For some, the word “manufacturing” evokes images of dark and grimy factories, monotonous assembly line production, and the slow tick of the time clock.
Stanton Hall hopes that when future generations think “manufacturing,” another image comes to mind: That of him and his young family, living the life they always dreamed of living.
“My fence is brown, not white picket, but I have that storybook life. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve ever wanted to because I went to South Piedmont and pursued a career in manufacturing,” he said.
“Manufacturing has given me everything I ever dreamed of. I think it’s time to rediscover manufacturing, in a lot of ways. It offers more opportunities than I think most people realize.”
Hall, a native of Monroe, graduated from Parkwood High School in 2011. His father was a truck driver. His mother still works as a data manager for a local school district. Money was always tight, and Hall knew that if he wanted more for himself financially, he was going to have to advance his education.
He received a scholarship to a four-year university, but after the first semester, decided it wasn’t for him.
“Life caught up. I still had bills to pay even though I was in school. I either needed to work or get a degree, and I chose to work,” he said.
Hall dropped out of college and worked a variety of jobs, including five years at a grocery store distribution center. Eventually, life’s path led him to Greiner Bio-One and South Piedmont.
Seeking a job that might eventually grow into a career, Hall applied to work as a warehouse supervisor for Greiner Bio-One, an international medical technology manufacturer with operations in Monroe. Not long after he submitted his application, a representative from the company called to ask if he’d be interested in Greiner’s apprenticeship program with South Piedmont.
Apprenticeships combine on-the-job and classroom instruction. Apprentices work for their employers while also completing coursework at South Piedmont Community College. Apprentices thereby receive the skills and education they need to grow into leaders of their organizations.
“At the time, I had to take a pay cut to become an apprentice, but I thought about it, and I decided that in the long run, this was going to be a good investment in myself and my future. I would learn, earn a degree, and be working for a company that would offer me chances to grow,” he said.
Hall graduated with his associate degree in industrial systems technology in 2018. He has since advanced in his career at Greiner Bio-One, moving from the role of process technician to now process lead.
As process lead, he supervises a team of about 12 employees and oversees the creation of machine processes that are used to produce medical devices and labware templates for a variety of products.
Rather than a dark and grimy factory, Hall works in a state-of-the-art facility —and several times, his work has taken him to Greiner Bio-One’s operations in Germany and Austria.
Rather than monotonous assembly line work, every day brings Hall new challenges and the enjoyment of working with his hands.
“I wasn’t cut out to sit in a classroom or an office all day,” he said. “I like doing things that are hands-on. I love using what I’ve learned to solve new problems.”
Rather than waiting to clock out, Hall goes to work every day with a sense of pride in what he does.
“I had to get an appendectomy in 2021, and I was in the hospital, and I noticed they were using products made here at Greiner Bio-One. It was a great feeling,” he said.
“I get to help make products that are literally being used to help save people’s lives.”
Manufacturing is also providing him and his wife, Morgan, and their two young children, the kind of life he dreamed of living while he was growing up.
“I’ve been able to buy a house and cars. I’ve been able to do everything at 30 that most people struggle to do well into their 50s and 60s,” he said.
“I wanted my wife to be a stay-at-home mom and focus on our family. My income allows her to do that. I wanted to be able to take family vacations, and we do. I’ve been able to create the lifestyle I always wanted.”
When future generations think of manufacturing — and community college manufacturing pathways — Hall hopes stories like his come to mind rather than outdated misperceptions.
“I went to South Piedmont, and I got a degree that was perfectly geared for the things I wanted in life,” he said.
“You can have everything you want with a community college education and a career in manufacturing — I’m proof.”
South Piedmont offers several programs designed for students seeking careers in manufacturing, including welding, mechatronics, and industrial maintenance. For more information, visit https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/manufacturing/. South Piedmont is currently sponsoring apprenticeship programs with employers in industries including education, healthcare, and manufacturing. For more information, https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/business-and-industry-training/apprenticeships/.
Celebrated the first Friday in October, MFG Day is an initiative of the Manufacturing Institute that aims to positively shift perceptions of the manufacturing industry and inspire future generations to consider manufacturing careers.