Manufacturers are well versed in dealing with forces and trends far beyond their control or ability to influence, but in 2016, that talent is being tested to a degree not seen in years. Between weak economies — both at home and in major export markets — and issues like health care costs and workforce availability, there is no shortage of challenges.
After years of hype about virtual reality, it stands ready to move from The Matrix and Avatar into real life, with applications ranging from gaming to e-sales, from collaborative product design to remote surgery. What’s more, many companies in the Seattle region will reap the benefits.
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
At least one brand of fitness equipment for the commercial and home markets carries a “made in Washington” label. Precor’s keeping manufacturing local has helped grow employment from 544 to 573, but neither happened without a commitment to lean principles and efficient production.
The middle of a recession wouldn’t at first glance seem to be a good time to start a new pleasure-boat company. But Fluid Motion, parent of Ranger Tugs, founded in 1958 and still owned and operated by the Livingston family, decided to launch Cutwater Boats, a line of fuel-efficient, trailerable, feature-packed vessels — think bow and stern thrusters — in 2011.
Research doesn’t work without the right tools, and in the case of biomedical research, critical tools are the preservation media used to store stem cells, bone marrow, cellular therapies and tissue samples.
The next generation of manufacturing leadership can be found in companies like electronics contract manufacturer Out of the Box and its owners, Chad and Allison Budvarson.
Western Integrated Technologies started in 1969 as Hydraulics Components Company, a small distributor of hydraulic-system components. Bill Hill and a partner bought it in 1986.
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