Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Making It in Zelienople, U.S. Manufacturing in Microcosm

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Making It in Zelienople, U.S. Manufacturing in Microcosm

Article excerpt

The state of American manufacturing has been a hot topic this election year. It's also a staple of daily conversation, as people realize how few of the products they buy carry a "Made in America" label. The items that emerge from Penna Flame Industries, a third-generation family company in Zelienople, are uncommon. But the strategy that the Orr family is using to expand and strengthen its business reflects the state of U.S. manufacturing today.

As described by Post-Gazette business writer Len Boselovic last week, Penna Flame has embraced robots to perform its core function: blasting steel pieces with heat reaching 1,650 degrees, cooling them down with liquid and creating a super-hard surface. The result is components suitable, for example, for the launch pad of the Space Shuttle.

The skilled craftsmen whom firms used to employ by the score are "just not here anymore," said Jim Orr, president of Penna Flame, which has 25 employees. …

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