KC-based Project MFG creates competition show highlighting skilled trades

Clash of Trades.jpg
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 07:00:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From the outside, an old brick warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri, looks unassuming. But inside, studio lights are on and cameras are focused on a panel of judges who are committed to raising awareness about the skilled trades.

KC-based Project MFG, with the help of funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, has created a competition-style television show called “Clash of Trades."

Harvest Productions in Kansas City let 41 Action News into the studio for an exclusive look behind the scenes at producing the show.

“I am astounded by our young people in the competitions,” explained Ray Dick of Project MFG. “They have reignited the passion in me in giving back to young people, giving them career paths that may not be aware of, giving them opportunities to be on a show like this.”

The show’s goal is to spotlight skilled trades and help the U.S. fill a skills gap.

Some predictions say by 2028, there will be 2.4 million job openings with no one trained to fill them.

Those jobs will be in trades like welding, plumbing, electric, measurement sciences, computer numerically controlled machining and more.

The Department of Defense is involved because finding workers who can maintain the supply chain is a matter of national security.

“As the government desires to build ships, planes, radios, electronics, if we can’t make it in America, if it’s not made in American control with our industrial base, it’s a national security problem,” Dick pointed out.

In Clash of Trades, teams from four different schools across the country compete against one another by creating the same item using the trades they’ve learned. Each team gets a surprise it must incorporate into the project.

Because of COVID-19 distancing guidelines, each team competes from their own school with a camera crew filming along the way. A panel of judges in Kansas City watches their progress and determines the winner.

Country music artist Stephanie Quayle is the show’s host. She admitted she took all the skills her family learned for granted while growing up on a farm in Montana. She’s happy to be a part of a project which encourages people to explore trades.

“America has so much right at its fingertips. It’s exciting. I just can’t wait to see what happens, three years, five years from now as it just continues to take off, it’s incredible,” she said optimistically. “I love humans and I believe that they can [fill the skills gap]. So I’m excited because possibility creates possibility.”

The Clash of Trades premieres on YouTube on April 20, 2021.

Here’s our Rebound Rundown to help you get involved:

  • Trades are becoming more high-tech, incorporating computers and software.
  • Be open-minded in choosing a trade to pursue.
  • Consider an apprenticeship with a union or company like Anthony Plumbing Heating and Cooling which offers an “earn while you learn” program.
  • Community colleges offer skilled trade programs. Metropolitan Community College is expanding its programs and North Central Kansas Technical College has a renowned welding program.

The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.

Whether you're Getting Back to Work after a layoff, need help Making Ends Meet during these trying times or need tips on Managing the Pressure we're all feeling, The Rebound has resources to find help. We'll also make sure local leaders are Doing What's Right to get Kansas City back track after a three-month shutdown.

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