By CompanyWeek Editors | Dec 16, 2022
In 2022 our writers fanned out across California to showcase manufacturers of all sizes who call this state home. Here’s our list of favorites from the year – and yours, in the Readers Choice Best of 2022.
Greg Montgomery bought his first CNC mill in 1984 when a friend needed a few custom metal parts manufactured for a local business. In the 38 years since, his MIL-SPEC job shop has grown to fill an 8,700-square-foot building that is stocked with numerous automated and manual mills and lathes.
A man with a "knack for making things" who has been itching to "get out there in the field and do some sales," many of Montgomery's customers have relied on his shop's services for decades. "They stay with us for a long time," he says in the interview. "We provide delivery and price with quality."
It's a pleasantly old-school formula for success from a memorable industry veteran who was simply a downright joy to interview and photograph.
Read the CNC Machining Services manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/cnc-machining-services
For many years, workforce issues have been a frequent challenge for the manufacturers CompanyWeek's reporters have interviewed. Kim Frankel's Moorpark machine shop is no different -- but it's a challenge she's rising to meet.
"It's always been about creating jobs and allowing people to support their families, our community, and make decent wages," Frankel says in the interview. "[But] talent is definitely a challenge. I am trying to get on top of a couple of groups of training organizations that are working in that aspect of things. I'd love to be able to target more veterans and more college students. I feel that because of COVID, everybody has kind of lost momentum in the college area, so we're looking into that."
Read the ABACORP CNC Machined Parts manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/abacorp-cnc-machined-parts
Another company looking to tap into previously untapped or under-tapped candidate pools is PRIDE Industries. In our interview with Tony Lopez, the organization's vice president of manufacturing and logistics services, we learn that 75 percent of working age adults in the U.S. with some form of disability do not have jobs. It's a sizable source of potential workers, and one the social enterprise is working on developing through training and employment within manufacturing, facilities management services, and logistics.
PRIDE Industries' contract manufacturing teams alone generate nearly $25 million in revenue a year operating surface-mount technology lines, doing electromechanical assembly, and producing printed circuit boards, cables, cable harnesses, and even medical devices. "We are currently courting two of the largest federal contractors on the face of the globe," Lopez says in the interview.
With a "big, hairy, audacious goal to serve 100,000 individuals with disabilities through some type of employment option," PRIDE Industries is a manufacturer to watch as they progress towards this achievement.
Read the PRIDE Industries manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/pride-industries
While China is by far the largest garlic producer globally, wholesalers, food service companies, restaurants, and home cooks know that the best-tasting garlic is grown in California -- and much of it by Christopher Ranch.
A third-generation garlic farmer, Executive Vice President Ken Christopher's great grandparents immigrated to California from Denmark in the 1880s to grow prunes. His grandfather pivoted the family business into garlic in 1956, beginning with 10 acres of fields that have steadily expanded to more than 6,000 acres of "heirloom garlic" in the present day.
"Our seed has been in our possession for over 50 years," Christopher explains in the interview. "And because garlic is an asexual plant, the flavor profile that my grandfather first came up with back in the 1950s in the exact same flavor profile we have today."
Read the Christopher Ranch manufacturing story, and you'll never look at a jar of crushed garlic the same way again: https://companyweek.com/article/christopher-ranch
Though several of America's oldest chocolate makers -- namely Ghirardelli and Guittard -- call California home, it was Dustin Taylor's artisan manufacturer of craft chocolate that really stood out to us in 2022. Founded in 2010, the company relies on a time-intensive method that yields bars with complex flavor notes and an exquisitely smooth texture.
This year, Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate will process over 35 metric tons of cacao in its 7,000-square-foot facility. But an expansion is on the horizon: the company is moving to a new 15,000-square-foot building in early 2023.
"The whole town is just so excited for this move," Taylor says in the interview. "This move has been on the horizon for four years now." He foresees it enabling the company to invest more capital into equipment that will add efficiency to its manufacturing process -- and ultimately increase the amount of delicious chocolate Taylor and his business partner can produce.
That's music to our taste buds, for sure.
Read the Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/dick-taylor-craft-chocolate
When we first interviewed Marta Miller back in 2019, investments in cutting-edge technology were driving demand for her Los Angeles-based one-stop apparel shop's services. Three years later, the purchase of a Texas-based sewn product development company has enabled Miller to significantly expand her reach while taking advantage of renewed interest among U.S. brands for onshore contract manufacturing.
"I don't think they're going to move everything home from overseas," Millers says in the interview, "but they are starting to understand that in order to be successful, at least part of their business should be something they have a little more access to and control over."
Read the Lefty Production Co. manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/lefty-production-co
It's not a secret that housing costs continue to increase in California -- as do wildfire risks. But Karim Bishay’s company -- Zomes -- is attempting to mitigate both with affordable and fire-resistant accessory dwelling units crafted from molded magnesium phosphate cement and precisely machined wooden frames.
"It doesn't burn," Bishay says of the innovative cement. "You can hold a flame thrower to it, and it doesn't catch fire. It also sequesters more carbon out of the atmosphere over its lifecycle than it costs in its production, so it's incredibly environmentally friendly."
Affordable, safe, and good for the environment? Sign us up.
Read the Zomes manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/zomes
Another innovative manufacturer tackling California's growing housing crisis is Matthew Gile. His company is using large-scale 3D construction printers from COBOD to construct affordable homes that also qualify for traditional mortgage financing -- meaning you don't need a large stash of cash to buy one.
"We print all walls on site," Gile says in the interview. "There are several advantages to of doing it this way, including the fact that traditional site-built homes have a different -- and preferable -- classification for lending. In fact, we just received word that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have approved our onsite homes for loans. That's a tremendous boost for us."
But that's not the only reason Emergent 3D's structures are affordable. Gile explains that it only takes a three-person crew to print one, yielding huge savings in labor. "Right now, we estimate total project cost savings will run at about 15 percent compared to standard home construction. As Emergent 3D's efficiencies improve, the cost ratio will improve as well -- dramatically."
Read the Emergent 3D manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/emergent-3d
In a need-it-now economy, speed is a common demand. But how do you optimize output without sacrificing quality -- especially as an additive manufacturer? Avi Reichental's Nexa3D is engineering a solution for exactly that problem.
"We've consistently demonstrated that our machines are 20 times more productive than other machines in the marketplace," says Reichental of the cutting-edge 3D printers. "It's comparable to the evolution of internet speeds. We've taken 3D printing from dial-up to broadband."
But that's not all. Reichental and team have also developed a cadre of complementary processes that are already paving the way for a profound reconfiguration of the additive manufacturing sector -- a welcome development in an economy dealing with snarled supply chains and rising costs.
Read the Nexa3D manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/nexa3d
When we interviewed Ryan Olliges, he explained that the aerospace industry has a sizeable carbon-fiber scrap problem, generating 20 million pounds of it annually. "There's a decent amount of stuff that's being thrown away," he says. "Our goal is to be able to collect and recycle all of the carbon-fiber scrap that's generated in the U.S."
He launched Elevated Materials in 2015, and the company now collects trash bags of leftover carbon fiber from aerospace manufacturers around the nation, converting the waste product into recycled sheets that can be sold to other manufacturers or used as raw materials for its own contract manufacturing division. The company's annual volume of recycled scrap is now nearing 100,000 pounds, and Olliges is considering opening additional locations in other aerospace hubs.
Read the Elevated Materials manufacturing story here: https://companyweek.com/article/elevated-materials
Angela Rose is Executive Editor of CompanyWeek. If you think your manufacturing company would make a great feature, let her know at firstname.lastname@example.org.