Day One of 2018 bus tour highlights variety, strength of Washington's manufacturers (w/ video)
The crisp, clean smell of mint and a bright autumn sunrise set the stage for AWB's 2018 Manufacturing Week tour Thursday morning.
The seven-day tour to highlight the importance of Washington's manufacturing economy began in Lacey at Callisons, a leading world supplier of mint oils and flavors.
Callisons is among the more than 7,000 manufacturing firms across the state that pay employees an average annual salary of more than $72,000 -- critical contributions to creating a strong economic foundation throughout the state.
Arriving just before sunrise, visitors were greeted by the refreshing aroma of fresh mint. Callisons was founded in 1903 -- just one year before AWB -- and produces flavors for the oral care, confectionary and beverage industries.
It’s one of dozens of manufacturers that AWB will visit during this year’s tour of Washington manufaturers.
The family-owned company employs 195 people. A tour of the company’s immaculate headquarters included research and development facilities, a production facility, administrative offices and arguably the best-smelling greenhouse in America, with a variety of spearmint, citrus and other flavors.
"This is the great hidden jewel of Thurston County," said U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-10, who joined AWB. "And the only thing I want to say about that with respect to its products is, I can guarantee you...every single person in this room has consumed their product in the last 24 hours."
Heck also underscored the importance of the manufacturing to our state and nation.
"It's important, frankly, because this is where the jobs of the future are being created, and we have to make sure that we have the framework to enable not just our businesses but our citizens to be able to partake of that and participate in that," Heck said. "This is where the good-paying jobs are."There are 3,407 manufacturing jobs in Thurston County that pay an average of $53,415 a year, according to the state Employment Security Department.
After Callisons’ staff members signed the side of the bus, the tour moved to Print NW in Lakewood, where 160 employees produce a wide variety of printed products, apparel, banners and vehicle wraps each year, including AWB’s magazine, Washington Business.
The tour arrived at Puget Sound Energy’s Tacoma Clean LNG facility late Thursday morning. The facility will provide a clean and cost-effective gas supply resource for Puget Sound Energy’s natural gas customers, and a cleaner fuel alternative forships, company officials say.
AWB staff signed a “time capsule” inside the tank, which is 10 stories tall and will eventually hold 8 million gallons of clean-burning LNG.
From there, the bus crossed the Tacoma Narrows to Inventech Marine Solutions in Bremerton, which manufactures aluminum boats and collar systems. Like many Washington manufacturers, the company faces a challenge finding enough skilled workers.
In Poulsbo, the bus stopped at R. Mathews Optical Works, which manufactures custom precision optical components. It is the only optics manufacturer in Washington state and is the first in the US to manufacture aspheric optics in production.
AWB also visited Waston Furniture Group in Poulsbo, which creates commercial office furniture and consoles for emergency communication centers. The company employs 225 people.
"I love manufacturing. I love building," Watson Furniture CEO Clif McKenzie said. "We're well-recognized in our industry for good design."
AWB’s 2018 Manufacturing Week tour will keep on rolling through Friday, Oct. 12. The tour will reach dozens of manufacturers in every corner of the state, from Ritzville to Vancouver to Walla Walla and Chehalis.