Editor's Choice: Top 5 California Manufacturer Profiles for 2020

By Eric Peterson | Dec 14, 2020

As the year 2020 mercifully comes to an end, CompanyWeek dares to take a look back on the 12 months that were. Here are five profiles we published during the year that left indelible impressions.

Monster City Studios

Photo by Neil Chowdhury

When you need something big, eye-catching, and maybe a little weird, look no further than Monster City in Fresno. A focus on big theme parks brought about a boom starting in 2017 as the company mushroomed from 10 to 25 employees. "In the past couple of years, it's really started to curve up," says founder James Powell.

CalPlant I

Photo courtesy CalPlant I

One industry's trash is another's treasure. In the case of CalPlant I, it's rice waste that's the key ingredient in medium-density fiberboard, or MDF. The numbers are big: As of February, the $315 million plant was capable of manufacturing 140 million square feet of MDF annually, or about 30 percent of California’s total demand.


Photo courtesy 3DEO

Pioneering 3D metal printing into production, 3DEO is on fire. "There's a big restructuring with the supply chain right now, and it plays into our favor," says President Matt Sand, one of 3DEO's three co-founders. "We're seeing from our existing customers more orders and a lot of interest in manufacturing in the U.S."

Western Mountaineering

Photo courtesy Western Mountaineering

Gary Schaezlein, who co-founded the San Jose-based backpacking gear manufacturer a half-century ago, says attention to detail is a differentiator. "That's one thing that we do as a smaller company: We'll look at things a little bit closer than maybe bigger companies will," he explains in the profile by CompanyWeek writer Chris Meehan.

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery

Photo courtesy Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery

In this profile by CompanyWeek contributor Glen Martin Managing Partner Stu Smith offers a path forward as the climate changes and wildfires threaten California's world-class wine industry. "This is about raw survival," he says. "Our forests have been mismanaged for so long that they're tinderboxes. We need to streamline regulations so we can reduce the fuels and return our forests to a healthier -- and safer -- state."

Eric Peterson is editor of CompanyWeek. Reach him at epeterson@companyweek.com.