Tom Sega has a Zoom sit-down conversation with Jim Vinoski, Forbes Contributor and host of Manufacturing Talks podcast, on this week’s episode of Leader of the Pack, a podcast by Duluth Pack. Born in Ironwood, Michigan, Jim shares the story of his 30 years of experience working in manufacturing and his transition into other enterprises. Jim now continues his love of the industry as a Forbes Contributor and host of his own podcast, Manufacturing Talks.
Background on Jim Vinoski
Jim Vinoski starts by walking us through his upbringing. He was born in Ironwood, Michigan, roughly 20 miles from Lake Superior in the snow belt. In Ironwood, Michigan, the snowfall can reach up to 17 feet per season, and alpine skiing is a huge sport, but that was not for Jim. Although he liked snowshoeing, winter hiking, and cross-country skiing, Jim’s attention was captivated by biking. When Tom asks what led Jim to Mechanical Engineering, Jim’s love of cycling led to him fixing and maintaining his bicycle, which sparked his interest. Jim graduated from a catholic high school and went to college at a small university in Memphis, Tennessee, for mechanical engineering.
Jim’s 30 Years in Manufacturing
Tom talks to Jim about his entrance into the workforce, where they discuss Jim’s time working in chemicals, paint, and food and ingredients before he ended up working at General Mills for roughly half of his career. Jim worked his way up in General Mills for 16 years before seeking another challenge. Alongside his professional work as a mechanical engineer, Tom learns that Jim was also a homebrewer during a phase of his life. During that time, he was approached to run a plant in the beverage industry to produce bourbon. Tom asks Jim about distilling and creating bourbon and the time it takes before bourbon is ready.
During their conversation, Tom and Jim begin to discuss how manufacturing continues to evolve and how the pandemic has created new challenges. Jim comments that he struggles with the idea of a “supply chain” as it implies a linear chain, but Jim feels it can better be described as a plate of spaghetti. Tom asks Jim his feelings around these changes, and they both agree that the silver-lining of the pandemic has created this realization that the U.S needs to re-invest in mass production. In addition, they agree it can reduce the strained and tenuous relationship that the U.S. currently has with relying so heavily on other countries by seeking the cheapest bottom line.
Tom goes on to ask Jim what his favorite aspect of the industry is before they move into discussing his newest career move as a Forbes Contributor, to which Jim says, “I just treasure the people of this world, because as I have taken to saying. Unlike so many other industries, in manufacturing, there is no hiding.” Jim goes on to say that in production, companies are either making a profit or companies are going out of business. This transparency forces people to be quick thinkers and to pivot quickly. Finally, Jim mentions the strength he has seen and the commitment of folks to deliver the goods when it comes to this group, which he strongly dislikes.
Jim’s Current Position as a Forbes Contributor
Tom proceeds to ask Jim about his new career change and how he worked in manufacturing to become a Forbes Contributor and Podcast Host. Jim explains that his experience working in so many manufacturing realms and his excitement to convey this information to others led to him posting articles on LinkedIn and getting him noticed by Forbes. Jim attributes himself becoming a Forbes Contributor as an act of God in how it came to fruition. Next, Tom asks Jim about his experiences writing for Forbes and how Jim still finds new items to write about after 200 published articles and almost a million page views in three years. Jim explained that he is constantly being flooded with new ideas and being pitched, so he is blessed to have plenty to write about.
Tom and Jim’s conversation about his experience in the world of manufacturing and his transition from working hands-on in that realm to sharing insights from this industry utilizing his writing is a fascinating discussion. From Jim’s wide range of experience to his ability to communicate and convey his ideas with the masses through his writing gives you a unique view into a realm that many of us do not know many details about. Thank you, Jim, for taking the time to share your story with us.