By Eric Peterson | Sep 05, 2021
Eight months into 2021, CompanyWeek has profiled more than 150 manufacturers for the year. For Labor Day, we've compiled a few of the most notable quotes from manufacturing leaders who we've interviewed since January.
Checkerspot CEO Charles Dimmler: "Think about ExxonMobil and Chevron and BP and Shell and Dow and Dupont and BASF -- these are companies that have been around for decades, some more than 100 years. That's a long time to optimize your place in the market and to erect barriers to entry and to protect your market position. The concept of a startup being able to go from zero to full gas, that's fiction. It's not the same as information technology."
Archamelia founder Charlie Hodges: "I purchased a Barbie Dreamhouse, separated it by materials, and reverse engineered it," says Hodges. "It turns out that the Barbie Dreamhouse, by my calculations, requires seven steam-cracked gases, five plastics, eight metals, four minerals, two elements, and three types of paper. All of that material goes into a 27-pound toy that's literally designed to end up in a landfill. I think we can do better."
Tonnellerie Ô GM Josh Trowbridge: "Premium winemakers seldom if ever buy their grapes sight unseen," says Trowbridge. "They get to know the growers. They walk the vineyards and monitor the fruit as it develops. But none of that happens with barrels -- usually, winemakers just buy them from the cooperage, and that's it. So we decided to change that."
American Garment President David LaDuke: "It used to be people wanted to buy lots of clothes, cheap clothes, then toss them after they'd worn them a few times. Not so much now. They want good products and are willing to pay a higher price. They aren't so inclined to go into a store and buy five or 10 tops. Even my 14-year-old daughter appreciates fewer and better clothes. There's also the environmental aspect -- increasingly, people seem conscious about the impacts of consumerism."
S2A Modular President John Rowland: "Once your home actually gets on the production floor and started, from start to finish, it's a 10-day process. Every two hours, the buzzer goes off and the line moves. That means every two hours we have a finished product coming off the line, ready for delivery, so it's very efficient."
Bishop-Wisecarver President Pamela Kan: "This is a game of chicken between companies with large, deep supply chains and officials in California. They're saying, 'Look, we could do this' -- and they're moving some of the non-critical things out of the state -- but the things that are built around that deep infrastructure here are not moving."
Ultradent VP of Manufacturing Chuck Anger: "The goal of automation isn't to make waste faster, it's to eliminate waste. Sometimes automation can be premature," says Anger. "Automation's not one of things where y
ou can say, 'Tomorrow we're going to be automated.' It takes time. It takes money. You've got to really understand the processes."
VORSHEER President Steve McCloud: "We try to keep as much manufacturing in-house as we can for one primary reason: We can control quality."
3rd Gen Machine GM Jon Robinson: "There's a lot of machine shops around the country that are hungry for work -- small mom-and-pop shops that thrive off of businesses like us pushing them good purchase orders," says Robinson. "We bring in more work externally and push it out our door than we can produce internally in a given year."
Dustless Technologies CEO Spencer Loveless: "There's a lot of opportunity [for additive manufacturing], and a lot of people we can help. As we've started to bypass our Chinese suppliers, we've been able to help other companies do the same thing. It's been awesome just to see their reaction and their love of manufacturing when they realize you can do this in days or weeks rather than months or years."
The Chocolate Conspiracy founder AJ Wentworth: "It's really hard to make really good chocolate with honey. I've chosen the hardest way to make chocolate -- and I've just stuck with it."
Blaze Bicycles founder Pierre Chastain: "For the bike scene and Blaze, it's going to become more about what we can produce locally. So I'm bringing in people, not to weld -- that is a really specific thing -- but to help with manufacturing, with cutting tubes, and generally running it."
Timber Age Systems co-founder Andy Hawk: "The growth vision for Timber Age is replicating and not to scale hugely in a single location," says Hawk. "The key to success from the supply chain and a cost of goods standpoint is to keep the working circle pretty small -- sub-100 miles. What we see as the solution is multiple small-scale micro-manufacturing facilities that are sprinkled around through rural communities."
Geyser Systems founder Jonathan Ballesteros: After moving the company from Texas, Ballesteros says that Colorado has aligned more with Geyser Systems' values and interests. "First and foremost, Colorado is a little bit more outdoor gear business-friendly," he explains. "Investors here have been much more receptive. And I'm also really happy and impressed with the level to which key leaders in Colorado are willing to really just at the very least listen, but also work with a company like mine."
NuLine Manufacturing President Greg Herivel: Contract manufacturing helps smooth the ups and downs in the custom automation business. "It's a total ping-pong ball," says Herivel. "It jumps all over the place. . . . I've been involved in other automation companies in Colorado over the years that have tanked for the exact same reason."
Xylem Design CEO Greg Glebe: "Lean starts with a philosophy that's really human-centric, and it's not bullshit. Then you're trying to improve lives and the lives of those who you touch. If what we're doing sucks, we can't affect our customers positively, because some of that energy sticks to how you interact with them."
Fenceline Cider co-founder Sam Perry: When life gives you apples, make cider. "We've set up relationships and some contracts with some of these old farmers who used to grow for the Mountain Sun Juice Company," says Perry. "We have the bins and the picking team, and we go around from orchard to orchard basically. We roll up and introduce ourselves to people, and say, 'Hey, it looks like you have a lot of apples. Got a use for them or not?' We'll set a price for them per ton depending on if we have to pick them or not. It's kind of cool. We're supporting the old orchards where people have bothered to keep the trees watered and alive."
MMA Design President and CEO Mitch Wiens: The company's products dovetail into the trend of continued miniaturization of satellites. "Being able to put something that deploys really big but packaging it really small is enabling," Wiens explains. "Instead of launching a much larger spacecraft that we would have done in the past, we can now put a similar capability on a much smaller vehicle, which brings down cost and allows you to fit more spacecraft on a launch vehicle."
Neota Product Solutions CEO Jason Osborne: "Metal injection molding has a place in just about every industrial market out there, from consumer goods to automotive to medical to aerospace, you name it," says Osborne. But it also "has a stigma in the industry," he adds. "It's a black art type of thing. . . . We are really trying to change that stigma."
Brunton Global CEO Per Wååg: The employees' experience comes into play calibrating compasses for specific declination and inclination in a big way. "It's a precision instrument with a needle that needs to be aligned with magnetic north. That's why the workstations are aligned that way," says Wååg. "That is a tricky piece. That is a craft that is hand-done. If you do it wrong, you're not only going to tilt the needle, you're going to bend the needle and then it's not pointing to north anymore."
Big Metal Additive President Slade Gardner: "Additive manufacturing has been featured as a supply-chain solution," says Gardner. "When customers cannot get a forging or they cannot get a casting or they cannot get a welded assembly because the general workforce at large is unavailable, we provide a very interesting solution. We can often turn these things around much more quickly, at a better price, and with more design flexibility than the legacy manufacturing operation might."
Table Mountain Farm owner Amanda Adare: Table Mountain Farm's slogan -- "For the love of goats" -- reflects Adare's passion for the horned ruminants. "What's not to love about goats?" she muses. "They're fantastic for the environment. They're the sweetest animals, they really are. They're like glorified dogs."
Precision Additive CEO Jason Korbelik: "We can scan each layer after we print for micron deviation on the surface," says Korbelik. "Subsequent layers that the printer prints will adjust for that micron deviation, so you're getting real-time quality control as you build the part."
Pastificio Boulder co-founder Claudia Bouvier: Bouvier sees her company's mission as furthering community relationships and raising consciousness about the food she sells: "To work with -- directly -- the farmers growing our foods sustainably, and using those very special seeds [as a way to] educate people, [thus nurturing] a market for a more biodiverse food system."
Mydecine CEO Josh Bartch: "The goal is to spread awareness about our cause and psychedelics as a whole and psychedelics and psychotherapy as a whole, and spread the awareness that this is a new wave, and it's not the bogeyman and it's a very effective treatment that the mainstream should really adopt."
Dragonfly Wellness Chief Strategy Officer Narith Panh: Panh says the big challenge is erasing the stigma that patients in Utah experience as a result using cannabis medicinally -- often in place of opiates -- for pain management. "How do we get people to talk about something that they don't want to talk about?" he asks. "That's hard to do when people are afraid to talk to their neighbors, to talk to their family, to talk to their bishops about their cannabis use."
Se7enLeaf co-founder Michael Moussalli: Cannabis manufacturing is facing an uphill battle in California, as opposed to, say, Oklahoma, says Moussalli. "You've got 700 legal retail outlets for the whole state of California. You've probably got 3,000 to 4,000 illegal retail outlets for the state of California, with a lack of enforcement and pricing that's 40 percent less than what we're selling at in the legal shops. On top of that, you have 68 percent of the cities in the state still banning retail cannabis."
Eric Peterson is editor of CompanyWeek. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.