Way to Grow! Startups and Small Manufacturer Success Stories

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What might inspire you to take the plunge and start a new manufacturing company? Perhaps the opportunity to play a key role in innovation and new product development? Small and mid-sized manufacturers represent almost 99 percent of manufacturing establishments in the United States and these “little guys,” “underdogs,” and “mom and pop shops” are creating big value for the economy and jobs for their communities. I offer these three examples of very different success stories in Wyoming, New York and Pittsburgh.

In Wyoming, Dr. Joseph McGinley, M.D., a radiologist at a large medical facility had many ideas for medical and dental applications. One was already patented—a smart surgical drill that automatically determines the depth of a hole being drilled to reduce human error and costs in orthopedic procedures. But he wasn’t quite sure how to take the next step to production and sales.

McGinley met with an engineer from Manufacturing-Works, the MEP Center in Wyoming, who helped him build a new business based on his technology. They first ran a simulation to determine that the concept had a high chance of success. The center then provided McGinley with professional start-up assistance, working through the Food and Drug Administration approval process and building out his manufacturing supply chain. With the center’s help, McGinley launched his new company and projects $2 million in sales in his first year, with 200 percent anticipated growth in his second year.

In New York, a start-up LED company was able to rapidly scale its manufacturing operation with the assistance of the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership partner (Central New York Technology Development Organization – CNYTDO) near Syracuse. With only five employees, Aquarii, Inc., faced a host of common start up challenges and needed early stage financing, production start-up assistance, supply chain development, and quality management.

CNYTDO was able to help the company secure more funding and introduced the founders to a production scale-up expert. CNYTDO also connected them with a distribution channel and helped develop a list of potential suppliers. As a result, Aquarii achieved first-year sales of $800,000 and is already looking to move to a larger facility.

In East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ForeFront Product Design LLC grew tremendously with the help of the PA MEP Center partner (Catalyst Connection). The 8-person company creates spray systems for several commercial market sectors. Based on customer feedback and needs, ForeFront set out to redesign its flagship product as well as re-shore some of its manufacturing.

With the help of Catalyst Connection, ForeFront was able to leverage local resources to assist with the redesign and prototype creation, build out a local supplier network, and implement a new commercial strategy with additional sales channels. As a result, sales projections became 10 times greater than the prior year’s sales.

You can read the full success stories for Dr. McGinley, Aquarii, Inc., and ForeFront Product Design LLC on the NIST MEP website.

If you are a startup or a small manufacturer looking to grow, one of the MEP Centers located across the country can provide assistance. Give your local center a call today and see how it might lead you to becoming a U.S. manufacturing success story.

About Author

Tab Wilkins

Tab Wilkins is Regional Manager for Strategic Transition and Senior Technology Advisor at NIST MEP, primarily supporting Centers in the western US. Prior to joining NIST, Tab helped establish and run two MEP centers and has a varied background in non-profit management, leadership development and technology-based Economic Development.

4 Comments

  1. With the decline of manufacturing jobs in the US, it is inspiring to see new startups coming into this space. It’s good to know that MEP Centers are there to support manufacturing startups. I have seen some exciting products come on the market via Kickstarter. Unfortunately, most of them outsource manufacturing to overseas companies.

  2. Thank’s Tab Wilkins. The three stories have you describe in your post is a great example of success stories.
    Also, it’s nice that MEP centers across the country can provide assistance who are looking to grow.

  3. This one is my favorite: ForeFront redesigned it’s flagship product based on customer feedback and needs.
    Well, just listen (carefully) to your customers and give them exactly what they require. In return, they will push your growth upwards – fast.

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