New leader of manufacturers group looks to attract, keep young work force

By Angela Carter, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Attracting and retaining young workers to replenish an aging work force, and selling manufacturing as a rewarding career with competitive pay will be key thrusts of the New Haven Manufacturers Association as Nicholas Lavorato of Branford takes the helm.

Lavorato was elected this week to a two-year term as president of the association. He has been a member of its board of directors since 2002 and works as an adviser for CONNSTEP, a state-funded manufacturing consulting group in Rocky Hill.

“I believe the good news is manufacturing in Connecticut is alive and well,” Lavorato said during the association’s annual meeting held Thursday night at Amarante’s Sea Cliff.

Lavorato said he plans to lead efforts to build partnerships with work force development organizations for expanding job-training initiatives, as well as collaborate with educational institutions to improve outcomes in primary, secondary and post-secondary education and debunk misconceptions about the manufacturing industry.

“Manufacturing used to be thought of as the 3 Ds: dark, dirty and dingy,” said association board member Jamison Scott of Air Handling Systems in Woodbridge. “Manufacturing is cleaner and much more high-tech today.”

The association has more than 80 members who employ more than 8,000 workers.

The meeting’s keynote speaker, Rob G. Leyden, market leader of Connecticut sales for HealthNet in Shelton, advised business leaders to be cautious of universal health care promotions.

He grew up in Canada and told of his father losing his ability to walk because he had to wait six months for knee surgery after a car accident. Canadians are crossing the border for faster care in U.S. clinics, he said. “Nothing is for free,” he said. “The cost of delivering health care doesn’t go away. Someone has to pay for it.”

Other new officers elected to the association are Bob Cowles of Cougar Electronics Corp., first vice president; Paul Hoffman of Orange Research, second vice president and secretary; and Paul Caiafa of Solakian Caiafa & Co., treasurer. "Jack Traver Jr. of Traver IDC – newly elected president of the Smaller Manufacturer’s Association (SMA) was elected to the NHMA board of directors.