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Press Release

Friday, October 25

AWB Honors Top Washington Manufacturers

Manufacturing Excellence Awards recognize innovation, operational excellence

SEATAC — SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, which spins the high-tech carbon fiber that gives BMW’s new all-electric car its lightweight strength, was named the 2013 Manufacturer of the Year Friday by the Association of Washington Business.

This Moses Lake company was one of five employers honored by AWB during the association’s annual Manufacturing Summit for their contributions to the state’s economy.

Fluid Motion of Kent received the Operational Excellence Award for its fast-growing line of recreational boats. Genie received the Innovation Award for its industrial lifts, including the world’s tallest self-propelled “superboom.” ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston was given the Green Manufacturing Award for its sustainability initiatives. The Continuous Commitment Award went to The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., for its employment and empowerment of the deaf and deaf-blind.

The 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Awards are sponsored by UPS and the AWB Institute, AWB’s manufacturing, education and workforce development arm.

“As the state’s manufacturing association, AWB understands the value of manufacturing to Washington’s economy,” said Kris Johnson, AWB vice president of operations. “These businesses are perfect examples of the innovation at work in Washington state. They represent where the manufacturing industry is headed.

“We are excited to honor these manufacturers for their contributions to our state’s economy,” Johnson said. “We can’t wait to see what they create next.”

More about these five innovative Washington manufacturers and their 2013 AWB awards:

2013 Manufacturer of the Year

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, Moses Lake

This summer, BMW unveiled its cutting-edge i3 electric car at simultaneous high-profile events in New York, London and Beijing. But the real star of the show — the car’s carbon fiber — came from right here in Washington state.  BMW cuts the weight of its electric car frame by half using carbon fiber made at SGL’s state-of-the-art factory in Moses Lake. Less than a year after its groundbreaking ceremony in July 2010, SGL was producing carbon fiber in its LEED Gold facility. BMW chose Washington for its supply chain because abundant, inexpensive hydropower means their plant runs on 100 percent renewable energy, lowering the carbon footprint of this groundbreaking car. The BMW i3 goes further on a single charge because of its strong, lightweight carbon fiber composite body. The new carbon age has arrived, and it started in Moses Lake.

Operational Excellence Award
This award is given based on a manufacturing process that is distinctive, including continuous improvement, environmental solutions/innovations, lean and six sigma, R&D leadership and/or application of high technology.

Fluid Motion, maker of Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats, Kent

The boating industry shrank during the Great Recession, but Fluid Motion weathered the storm. This 55-year-old company quadrupled in size over the past six years thanks to innovative products and manufacturing. Their sideways thrusters – unheard of on boats of this size – make docking a cinch. Solar panels, diesel engines and a unique hull design all increase efficiency and convenience. Their boats are also designed to easily fit on a trailer. These “boater homes” even double as campers during cross-country road trips. The company buys its thousands of parts locally, which allows them to keep an eye on quality and quickly respond to potential problems in the supply chain. These made-in-Washington boats bring nautical dreams to life for a growing armada of satisfied customers.

Innovation Award
This award highlights significant progress in designing, developing and delivering a blockbuster product concept. This honoree has maintained a competitive advantage by sustaining considerable innovation while remaining responsive to market demands. The products made in this facility are unique and innovative.

Genie, Redmond

Genie’s 180-foot “superboom” lift turns heads wherever it goes, and this one-of-a-kind lift is quickly going global. The boom is designed for customers who wanted to go higher and do more with greater control. A team led by eight full-time engineers spent three years designing this telescopic boom, which is 20 percent taller than any other self-propelled lift on the planet. Even when fully retracted this giant is road-legal for hauling without an over-width permit. Other Genie products also meet evolving market needs, including a new Operator Protective Structure — a tubular bolt-on safety device. Another new product, a 15,000-pound telehandler, offers operator comfort and a 44-foot lift height that’s like a multi-story forklift —  just another innovation born in Washington and changing the world.


Green Manufacturing Award

Judges evaluated firms on whether they have maximized energy efficiency levels, gone above and beyond regulatory requirements, minimized waste from the production process and reduced their carbon footprint. Converting green manufacturing into a business opportunity was also considered.

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Kennewick

The seven ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston plants in Washington produce high quality food sustainably, living out the company’s goals of being “Good for You, Good for the Community and Good for the Planet.” Their facilities in Washington divert more than 95 percent of their waste away from landfills. Over the past five years they have saved 22 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 350 million gallons of water. The efforts of ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston plants in Washington support the company’s 2020 vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and water usage by 20 percent for each pound of product produced.  

Continuous Commitment Award

This award is presented to an AWB member company that has demonstrated manufacturing excellence year after year, throughout its operations.

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., Seattle

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., employs the blind and deaf-blind to fabricate highly precise parts for customers ranging from The Boeing Company to the Department of Defense. It has ISO certifications with superior quality and on-time ratings from its customers. This private, not-for-profit agency employs 230 people with visual impairments at its main facility in Seattle and a satellite plant in Spokane. Their equipment is modified to make them accessible to the blind, deaf-blind and visually impaired. From hydroform manufacturing to water-jet cutting, metal fabricating to radio frequency sealing, they use the latest technology and specialize in quick-turn, one-off orders. The Lighthouse for the Blind provides both empowerment to the blind and the highest quality to customers.

Video profiles of each of the five award winners are available via the AWB website.  Award photos will also be available online.

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 more than 8,100 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, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 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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