Manufacturing has left the U.S.A. and gone overseas, right? And in Utah, there wasn’t much manufacturing anyway, am I right? But if it is around, it doesn’t have much of an impact, does it?
These common beliefs and questions regarding manufacturing abound. Contradicting these perceptions are the 119,000 Utahns who draw their paychecks from over 3,700 manufacturing companies around the state. To the thousands of suppliers and service providers who count the manufacturers as some of their largest clients, and to the cities, counties and the state of Utah who count manufacturing among their strongest assets, the message is strong: “In Utah, manufacturing matters.”
Elsewhere in this special Focus Edition of The Enterprise featuring manufacturing, you have seen data listing the top five counties for manufacturing. With this list, top manufacturers in those counties were named. You may have also viewed a graph showing that while manufacturing employment in Utah took a hit from the recent recession, it is on the rebound. The Utah Department of Workforce Services projects employment growth in manufacturing will grow from 118,657 at present to over 123,000 by 2015, and the long-term projection for the year 2022 shows growth to continue, adding an additional 10,300 jobs.
While the majority of manufacturers and manufacturing jobs are located along the Wasatch Front, the manufacturing industry has a strong impact in other counties outside the Front. Let’s take a look at the eight Economic Service Areas defined by the state of Utah:
1. Bear River Economic Service Area comprising Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties.
The top five sectors in order are: manufacturing, education, healthcare, retail and government. The average annual manufacturing salary of $42,667 in this region is $11,662 higher than the average regional salary.
Manufacturers in this region include companies such as Autoliv, ATK, Vulcraft, Malt-O-Meal, Nucor, Proctor & Gamble, Icon, Schreiber Foods, Thermo-Fisher, Gossner, Pepperidge Farms, Innovar and Campbell Scientific — all among the top 25 employers in the region.
2. Wasatch Front North Economic Service Area comprising Davis, Morgan and Weber counties.
Manufacturing is the fourth largest industry in this region behind government, retail and healthcare/social services, comprising 11.3 percent of the workforce. The annual manufacturing wage is $13,027 higher than the regional average wage.
Among the top 25 employers in this region are manufacturers: ATK, Lifetime Products, Utility Trailer, Lofthouse Bakery, Browning, Autoliv, Fresenius, Kimberly-Clark and Petersen Inc.
3. Wasatch Front South Economic Service Area comprising Salt Lake and Tooele counties.
The four industries that pay the most wages in this region are: 1. Manufacturing ($2.93 billion); 2. professional, scientific and technical ($2.84 billion); 3. finance and insurance ($2.45 billion); and, 4. healthcare and social services ($2.37 billion).
Of all the people employed in Salt Lake and Tooele, one out of 10 works for a manufacturing company. Surprising, isn’t it? Just under half of the state’s 3,700 manufacturing firms are located in Salt Lake County, so many of the big names are in the news — L3 Communications, Merit Medical, O.C. Tanner, BD Medical and Kennecott (yes, they mine and process — manufacture). But there are literally thousands more that could be mentioned — many machining shops and food manufacturers as well as other medical device manufacturers. Have you heard of Edwards Life Sciences, Haemonetics, Otto Bock or Kairos Autonomi? How about Varian, Advanced Composites, Osborn Specialty Sewing or Hallmark? Companies from Tooele include Cargill, Morton International, Detroit Diesel and ATI Titanium.
4. Mountainland Economic Service Area includes Utah, Summit, Wasatch and Juab counties.
Again in this region, manufacturing beats out healthcare, professional, scientific and technical and even information sectors with an annual payroll just over $800 million. In this region known for software developers and BYU spin-offs are manufacturers IM Flash, Nestle, U.S. Synthetic, Action Target, Barnes Bullets, Blendtec, and Liberty Safe. Skullcandy and Triumph Gear are in ski country.
5. The Uintah Basin Economic Service Area comprising Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties.
As one might suspect, oil and gas, recreation and accommodation industries dominate this region. Most manufacturing activity is in the form of machine shops supporting oil and gas, and cabinetry work for home and business. A successful liquid herbal supplement company, Cedar Bear, is located in Roosevelt.
6. Castle Country and Southeast Economic Service Area comprising Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties.
Like the Uintah Basin, this region hassomewhat remote and historically focused industries — coal and tourism. There is no significant manufacturing in this area. Skilled labor, transportation corridors and material suppliers may be contributing factors.
7. Central Economic Service Area consisting of Millard, Sanpete, Sevier, Piute and Wayne counties.
Driving along scenic Highway 89, one would not guess this region to be a spot for manufacturing. And it really isn’t except for activity in Sanpete. Applied Composite Technology Aerospace, Freedom Innovations and Christensen Arms are three diverse manufacturers among the top 25 employers in the region. Applied and Freedom both employ advanced composite materials in their products, but the former targets aerospace and the latter surgical appliance (prosthetics) and supplies. Christensen is a small-arms manufacturer.
And we should talk turkey. Moroni Feed, best known for its Norbest products, raises turkeys, but also processes the turkey into many turkey products. And that is a form of manufacturing. Ground turkey, deli turkey products, turkey roasts, turkey ham and pastrami — all food processing manufacturing. Only Snow College and the local school district employ more people than Moroni Feed/Norbest.
8. Southwest Economic Service area comprising Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Washington and Kane counties.
Color Country, right? The Shakespeare Festival. Bryce and Zion National Parks. Utah’s winter playground.
Two counties in this region buck the moniker: Iron and Washington. While Iron County has recently seen significant losses in manufacturing and leisure and hospitality, its manufacturing base includes four of the top 15 county employers: Genpak, Metalcraft, AMPAC and Smead Manufacturing. Sixty-Six other manufacturers call Iron County home.
Washington County does even better, with three times the manufacturers — 183. These companies are a diverse lot including steel fabrication, aerospace components, electronics for telecom, chemicals, cabinetry, industrial and commercial glass panels and machine shops. California manufacturers have moved facilities to southwest Utah to take advantage of business-friendly Utah versus California. Other firms have opened doors to service southwest Utah as well as Las Vegas and environs.
One thing attracting manufacturers and building is a skilled labor pool coming from a program at the Dixie Applied Technology College (one of the UCAT campuses) called “Manufacturing Operations,” which teaches best practices in operations, safety, quality and leadership. It can culminate in a Capstone Certificate of Manufacturing Operations and 30 credit hours to Dixie State University.
Let’s compare manufacturing against the “stay & play” industry we love about Washington County — accommodations and food services. There are certainly a lot more people employed and a lot more employers in this hospitality industry, but the average monthly paycheck is $1,961, compared to $2,959 for manufacturing employees. That’s about a thousand dollars a month difference. That could make a big impact on a family’s budget. No wonder officials in the Southwest Region are eager to attract manufacturers to their industrial parks.
From this “manufacturing tour” of the state, we can see the importance of manufacturing throughout Utah — weakest in the northeast and southeast territories, but solid top to bottom through the I-15 corridor and even into areas of Highway 89. Around the state, manufacturers cut paychecks that total over $6 billion annually to almost 119,000 Utahns — about one in every 10 workers. So, far from going away, it appears manufacturing is here to stay. And for every big name company we recognize, there are hundreds of small businesses working hard to make a name and a reputation for themselves. As I said before, “In Utah, manufacturing really does matter.”
Paul Olsen has worked in manufacturing in Utah for over 25 years. He currently works with small to mid-sized manufactures to boost their organization and processes to reach their potential at Protential LLC.