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Winners of the 45th annual Utah Manufacturing Awards share a commitment to employees – and growth

By Todd Bingham November 4, 2014, 12:42 pm MST

For nearly 45 years, the Utah Manufacturers Association has recognized tremendous efforts by Utah manufacturing companies in the state.

Recently, at the Utah Manufacturers Association 109th Annual Banquet, four exceptional manufacturers were recognized for outstanding performance in operational performance and best practices, economic achievement, workplace safety, community and state involvement, public outreach, and fidelity to the principles of free enterprise. These companies have demonstrated areas of expertise and outstanding business practices in their individual industry subsectors and to the general business community.

Recognizing that companies of different sizes face different challenges and obstacles in operational and manufacturing processes, awards were presented in four different categories based on company size: 1-50 employees, 51-200, 201-500, and 500 employees and above.

In the category of 1-50 employees, the award was presented to Setpoint Systems of Ogden, Utah.

In 1992, two young and talented engineers, Joe Cornwell and Joe Vandenberg, set out to create something different. They wanted a company that consistently provided project solutions on schedule and under budget, using transparent business practices that provided employees unprecedented access to the company's financial information and engaged them in the business dialogue. In response, the two Joes created Setpoint.  

Over the past 10 years, Setpoint Systems has experienced rapid yet controlled growth. Setpoint designs and builds custom automation equipment for manufacturing customers, high-end entertainment rides, and, most recently, its own line of ammunition manufacturing equipment. 

Recently, Setpoint began working with Tesla Motors to develop machines that assist in the manufacturing of electric vehicles. Universal Studios contracted SetPoint to design and build the motion bases for their new Despicable Me ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. 

In manufacturing firms with 50-200 employees, the award was presented to Advanced Composites Inc. of Salt Lake City. 

Advanced Composites, Inc. (ACI) builds composite structures for applications as diverse as prosthetics, nuclear submarines, architectural components, water purification, and energy extraction. ACI also manufactures two in-house recreational brands, Cataract Oars and Wound Up bicycle forks. 

ACI has grown steadily and sustainably since its incorporation in 1991, having never experienced a layoff. ACI fosters worker satisfaction and productivity. As a result, individual workers report higher levels of work satisfaction and engagement and ACI has seen dramatic improvements in quality and profitability, and lower turnover. 

Wilson Electronics of St. George, Utah was selected winner in the 201-500 employee category.

Wilson Electronics produces the industry's most advanced line of cellular signal boosters, with a broad portfolio of manufactured products including amplifiers, antennas, and related components. The technology greatly increases cellular phone reception range, reduces dropped calls, and accelerates data transmission in medical and other applications. 

Founded in 1999 by Jim Wilson, the company has experienced positive year-over-year growth, averaging 28 percent annual increase. During these periods of rapid growth, Wilson has been scaling its operations, increasing capacity in production volume by approximately 50 percent by expanding the facilities, implementing more efficient product testing procedures and completely redesigning its assembly lines. 

Sorenson Capital partners acquired Wilson Electronics in 2013 and began a fast-track transformation of the company to position it for even more rapid growth. 

Finally, in the category of 500-plus employees, the award was presented to ATK of Clearfield, Utah.

ATK is a worldwide leader of mission-critical composite structures of the aerospace defense industries. With more than 60 years of experience, ATK uses advanced composite manufacturing technologies to produce lightweight and reliable structures for commercial and military aircraft as well as launch programs. 

The common thread among these businesses is the application of composites to deliver structures that exceed the customer's expectations. From the Airbus A350 to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, ATK is delivering affordable innovation that drives next-generation aircraft structures. 

ATK believes their success is dependent upon aligning and engaging every employee to achieve their vision, mission and strategic priorities. ATK's business model, the Performance Enterprise System, helps the company reach business goals by connecting every level of the organization and driving continuous improvement in their processes. 

Congratulations to the incredible companies that comprise this year's select group of Utah Manufacturing Award winners. 

Todd Bingham is President of the Utah Manufacturer's Assocation. Reach him at todd@umaweb.org.

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