Congressman Long visits ASI in Monett

Saturday, May 7, 2016
Seventh District Congressman Billy Long stopped at Architectural Systems Inc. in Monett during his annual manufacturing tour. Long, right, spoke with Scott Beckwith, company owner and co-president, about the widespread need for labor by manufacturers in southwest Missouri. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

Owner: Biggest need is support labor force

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long heard about manufacturing processes and labor needs during his stop at Architectural Systems Inc. in Monett this week, part of Long's annual manufacturing tour.

Representatives of the Missouri Industry Council, the city of Monett and the Monett Chamber of Commerce also took part a tour of the plant. Jason Prine, project manger for ASI, showed a video describing various plant processes and products, prior to a walk-through of the industrial plant on Highway 60.

Civic and city leaders greeted Seventh District Congressman Billy Long as he visited Architectural Systems as part of his manufacturing tour. Pictured, from left, are: Monett Utilities Superintendent Skip Schaller, Monett City Administrator Dennis Pyle, Chamber of Commerce President Keith McCracken and Long. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

Other than working through requirements of the Affordable Care Act, owner and co-president Scott Beckwith said his biggest concern was sustaining his workforce in Monett and in Aurora and Granby, where ASI has plants.

Long said he heard concerns about sustaining employee numbers from

many employers.

"It's not just Monett," Long said.

Digital Monitoring Production is adding 7,400 square feet to its plant, but now has to find engineers to keep it staffed. Other careers, such as nursing, Long noted, are offering jobs to people still in school.

Most companies, Long said, have a core making up about 60 percent of their workforce, and struggle to keep the remaining 40 percent filled. Beckwith agreed that model describes his business 
as well.

The strong work ethic in the area continues to justify why employers stay located here. Beckwith said he is sending 200 truckloads of product to a construction project in New York City.

"The work ethic here offsets the freight costs," he said.

Long agreed, recounting how he toured the offices of Expedia.com at the Springfield airport, which occupy one of the terminal buildings. The company originally planned to run a six-month operation in Springfield after buying Travel.com, then move the employees. However, Expedia found people worked harder in southwest Missouri than in any other city, leading them to expand their entire local operation rather than close it. Nationwide calls to Hotels.com are now being answered by Expedia staff in Springfield. Executives from Expedia flew to Springfield from company headquarters in Seattle to meet Long, which he found flattering, since he did not consider himself to rank so highly among the influential members of Congress.

Prine reported ASI has customers nationwide. One job requires shipment of more than 90,000 industrial parts in 52 trucks to Chicago.

A Long staff spokesman said the one-day manufacturing tour provides opportunities to meet with many producers in small towns, where he said a surprising amount of manufacturing takes place.

On the tour, Long also visited Digital Monitoring Production in Springfield, Holden Industries in Southwest City and Precision Products in Webb City.

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