Special Focus

After growing up in the family business, Jared Graening is now president of GMT Corp., a contract manufacturer based in Waverly, Iowa. As he and his sister, Vice President Darcy Graening Knights, took inventory of the company’s strengths and weaknesses, they realized GMT would need to diversify beyond the agricultural sector to compete in the modern-day marketplace.

Labor Day is a happy civil holiday – most people enjoy a long weekend, and the holiday is filled with barbecues, parades and activities that allow Americans to enjoy the end of summer. But the reason for the holiday is to celebrate workers and their economic and social contributions to our society. And it is the manufacturing industry and its millions of workers that continue to contribute to the U.S. quality of life in a major way. 

W.M. Barr & Co.’s products are used in homes all across the country, but the company says it has never lost sight of the human element in its operations. “We come to work every day to take care of people, whether that’s by helping our customers take moisture out of the air, make paint stick or take care of their homes,” the company says. “Our products help businesses grow, professionals get the job done and homeowners refurbish. And we’ve been doing it for over 60 years.”

When it comes to outdoor recreation during the blazing summer months, taking a dip in family pool is at the forefront of revelers’ minds. What is often ignored, however, is the upkeep and maintenance required to keep pools clean for use all summer long.

Viking Pools LLC is championing the use of fiberglass pools over similar products, and consumers are beginning to see the light. President Tom Straub says its American-made fiberglass pools are clean, efficient and won’t eat up invaluable hours of summertime fun with maintenance needs.

Some firms outsource their manufacturing, but UVP LLC successfully does it all on its own, President and CEO Leighton Smith says.

“We feel we have the advantage when it comes to quality control, timely delivery of products to our customers and accelerated new product development,” he declares.

SLE Quality Engineering USA knows all about upward and downward pressure. As a supplier for the automotive industry, SLE-USA takes note of its manufacturing customers’ needs while also challenging itself to be a leading innovator in its market. Operating by a philosophy of total quality engineering, SLE USA has developed and produced quality control systems with proven success like micrograph laboratories, crimp force monitors, testing tables, opto-electronic measuring systems, crimping presses and the latest-in-technology coaxial cable process semi and automatic machines.

Out of the many things Philip Conklin believes in – his father’s philosophy in creating a smarter supply chain and that entrepreneurship can happen at any age, for instance – American-made steel nears the top of that list. As a supplier of only 100 percent American-melted and manufactured in the United States steel, R.W. Conklin Steel – started by Philip’s father, the late Rolland “Pete” William Conklin Jr. in 1983 – was founded on and lives by the idea that a strong steel industry is a necessary component to national stability and that American-made steel is the best-quality steel in the world.

Ask Jeff Hanson, business development manager at RedEye On Demand, and he’ll tell you the factory of the future is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn. Hanson helped launch the digital manufacturing company in 2005 after working for parent company, Stratasys, for more than 10 years and explains how RedEye is leading the future of manufacturing.

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