The event has grown tremendously each year, and the trend continued in 2018. We’re speaking of ‘Made in New Jersey’ Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY), which this year officially occurred on October 5, 2018…but manufacturers can choose any day of the year to celebrate their important contribution to their community, the economy and American jobs.
The daylong celebration featured guest speakers who discussed an array of triumphs and challenges for the manufacturing climate in both the state and nation. Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Robert Asaro-Angelo, Commissioner of the Department of Labor & Workforce Development joined manufacturers and New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) on National Manufacturing Day for a special New Jersey celebration to raise the profile of New Jersey manufacturing.
Manufacturing Day has always been an important way for NJMEP to spread the word about the benefits that manuacturing provides to our Garden State. This year we actively promoted Manufacturing Day throughout the year utilizing a variety of methods. We implemented various marketing campaigns to 1) reach out to manufacturers in 21 New Jersey counties; 2) our partners and other organizations; 3) high school, vocational, technical and colleges; 4) city, county and state officials; and 5) current and prospective clients. Our outreach efforts included phone calls, emails, and in person meetings, as well as a multitude of social media posts. We also created our NJMEP “Manufacturing Day website pages to keep everyone informed about Manufacturing Day and provide the most up-to-date listing of New Jersey companies sponsoring the event.
We would also like to extend a special thank you to all of the manufacturers, legislators, schools, sponsors, and all of the individuals who helped to make Manufacturing Day such a huge success.
Highlights from Manufacturing Day
Five companies and one individual, out of 19 finalists, were recognized for their contributions to the state’s $44.5 billion manufacturing industry at NJMEP’s Manufacturing Day celebration held at The Marigold in Somerset, NJ. The annual event, which coincides with National Manufacturing Day and Manufacturing Week, was organized in conjunction with partners ROI-NJ and NJBIA and the accounting firm of CohnReznick as the awards sponsor.
The winners included:
- Rafael Mendez of Tropical Cheese Industries: The Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence
- Parts Life Inc.: Innovator of the Year Award
- Designs by Kait & Mike: Manufacturer of the Year (Best Start-up/Young Manufacturing Company)
- Wexco Industries: Manufacturer of the Year (Small Manufacturer)
- Edmund Optics: Manufacturer of the Year (Medium Manufacturer)
- Naturex Group: Manufacturer of the Year (Large Manufacturer)
Six people were named to the Made in New Jersey Honor Roll for Manufacturing & Stem at the event, receiving plaques for their support of manufacturing.
- Robert Gordon, Commissioner of the Board of Public Utilities
- Gale Tenen Spak, Associate Vice President for Continuing and Distance Education
- Andrew Zwicker, New jersey General Assembly, NJ Manufacturing Caucus, Science, Technology & Innovation Commission Chairman
- Anthony Bucco Jr., NJ General Assembly, NJ Manufacturing Caucus
- Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director, NJ Business Action Center, Former Chief Government Affairs Officer, NJBIA
- Steven Oroho, NJ State Senate, NJ Manufacturing Caucus Vice-Chairman.
Breakout sessions included topics such as: Tariffs – How To Apply For Exclusions; Emerging Topics In Food Safety; Red Tape Roundtable; Tips for Recruiting, Retaining And Linking Into Underutilized Talent Pools; Driving Industry Growth through Innovative Technology, Education and Government Support; 2018 Tax Reform – How To Make The Changes Work In Your Favor; 2018 HR & Employment Law Topics – How To Minimize The Impact On Your Business; You Pick the Technology Topic – We’ll Bring The Experts; and Women in Manufacturing Roundtable Discussion.
Profiles of Award Winners
The Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence: Rafael Mendez of Tropical Cheese Industries
Rafael Mendez of Tropical Cheese Industries, Perth Amboy. At the age of 17, with only $50 and a strong will to succeed, he leaves Cuba and set out for the United States. He eventually settled in Perth Amboy, NJ in the 1970s, and began working as a milk delivery man. A few years later, Mendez had established a small milk delivery route and with a single used truck, he serviced the cities’ Hispanic community. Little did he know that this city and this community would serve as the foundation of Tropical Cheese, and his very own American Dream. In 1983, Tropical Cheese Industries was established at its current headquarters in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Over the years, Tropical has grown and expanded into new cities and territories throughout the U.S., Caribbean, Central and South America, and Europe. Today, Tropical is proud to be one of the leading producers and distributors of Latino targeted dairy products in the United States.
Innovator of the Year Award: Parts Life Inc.
Founded in 2007, Parts Life Inc. provides proven, custom obsolescence and supply chain solutions that extend the life of expensive, mission-critical assets while delivering value to U.S. taxpayers. Clients include numerous branches of service, such as the U.S. Army, Dept. of the Navy, and Dept. of the Air Force, as well as the Defense Logistics Agency, prime military contractors, and key players in the automotive, aerospace, and construction equipment industries.
More than a supplier, Parts Life Inc. sees itself as a strategic partner, meeting and exceeding client requirements through on-time delivery, a zero defects standard, continuous improvement, and life cycle support. While maintaining a core focus on agility, efficiency, and affordability, Parts Life Inc. enables DOD program managers to proactively mitigate the obsolescence risk of military systems.
Manufacturer of the Year (Best Start-up/Young Manufacturing Company): Designs by Kait & Mike
Both growing up in the plants industry, Kate and Mike knew it was a no brainer to start their own company bringing trendy and innovative solutions to the plant industry out of Flemington, New Jersey. Kate and Mike strive to offer unique plant products that are adorable, eco-friendly, and easy to care for all at the same time. Their crates are made using recycled old pallets, the plants they put inside these crates require very little care, and they look “adorable” on any indoor surface.
Manufacturer of the Year (Small Manufacturer): Wexco Industries
Founded in 1991, WEXCO Industries, Inc. is among the Nation’s leading global suppliers of windshield wiper blades and wiper system components. They manufacture OEM wiper systems within the heavy duty market and service both the automotive and heavy duty aftermarkets. WEXCO, a Certified WBNEC company, provides quality products, services, and solutions and strives to constantly find ways to achieve ultimate value for our customers. WEXCO’s diverse array of engineered systems makes them a top choice for any OEM and OES needs. They also hold many integral roles in the marketplace- not just as a global supplier; but as a Tier 1 and Tier 2 OEM windshield wiper systems supplier to Class 6, 7, 8 truck, school bus, RV, and agricultural/construction vehicles. Serving both the automotive and heavy duty markets, WEXCO consistently creates successful aftermarket windshield wiper programs for its distributors, installers, and retailers to fit various go-to market strategies.
Manufacturer of the Year (Medium Manufacturer): Edmund Optics
Edmund Optics Inc. (EO) has been a leading supplier of optics and optical components to industry since 1942, designing and manufacturing a wide array of multi-element lenses, lens coatings, imaging systems, and Opto-Mechanical equipment. Led by a staff of skilled optical engineers and scientists, EO is application focused and pursues new ways to implement optical technology, enabling advancements in semiconductor manufacturing, industrial metrology, and medical instrumentation.
Originally a supplier of optics and other science items for hobbyist and educational use, EO refocused on industrial optics during the mid-1980s when market analysis showed that demand for its educational items had peaked. Since that time the company has become well known as a catalog based distributor of industrial optics and related products, as well as a source for much more – including application integration, custom lens and coating design, and OEM services.
Manufacturer of the Year (Large Manufacturer): Naturex Group
Founded in 1992, Naturex is the global leader in specialty plant-based natural ingredients. Through its dedicated business units, the Group addresses the specific needs of 3 strategic markets: Food & Beverage, Nutrition & Health, and Personal Care. The company offers its customers a full array of high quality ingredients, responsibly sourced from nature for food, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetic applications. Naturex’s head office is in Avignon, France. The company employs more than 1,700 people and benefits from 8 sourcing offices around the world and high-performance manufacturing operations across 15 sites in Europe, Morocco, the United States, Brazil, Australia, India and Chile. It also has a global commercial presence through a dedicated network of 25 sales offices.