Garry Hojan has worked at Aerocet, a manufacturer of floats for airplanes, for nearly eight years, starting in production and working his way through different departments to become the Operations Manager. Previously, he was vice president for an engineering firm with more than 13,000 employees and 243 offices worldwide. Recently, the company hosted its Congressional Representative Walt Minnick during a plant tour.

What should people expect from a congressional plant tour?

I met Rep. Minnick, his staff, and the Priest River city mayor and his staff at our production entrance. We started with introductions, took some photos and began with a safety briefing. We then began the tour of our facilities, which focused on production, machining, assembly, and engineering. At the end of the tour we had refreshments and continued discussions and answered questions that came up during the tour.

What details are important to a successful plant tour?

At each stage of the tour we had sample stations of completed work or components for hands-on experience and a more up close look. We also arranged for Rep. Minnick to start the resin infusion on a 21-foot long part to give a more interactive feel to the tour and for him to experience at least one part of the process. It also created a good photo opportunity.

What advice would you offer to others setting up a plant tour?

Number one: Just do it. Small or large, many employees or just one, it is a good idea to make contact and let your representatives know that you would like to invite them to see what you do, then follow up with a phone call to their offices.

I would suggest reading ACMA’s Plant Tour Guidebook. Even if a company has a standard plant tour practice, there could be suggestions that may not be included as standard practice on most facility tours.

Definitely do your homework on the dignitary that is coming to visit. This will give you something to talk about and it shows that you have taken an interest in them as well. Give their offices a call and ask if there are any special considerations that you should be aware of during the plant tour. You could also ask if they have any preferences, like water over coffee, or a particular type of soda or snack. This will also allow you to better plan the tour, for instance, if some of the staffers coming along are disabled. You don’t want to include items in the tour that might be an issue for wheelchairs.