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Drew Greenblatt, president and owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products. (File)

Manufacturing leaders share visions of ‘fourth Industrial Revolution’

Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association, admires a student's drone at Marlin Steel as part of his 2016 State of Manufacturing tour, which concluded in Baltimore on Friday. (The Daily Record / Anamika Roy)

Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association, admires a student’s drone at Marlin Steel as part of his 2016 State of Manufacturing tour, which concluded in Baltimore on Friday. (The Daily Record / Anamika Roy)

As new technology makes its way through the country’s manufacturing sector, business leaders hope to see what they call a “fourth Industrial Revolution” in Maryland and across the country.

The National Association of Manufacturers concluded Friday a 10-day, seven-state manufacturing tour with a visit to Under Armour and Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore.

“We can’t take for granted that we have always been a manufacturing powerhouse,” said Jay Timmons, the organizations president and CEO, during the stop at Marlin.

With nearly 3,000 manufacturing firms in the state, Maryland manufacturers produce almost 6 percent of the state’s total gross product and employ nearly 4 percent of the state’s workforce, some 102,000 people. Those employees had average annual salary of just over $80,000, according to 2013 date from NAM.

The top three manufacturing sectors in Maryland include chemical products, followed by computer and electronics products and food, beverage and tobacco products. The state’s manufacturing output mostly has been on the rise since 2000, when Maryland manufacturing output was around $14 billion. As of 2014, the state’s manufacturing output was almost $20 billion.

Local companies are looking to continue that trend in Baltimore. Through its new City Garage facility in Port Covington, Under Armour has been working on finding ways to make shirts and shoes to meet local demand.

Founded in Brooklyn in 1968, Marlin Steel was moved to Baltimore in 1998 when it was acquired by its current CEO, Drew Greenblatt. The company was best known for making bagel baskets, but Marlin’s sales diminished as baskets for half the price from Asia started flooding the market. The company got its footing back by investing in a new strategy Greenblatt described as “quality engineered quick,” which included investing in $4 million worth of robots. Now, some 20 percent of the company’s workforce is trained engineers.

“The future is to have high tech automation and well-trained employees growing,” said Greenblatt.

Siemens USA CEO Eric Spiegel was also at Marlin on Friday to talk about the future of manufacturing in the United States. Siemens has 89 facilities in the country and is one of Marlin’s suppliers.

“I think for decades we’ve heard this storyline that the manufacturing jobs are disappearing,” said Spiegel. “It’s great to see leaders like Drew (Greenblatt) and Kevin Plank really bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. and back to the Baltimore area.”

After the remarks Friday, students from various Baltimore schools and clubs that deal with manufacturing and technology had a chance to showcase their work. Students ranged from an 11-year-old who just took her first robotics class at the Baltimore Robotics Center, to high schoolers making drones through the Digital Harbor Foundation to MICA students fusing art with technology and finding a way to turn that into a career.

Timmons sees those projects as a way to change the face of manufacturing in the U.S.

“This is a perfect example of the opportunities available,” he said.