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September 29, 2017

AWB's Manufacturing Week bus tour begins on Olympic Peninsula

By: Jason Hagey   Comments: 0
Instructor Olivier Huin talks about traditional and contemporary techniques during a tour of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding on Port Hadlock on Sept. 30, 2017 on the first leg of the AWB Manufacturing Week Tour. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)
AWB’s first-ever statewide manufacturing bus took off early Friday from Port Townsend, making its first stop at the The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock. The school, founded in 1981, is not only helping preserve the craft of wooden boatbuilding, but also addressing the shortage of skilled labor in the maritime sector.

"The industry is thirsty for people under 65," said Executive Director Betsy Davis.

The tour is aimed at celebrating Washington's manufacturers and raising awareness about the challenges they face - and what we can do to help them.

The next stop was SAFE Boats International in Bremerton, a company that specializes in manufacturing defense and security boats. The company, founded in a garage 1997, employs 300 people and sells to customers all around the world.

MFGtour17 SAFE Boats Intl 1

Touring SAFE Boats International near Bremerton on the first leg of the AWB Manufacturing Week Tour. This 20-year-old company makes rugged aluminum boats used by the Coast Guard and customers around the world. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

One of its most successful models is a patrol boat used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It has seen more combat time than any boat since Vietnam, said CEO Dennis Morris.One of the biggest challenges facing the company is finding skilled labor, particularly welders, Morris said.

Other stops included:

  • Taylor Shellfish in Shelton, which sends the equivalent of three semi-truckloads of shellfish out of Sea-Tac Airport each day
  • Simpson Door in McCleary, a one-time commodity door builder that has adapted to changing market tastes by specializing in custom designs
  • Vaughan Company in Montesano, a family-owned company that makes heavy-duty chopping pumps for a variety of industries including food processing and municipal wastewater; and
  • Ocean Protein, a fishmeal processing facility in Hoquiam.

MFGtour17 Simpson Door 1
Dozens of employees came out from Simpson Door Co. in McCleary to sign the Manufacturing Bus today during the first day of AWB's cross-state tour.
The bus tour resumed today with a second bus leaving Olympia this afternoon. It continues Monday with a  bus departing from Olympia and heading south before swinging east and heading back to Seattle for Thursday's AWB Institute Manufacturing Summit. The second bus departs from Bellingham, heading east through the North Cascades and south through the Palouse before the westward drive to Seattle to meet up with bus one.

Watch the bus tour and all the stops online here and follow the tour on Twitter at #MfgIsWA. Photos from the trip are online in this photo gallery.