By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Jimmy Davis has always been curious.
However, growing up he never thought about manufacturing. That curiosity came later along with his passion for mechatronics.
“I just like to see how things are made,” said Davis, founder of The Davis Groupe.
“Take this straw for instance, it looks so simple,” he continued. “People don’t understand the engineering that goes behind making the equipment to make this straw.”
Davis is not interested in straws, per se, but it was a helpful illustration of his curiosity and an effective means to explaining why the Rutherford County native is drawn toward helping students who have the same curiosities.
He has been an ardent supporter of Rutherford County students when it comes to cultivating their interests and aptitudes in the areas of manufacturing and mechatronics.
Davis recently donated a gate logic trainer to the science department at Daniel-McKee Alternative School.
It’s a safe, low-voltage trainer made using eight different gates with options to teach students logic lessons and how logic works.
It teaches the basic thought process behind making anything work.
While automation is the foregone future of manufacturing, Davis pointed out that people still need to make the automated devices and program them to work. For instance, he said, even NASA breaks down to the “simplest components.”
As for tirelessly working to bring together local industry leaders with local educators, Davis said, “A rising tide rises all ships.”
He added, “There’s no real reason why I said this is what I want to do. I’m just trying to help connect people.”
Over the years, Davis has developed a friendship with Keith Hamilton, a retired corporate manager for Bridgestone North Americas Inc.
Davis introduced Hamilton to Fred Roscoe, the dean of career and technical programs at Motlow State Community College, and Bill Spurlock, who at the time was the principal of Oakland High School. Spurlock is now the Director of Schools.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Davis, of bringing everyone to the same table and solving the shortage of qualified workers by educating, training and certifying them as students. “These kids are going to have a career they can build off of for as long as they want to and they’re not bad jobs. They’re great paying, good jobs. People just don’t realize it.”
Mike Bailey, who worked with Davis to build the trainer, said, “Those kids need other people to show them this is fun, it’s cool and help promote the fact that manufacturing is not a dirty word. There are a lot of great jobs out there.”
Davis points to the partnership between Delta Airlines and MTSU.
Delta executives saw an aging workforce and recognized that in another decade they would not be able to fill all their open positions, so they helped support programs like aerospace at MTSU to ensure their future workforce.
That is what Davis, a catalyst in bringing together the key players in creating the nationally recognized mechatronics program at Oakland, is modeling his latest idea after.
“I wish we could get Nissan or Siemens or whoever to understand the same thing,” said Davis, who is the founder of The Davis Groupe.
“My company is small, but every company I talk to needs these people.”