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Wednesday, Jul 6, 2022

Factory Workers Learn Basics of 401(k) Finance

Natasha Bonelli has noticed more manufacturers are paying attention to the retirement benefits for employees. Bonelli, a vice president and retirement benefits consultant at Merrill Lynch in Woodland Hills, specializes in setting up 401(k) retirement plans at manufacturers and tech companies in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. “We have a lot of companies in Chatsworth and Valencia that focus on aerospace and so we have quite a few clients in that area,” she said. “Manufacturing tends to be a recurring theme, especially aerospace.” A traditional 401(k) plan allows employees to put pre-tax contributions into stock market investment funds, while the Roth 401(k) plan is for post-tax contributions. In their blue-collar jobs as metal-cutters or welding, manufacturing employees can be less sophisticated when it comes to investing. In enrollment meetings, Bonelli keeps the presentation simple and doesn’t get into the details about investment types. Instead, Bonelli said the discussion will focus on why the employees should be participating in a plan, how it will affect them and then give real life examples. “If you give them statistics it helps,” Bonelli said. “But if you hone in on their company – this is how much your peers have saved, this is how much the market has given you – that really helps them.” Where the magic happens, in Bonelli’s words, is when Merrill Lynch advisors make themselves available for one-on-one consultation either by having client employees come to her office or by her and her team going to the company. The advisors can help in setting up budgets and financial plans, she said. “They have access to all the resources that a wealthy person would. That makes them feel comfortable,” Bonelli added. Sandra Hansen, vice president and chief financial officer of RAH Industries, a Valencia machine shop serving the aerospace industry, said the company has worked with Bonelli and her team for about eight years. RAH wants its employees to be financially stable and offering a 401(k) is important to that. “Because we work very closely with our advisors, we were able to design a plan that motivated our employees to take their retirement planning seriously,” Hansen said in an email to the Business Journal. “We have customized meeting topics to address the diverse financial topics that the employees are interested in.” Bonelli said she and her team members, which include Ed Cogan, a first vice president and senior financial advisor, manage more than 300 retirement plans for California businesses. “Most of them are very local, although I can drive or fly anywhere to see a client,” she added. How the plan is designed and how it meets the goals of the company is key to the participation level. Bonelli said she has taken over retirement plans that were not set up properly because they did not match the company’s goals of, say, attracting and retaining talent or having the owners maximize their contributions. Helicopter Data Display Industrial Electronic Engineers Inc. has signed a contract with the Technology Applications Program of the U.S. Army Special Forces to manufacture a new control display unit. The Van Nuys company, which makes high-quality panel displays, did not release a financial value for the contract. The new display unit will be made for use on helicopters used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. “This 4.3 inch (display unit) provides a central data entry and status display for the aircraft platform,” said Steve Motter, vice president of business development for IEE, in a statement. “Easing the burden of the operator increases efficiency and helps improve overall mission effectiveness.” ISO Achievements Two manufacturing companies in the Conejo Valley region have received certification from the International Organization for Standardization. AeroVironment Inc., which develops, builds and tests its unmanned aircraft in Simi Valley, received ISO 9001:2015 + AS9100D certification for its quality management system. The AS9100D designation is necessary for doing work for the Pentagon, NASA and Federal Aviation Administration. “This achievement represents strong, third-party validation of AeroVironment’s longstanding, unshakeable commitment to providing the highest quality products and services to our customers across all of our business segments,” said Chief Executive Wahid Nawabi in a statement. Interlink Electronics Inc., a sensor technology firm in Westlake Village, was given ISO 13485 certification at its manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China. This designation is for the manufacturing of medical devices. Chief Executive Steven Bronson said the certification was the next step in the growth of the company. “In addition to validating our quality system and practices, it will allow our medical device customers to streamline their processes when selecting a sensor technology development partner,” Bronson said in a statement. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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