Manufacturing a gem of Utah’s economy, and here’s the best of 2016

By Bart Taylor | Dec 20, 2016

Utah’s powerful economy is no longer a national secret. Workforce advantages and an embarrassment of R&D riches driven by world-class universities is translating into, among other things, high-tech success. See the Silicon Slopes.

But Utah’s manufacturing ecosystem is emerging into a national model for growth and innovation. Magnificent legacy operators provide a foundation for modern machiners who’ve followed, all of whom may contribute to a sector poised to put the state on the national map -- outdoor industry manufacturers.

It’s a cross-industry mix that’s also a blueprint for U.S. manufacturing. In addition, here's the companies you favored, the most-read list; and Alicia Cunningham’s personal favorites.

Here’s my best of Utah manufacturing list from 2016:

Hammerton -- Bill Shott, co-owner and president of Hammerton, said it all, "The majority of the lighting industry manufactures offshore in Asia. And of the few domestic players that exist, most of them source their glass offshore." Modernizing the industry at the same time it sets an example for what can be made in the U.S. ‘Nuff said.

Robinson Fans -- Cutters, benders, welders, craftspeople. I can’t get enough. That the Robinson family has done it for over 125 years in the region is testament to the enduring power of manufacturing and its profound impact on our socio-economic standing.

JD Machine -- Speaking of an embarrassment of riches, Utah’s boasts a machining ecosystem worthy of national repute. Progress Manufacturing and Advanced Manufacturing Technology were also standouts.

Artisan Hardware -- As with my Colorado list, I favor craftspeople in the building environment, and it’s impossible to not shine a light on the makers in Chase Norton’s operation. Artisans, indeed.

Kodiak Cakes -- It’s impossible to leave Joel Clark’s company off my list. I use their product, they’re a leader that’s willing to stand out in front to lead a transformation of Utah’s natural and organic product sector, and their legion of followers pushed the feature to the lofty status of most-read of any profile in CompanyWeek in 2016. Utah, Colorado, wherever.