Spotlight on New Jersey Manufacturing
By John W. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP)
One of my favorite shows is called ‘Unsung’ on TV-One. The focus is on music from many R&B and Soul artists… their tragedies and triumphs. Funny, that even though I know many of them already, I find myself rooting for a positive outcome. However, I always celebrate their talents and what they overcame in their lives. To me – this show inspires me, as they deserve the accolades timely or not.
During the COVID-19 pandemic we have a similar situation, as we are currently stopping to recognize so many people that tend to (just) pass through our lives. While the loss of so many good people is difficult to fathom on any level…I am heartened to see that we are actually stopping to recognize the 1st Responders, Medical Staffs, Home Health Aides, Store Clerks, and Truck Drivers…to name just a few. Even with a mask on, we now ‘see’ them clearly.
It is about time.
That brings me to another episode on Unsung…a Made in New Jersey episode. Our 11,000 manufacturers and their 380,000+ employees who have quietly gone to work every day and kept making the items that we cannot live without for long. Those that protect us / medicate us / feed us / sustain us. They have done so without fanfare, and they (too) understand fully the risks they are taking to help others.
I do think that our Governor, Phil Murphy has done a solid job overall, because dealing with a pandemic is not an easy lift. It is difficult to foretell how any of us would perform in such a situation, and it is so easy to ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ his decision to keep 100% of manufacturing open in NJ. It put us ahead of many other States and showed that he understands of the value in a healthy Supply Chain. I (also) appreciate how he does ‘shout outs’ to various groups during his briefings…well-deserved. I was especially moved when he cited NJMEP (New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program) for its work with the industry and state on Critical Supply Chain (CSC). It was motivational to our team that had been going 24/7 for about 8-weeks at the time.
While some of you may know me…I’d like to take a moment and unmask a few others here that have stood up. People like Rob Stramara, Lynore DeSantis, Peter Okun, Sally White, Kathleen Baldwin, Stacy Cooke, Chris DePace, Laura Fisher, Kia Sanders, and about 30 others that have decided that they needed to make a positive difference every day during this crisis. Individuals that I am proud to work with at NJMEP. If you add in the (70+) experts that make up our Resource Team – and – the Professional Affiliates (many of both have work for no fee) – then you get to see the real picture.
That being said – I would like to strongly suggest to Governor Murphy and so many others across the state to make sure that you include our Made in NJ Manufacturers in your ‘shout outs’ for what they have done – and – what they will do to drive us out of the inevitable financial downturn that will ensue. We will ignore this critical sector at our own peril, as COVID-19 has taught us several major ‘new’ tenets:
- Being Prepared is not just a pithy motto for Scouts
- We need to invest in and rebuild portions of our Supply Chain in NJ and nationally
- Everyone on Earth needs ‘stuff’ – so – let’s make it here in NJ
- Diversity means all of us…together…we need everyone to succeed
Let me end by doing my own shout-out to a few amazing NJ-Based manufacturing firms. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but if you don’t know these companies…you should:
- SPEX CertiPrep LLC.
- General A&E
- Triangle Manufacturing
- Inrad Optics
- LPS Industries
- Case Medical
- K&S Industries
- Kuehne Chemical
- City Theatrical
- Marotta Controls
- …and so many more.