October 15, 2018

AWB awards Green Manufacturer of the Year on final leg of 2018 tour

By: Jason Hagey   Comments: 0
(Above) An employee at Insitu signs the AWB bus Friday morning on the final day of a seven-day bus tour celebrating Washington manufacturers. (Below) State Sen. Lynda Wilson, center, and Rep. Vicki Kraft, third from left, join the tour at Tidewater Transportation and Terminals. (Photos: Brian Mittge/AWB)

The final day of AWB’s bus tour started with an early-morning visit to Insitu, the pioneering manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems. Located along the Columbia River in the tiny town of Bingen, the company headquarters is a state-of-the-art LEED certified building at the Port of Klickitat.

The company, a subsidiary of Boeing, designs, produces and operates unmanned aircraft systems in a variety of sectors including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as government and commercial industries.

After a short tour of the facilities, the bus headed west for the Port of Vancouver and the Hawthorne Gardening Co. The company, which recently acquired Sunlight Supply, Inc., manufactures hydroponic growing products in a spotless facility at the Port of Vancouver’s Centennial Industrial Building. The company is growing rapidly and now employs 250 in Vancouver.

The next stop was at Great Western Malting, located nearby inside the Port of Vancouver property. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler joined the tour as AWB President Kris announced the company is the recipient of AWB’s 2018 Manufacturing Excellence for Green Manufacturing award. Founded in 1934, Great Western is the oldest malting company in the western U.S., operating plants both in Vancouver and Pocatello, Idaho.

As Great Western’s employees gathered for a barbecue lunch, the AWB tour bus headed to Tidewater Transportation and Terminals. State Sen. Lynda Wilson and Rep. Vicki Kraft joined the group and toured the Ryan Point, a state-of-the-art towboat built in 2016. The boat is environmentally friendly with reduced air emissions and fuel efficiency and more comfortable for crew members.

Tidewater, which was founded in 1932, is an important part of Washington’s export economy, delivering wheat and other agriculture products from Eastern Washington to West Coast ports. David Konz of Tidewater used the visit to underscore the importance of the Snake River dams for the region’s economic and environmental health.

One barge carries as much cargo as 134 trucks, Konz said, and each towboat typically pushes four barges, or as much as 538 trucks. The company typically makes the trip through the Columbia River Gorge 1,500 times per year.

Removing the dams, as some have proposed, would move all of that cargo to trucks and rail, but Konz said there just isn’t enough capacity in those systems.

From there, the bus rolled north for refreshment break at the Walmart in Woodlands and the penultimate tour stop at Experimental Aircraft Metal Fabrication located at the Curtis Airstrip in west Lewis County.

Steve and Jilene Furjesi run the business in a shop behind their rural home where they manufacture parts for experimental and small aircraft.

After seven days and 1,700 miles on the road, the bus pulled into Dynamic Systems Technology, Inc. in Olympia for the final stop of the 2018 tour. The company was founded in 1992 and builds custom machine control systems and robotics for companies throughout the world.

Like many of the manufacturers AWB visited this year, DST is a small company that contributes in a big way to the state’s manufacturing sector. From the small garage-based operations like Hobart Machined Products and Experimental Aircraft Metal Fabrication to The Boeing Company, communities in every corner of the state benefit from the good wages and rich careers that manufacturing provides.

And for manufacturers like Steve Furjesi and his wife and may more we encountered on the tour, manufacturing is more than a job.

“I like manufacturing and I like airplanes, so we’ve kind of made it our life,” he said.

2018 Manufacturing Week Bus Tour - Friday, October 12 Highlights from Association of WA Business on Vimeo.