Manufacturing must endure while new ideas must flourish, E. Gorden Gee, president of The Ohio State University, told a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting audience Tuesday.
“We are the smoke stacks of this century,” Gee told listeners at the Benjamin & Marion Schuster Performing Arts Center, referring to universities and colleges.
Gee praised Dayton, the chamber and the Schuster Center before speaking about what he called a “gap” between manufacturing and the new ideas of the 21st century. He also had kind words for Wright State University and Sinclair Community College, calling the latter “in many ways the finest community college in the country.”
He identified the “gap” as the area between “Manufacturing must continue,” and “(New) ideas must flourish.”
Gee believes that Ohio is increasingly attractive to young professionals, many of whom grew up in the state and have achieved success elsewhere in the nation. He related how a young woman in Arizona once asked him: “I couldn’t say it more clearly. Find me a job in Ohio.”
“The minute they could find a job, they moved back to Ohio,” Gee said of these young professionals.
The chamber honored a new manufacturer as the recipient of this year’s Soin Award for Innovation, the chamber’s salute to new companies demonstrating a promising product with a technological edge. UDECX, a Miamisburg-based designer and producer of modular, portable, thermoplastic decking, shelving and flooring, received this year’s Soin Award.
The UDECX decking system is meant to be easy for most homeowners to assemble themselves in about two hours. Panels and pads are long-lasting and can be disassembled when homeowners move, the company says.
In a recorded introduction to the company played for the audience, Tony Desjardins, UDECX chief executive, said it’s his goal for UDECX to “become a common name,” he said.
The company prides itself on its ties to Dayton-area and Ohio companies, including CTC Plastics in Dayton. (CTC is a Soin International company. Desjardins earlier told the Dayton Daily News that Vishal Soin — the president of Soin International who also sits on the Soin Award selection committee — removed himself from the award selection process when it came to UDECX’s presentation. )
Other company parts are made by Associated Plastics in Ada, Ohio. The company has also had support from the Dayton Development Coalition and the Connor Group Foundation Seed Investment Fund.
“We know Dayton has a really strong history of manufacturing, and what we wanted to do was be a part of bringing that back,” Mike Weaver, UDECX chief marketing officer, said in the recorded introduction.