's problems.
"Stanley Black & Decker's focus is more and more on what we can do to help fix the state's economy," he said.
"That's why we're pursuing opportunities for innovation and investing in that space to drive growth."
And, like many companies, Stanley is becoming increasingly concerned with the Trump administration's trade policies.
"Tariffs are like using a blunt ax to deal with the trade deficit situation," Allan said. "It's going to do some damage.
"Tariffs are not the right answer and people are going to start losing their jobs because of it."