Congresswoman Diane Black toured the Rock-Tenn plant in Lebanon on Monday morning to gain further insight into factory environment for workers and the needs of employers.
The Lebanon location of Rock-Tenn creates folding packages and containers that many people recognize as food or to-go boxes. The containers are leak resistant, stackable and feature a unique locking system to keep contents fresh.
Black said the process of making the containers is important because of the small details that must come together to create them.
“When you’re cutting, you have to be very specific with some of the lines and edges or the boxes won’t fold, you can’t guesstimate,” Black said. “That means that you have to have good math skills in order to get those measurements that are sometimes down to hundreds of a fraction difference.”
Black said the visit helped her understand the needs of the community and push for funding that addresses those needs. She said it also helped her gain further understanding about the needs of employers in her district, which includes Wilson County, and what they look for in perspective employees.
“They need employees who have good math, technical and computer skills. That means they need a solid high school education and tech school or college education.”
Several Wilson County leaders met earlier this month with the Nashville Region’s Vitals Signs in order to identify trends and address concerns about the economy of the region. One of the topics discussed is the future need of an educated workforce.
“Factories, stats and future indications show that there’s going to be a shift to a workforce that is educated,” Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said, “and that’s why we’re looking for the best ways to incorporate here to encourage adults to get additional education.”
Black said additional education could be the difference in a company losing large amounts of money for a problem that could have easily been fixed with the right personnel.
“Some of these machines are creating over 50,000 items an hour and a million a day, so imagine if a machine breaks down for just an hour. How much money would the company lose?”
Black said the tour helped her to further see the benefits of working in factories for some people.
“These are very decent jobs, especially for people out of high school that may have some college experience,” Black said. “Some of the people I talked to here told me they have 15 to 30 years of experience. You can work your way to supervisor and other titles and the working conditions are good.”
Black said her favorite part of the tour was watching the process of creating the packages from start to end. She said on her high school aptitude test, a test designed to determine a person’s ability in a particular job field, she scored the highest in engineering or nursing.
Black chose the latter, but said she could see herself as a supervisor of a plant and would probably love the position.
Black will speak at the Farm Bureau Town Hall on Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Lebanon.