Pen is Mightier
As the son of small business owners, I grew up understanding the importance of small business and also the challenges that come with it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for small business owners, and I recognize that these operations make up the foundation of the Rhode Island economy. I was reminded of this during a tour of Garland Writing Instruments, a pen manufacturing and retail company located in Coventry, where I saw once again how crucial local businesses are, especially to the state of Rhode Island.
The staff at Garland takes so much pride in their work. Most of the team has been working at Garland for decades, and some for more than 30 years! That is a testament to the quality of their products and to the management of the business. As Garland owner and President Rick Becker showed me around the factory floor, he described each step of the pen-making process with care and detail. It was obvious that he and his staff put a lot of thought into each style of pen, and are committed to maintaining high quality standards as a longtime Rhode Island manufacturer. One worker, Paul, even shared a story about a farmer who accidentally drove a tractor over his Garland pen. When he found his pen underneath the tractor tires, he was shocked to find that it still worked.
My tour of Garland Writing Instruments reminded me of the many options available to students as they graduate high school and college. As co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, I think it is extremely important that young people are aware of the training opportunities available to them in their areas of interest. I was very glad to learn that Garland Writing Instruments has internship programs open to students at Coventry High School and the New England Institute of Technology, allowing them hands-on manufacturing experience. Programs like these help keep local businesses alive and thriving in the Rhode Island economy, and they give young people the skills they need to find good-paying jobs. With Garland’s workforce aging, that pipeline of talent will become more important than ever to the company’s future success. Rick recognizes that, and he is willing to invest in the next generation workforce.
I am so grateful to Rick and his entire team for taking time out of their day to show me around and teach me about the work they do. I love my Garland pen, and I am glad that the company continues to be a valuable contributor to the Coventry community and the Rhode Island economy.