U.S. senator visits Shelton firm to discuss manufacturing policy

U.S. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, on right above, takes a tour of the OEM Controls Inc. manufacturing facility in Shelton with Keith T. Simons, president of the company’s control products division. (Photos by Brad Durrell)

Murphy visited the OEM facility on Controls Drive, off Long Hill Cross Road, on Friday morning to attend a roundtable discussion on his plan for a federal manufacturing policy.

The Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce helped organize the event, attended by about 50 representatives of local manufacturing firms.

Regulation, training, high costs

Murphy discussed his plan and took questions from the audience, many of which focused on government regulation, the need for training and education, and the high cost of doing business in Connecticut.

He said having a strong manufacturing base is important to the state’s future, noting the role such good-paying jobs have played in Connecticut’s economic past.

“What we’ve been about, and still are about, are the things we make,” Murphy said.

Most manufacturing jobs today require high-level skills and technological competence, he said, and aren’t located in “old, rotted-out buildings” but in modern corporate parks.

Global changes boosting the U.S.

Murphy said global changes now are making the United States more competitive for manufacturing, with labor costs increasing in developing countries and America producing more of its own energy.

“We can ride this wave of re-industrialization that is happening,” he said of Connecticut and all of the United States.

Company employs more than 200

OEM Controls designs and makes electro-hydraulic controllers and control systems for joystick controllers, multi-grip handles and other devices used for purposes such as construction and utility work.

The company, founded by Brian Simons, employs about 215 people in Shelton in two buildings that occupy about 70,000 square feet.

OEM Controls recently was chosen as the Made in Connecticut Manufacturer of the Week.