We first published this column in November 2021 as we launched the TX Manufacturing Report. It's highly relevant today as we launch the AZ Manufacturing Report.
We’ve learned from companies we report on that answers or solutions to production challenges often arise from, well, other manufacturers. Leave it to a manufacturer to explain why:
"A lot of this manufacturing is just like anything else," says Mark Grubis, the founder of Durango Artisan Foods. "The essential, basic principles are the same, whether you're making spaceships or jars of salsa. Many of the skill sets you learn are the same; people are people, products are products, manufacturing is manufacturing, finance is finance. They all operate on the same principles."
Grubis would know. He was an aerospace engineer before launching a food co-manufacturer in the Four Corners region of Colorado.
We hope to facilitate more connections with the TX Mfg. Report, by reporting on manufacturers that are crushing it -- companies finding new ways of solving old problems or positioning for the future. In a 2017 column, I thought leading manufacturers were:
Offering employment opportunities that appeal to a Millennial workforce.
Utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques and materials, with at the same time flashing a profound connection to the craft.
Building products at the forefront of a resurgent Made in America movement.
Renewing an American commitment to reclaim industries offshored or otherwise abandoned in pursuit of low-cost labor or services or materials.
Providing primary jobs in communities in need of new employers and diversified economies, while at the same time investing in the local supply chain to build a foundation for other manufacturers and makers.
Inspired to embrace the mantle of U.S. manufacturing exceptionalism.
At the time, I thought Colorado cycle-maker Moots checked all the boxes. In 2017, very few cycling OEMs were manufacturing frames in the U.S. More are today, but if today's shortage of cycling components or bicycles is an indication, Asian outposts still have a hammerlock on the sector.
I thought as much reading Ben Wiese's feature today in the TX Mfg. Report on Austin's Dor Korngold and his e-bike up-and-comer MOD BIKES. Korngold relies on an Asian ecosystem to manufacture components he designs then assembles in Texas.
We write about MOD BIKES because unless we know why entrepreneurs like Korngold outsource a key component, our supply chains here can't fill a need. If our goal is to make more here, we need to know what to make. Or, Korngold's supply chain will remain offshore.
Mark Grubis might pivot from aerospace to food to electric vehicles. Or a Blanco beer maker or Houston tank maker might fabricate parts that fuel an outdoor industry supply chain. (Read this week's profiles of Real Ale Brewing and Cedarstone Industry.) We need to know.
Our goal every week is to uncover what else we need to know to drive more domestic manufacturing, by reporting on companies like yours. There are NO FEES. This is what we do.
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Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at email@example.com.