From Aerospace to Ice Cream Sandwiches: LI’s Evolving Manufacturing Sector Seeks to Attract Students
The future of Long Island’s manufacturing sector does not depend solely on the aerospace industry of years past. For Natalia Sandor, an entrepreneur from Bayport, the future is ice cream.
In 2017, Sandor started Sand Bars Handcrafted, an ice cream sandwich company, as a student at Macaulay Honors College at CUNY’s College of Staten Island.
To grow his business, Sandor, 22, had to rely on machines that could help him mix the dough and cut the cookies that hold his ice cream sandwiches together.
“A lot of challenges and surprises have arisen as you grow and try to maintain the quality,” Sandor said. “The shape of the bar is difficult from a manufacturing point of view.”
Sandor said she was able to increase production to around 1,000 sandwiches per week; it took weeks to fill orders for 200.
Its sandwiches, which feature five flavors of ice cream between thin chocolate chip cookies, are sold at 20 locations on Long Island, including Silly Lily Fishing Station in East Moriches, Babinski’s Farm Stand at Water Mill, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. at Peconic.
Sandor was one of the presenters for Manufacturing Day, hosted on Friday by a coalition of manufacturers, universities and business groups, including HIA-LI, Ignite Long Island and ADDAPT. The event took place in a virtual format for the second time.
The aim is to promote the region’s manufacturing sector to students while helping businesses in the region to develop a pool of local talent. A priority for event organizers is to develop “connections and relationships between manufacturers and schools,” said Ron Loveland, president of Summit Safety & Efficiency Solutions, a manufacturing consulting firm in Miller Place, and co-chairman of HIA-LI.
“Employers in New York State have jobs they can’t fill because there just aren’t enough workers with a specific set of skills that we need,” said Roberta Reardon, state labor commissioner, in a video released at the event. “Engaging all of you, from young people thinking about your career path to our business community, educators and stakeholders, is an important part of the solution. “
There were 67,500 people employed by manufacturing companies on Long Island in August, making it the island’s seventh largest industry. It grew 2.9% from its size in August 2020. All of this growth was in the manufacturing of non-durable goods, such as food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
Last year, the average salary in the industry was $ 73,000. Pharmaceuticals represent the largest local segment of manufacturing.
Manufacturers in the region have engineering, accounting and marketing jobs that require four-year degrees, but also machinists and sheet metal operators who bring in technical skills.
“We have to try to break down the idea that everyone has to go to college and that no one else can do anything else,” said Joe Spinosa, vice president of business development at East / West Industries, which manufactures seating systems and emergency oxygen systems for commercial companies and manufacturers of military aircraft. The company recently reached an agreement with the helicopter maker Bell to build seats for its planes.
Spinosa sees the annual Manufacturing Day event as a chance to give local students a glimpse into careers in the industry – or imagine starting their own business. “It’s about planting the seeds and doing the watering and fertilizing to make sure our work is continuously developed,” he said. “As people retire, you want people to come in and be mentored. “
Sandor said the entrepreneurial skills she was learning can be applied to many different disciplines. “It doesn’t matter whether my business fails or the next Chipwich is the next. It depends on the education I get,” she said.