Press Release

Tuesday, October 8

AWB's Manufacturing Tour Celebrates Central Washington Employers

COLVILLE — The Association of Washington Business today celebrated the pioneering family businesses that support much of Central Washington’s economy.

AWB’s Manufacturing Week bus tour started the day at the Port of Chelan County’s Cashmere Mill District where officials are redeveloping a former mill site for new industrial uses. From there, the bus headed to Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, where the Mathison family grows, packs and markets apples, pears, special cherry varieties and more. The family’s farming story goes back 100 years and six generations. It’s just part of a statewide industry that produced more than 300 commodities valued at $10.6 billion in 2017.

“Washington’s farms and ranches are vitally important to the overall health of our state economy,” AWB President Kris Johnson says. “The quality and variety of our agricultural products is simply incredible, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of rural communities across the state.”

AWB’s tour continued to Hewes Marine in Colville, where the growing company produces nearly five fishing boats per day. The company’s mission is to design, build and market the safest, most functional aluminum fishing boats on the market. It was founded in 1948 and currently employs 160 people.

The next stop was just across the road at Vaagen Timbers, where the company uses the latest technology to produce cross laminated timber and glue laminated beams. This process uses smaller trees to make commercial lumber products. Many Western U.S. forests are overgrown, and harvesting these small diameter trees can create new products, improve forest health and reduce wildfire risks.

The manufacturing tours were part of AWB’s seven-day cross-state trip to highlight Washington’s manufacturing sector and the nearly $59 billion in economic output and more than 287,000 good-paying jobs it creates.

“AWB’s Manufacturing Week bus tour is a celebration of Washington’s incredible manufacturing sector,” AWB President Kris Johnson says. “Manufacturing means good jobs, great products and a solid foundation for the economic health of our state. We’re proud to represent such extraordinary employers, from thousands of family businesses — many of them starting in a garage or basement — to some of the world’s biggest companies. We look forward to hearing their stories along the way and learning how we can help them advocate for smart policies that help manufacturers grow.”

Manufacturing has a big impact on Washington’s working families and communities as well. More than 287,000 people worked at 7,636 manufacturing firms in 2017. The average compensation was more than $88,000 per year. Many of these jobs offer training and career opportunities without a traditional four-year college degree and are popular with those seeking to avoid student loan debt.

Today’s tour covered Chelan County, which had 1,896 manufacturing jobs that pay an average wage of $38,532 in 2017, the state Employment Security Department reports. The tour also covered Stevens County, where 1,109 manufacturing jobs paid an average wage of $50,596.

The tour begins again Wednesday in Spokane, and the rest of Washington through Oct. 10. The tour will cover outdoor equipment manufacturers, maker spaces, community colleges, boat manufacturers and more.

This year’s tour includes dozens of employers and will cover more than 1,400 miles.

Follow AWB’s 2019 Manufacturing Tour in real time on AWB’s Olympia Business Watch blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and Vimeo channel.

For high-resolution photos from AWB’s Manufacturing Week tour, including print-quality photos from each tour stop, visit AWB’s Google Photos account. All photos are available for media use in print and online. Contact AWB Photo Editor Brian Mittge ( with technical questions about photos.

For B-roll of any event during the tour, contact Brian Temple ( or Andrew Lenderman (

About the Association of Washington Business

Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes nearly 7,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing and Microsoft, 92 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit

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