man·u·fac·to·ry

[man-yuh-fak-tuh-ree]
Noun (archaic)
Definition: A factory.

The word factory is not a new word. It is an old word with its hand cut off.

The word manufactory comes from Latin, manufacta, (manu = hand + facta = made): made-by-hand. Manufactory was common English from the late 1700s up until the early 1900s. Maybe your grandpa even worked in one.

The word has all but disappeared today, probably because “handmade” has all but disappeared. Just about nobody makes things by hand on a large scale anymore. Big buildings full of people making things are now just mass-production Factories. No manu needed.

Hands have been replaced by machines… or even by robots.

So now you know the scary truth: your hands are obsolete and probably you are, too.

Elon Musk, Tesla car creator and Space-X pioneer, takes it one step farther. He says, “The factory is the machine that builds the machine.”

For the lighter side, we can turn to the late Warren Bennis, an American pioneer in leadership studies, who predicted, “The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”

If I worked in a factory, I would want it to be Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory… as a quality control inspector.

So I do believe in factories after all. And mostly I believe people are more important in factories than ever. It really does take people… smart people, clever people and people with more skills than ever to make the things we want and need.

In the old days, handmade meant wielding hammers and wrenches and basic hand-held tools. Today it is just the same, except the tools are much more complicated and sophisticated. Industrial workers have to be smarter today than anybody who got by with muscle power in an old manufactory. Some were fine craftsmen back in the day, too, but today’s craftsmen have even finer tools to craft even more sophisticated goods.

Factories today stand at the top of the economic chain. They have simply evolved the way a cave dweller’s bone flute has evolved into a Steinway Grand Piano or Fred Flintstone’s buggy has evolved into a Tesla 2017 Model S with its 691 hp. electric motor. You can bet Mr. Tesla counts on his people for that, and even for building his spaceships.

This week your Jamestown Gazette invites you to take another look at our own local manufacturers and industries. They are the motors driving our local economy.

With about one in five of our local workers making their living in local industries, we can be glad the manufactories of old have morphed into the factories of today.

Among the many critical issues we face in the coming elections, be sure to look for the positions and plans the candidates you vote for will bring to our crucial industrial base. Find out how they will build and attract more of the manufacturing fuel our economic engine needs.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut