October 3, 2019

Day 2: Manufacturing Week bus tour hits King County (w/ video)

By: Brian Mittge   Comments: 0

An employee at Skills Inc. in Auburn washes off flourescent dye-based oil on aerospace parts. Black lights will excite the flourescent dye, showing any cracks, corrosion, pits or surface defects. Skills Inc. employs 550 people making and testing aerospace parts for 140 worldwide customers. This social enterprise focuses on hiring persons with disabilities — 60% of their employees. The AWB Manufacturing Week tour visited the facility on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

The power of manufacturing jobs was in evidence during the second day of AWB’s Manufacturing Week bus tour. The first two stops were at social enterprise businesses that employ those with disabilities and other barriers to employment — offering training and mentoring to help them find and keep permanent jobs that allow them to have apartments, independent living, families and the lives they desire.

Other stops were at family-owned businesses that are creating new products in some of the oldest and newest technologies.

We ended the day at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the gateway for so many Washington-made goods that are built here and exported to the world.

The tour continues Friday — national Manufacturing Day — with more stops in the central Puget Sound region, and continues next week in northwest and eastern Washington. Follow along at #MFGisWA.

Orion Industries

The day began at Orion Industries in Auburn, an aerospace manufacturer that focuses on hiring those with disabilities or other barriers to employment. Skilled mentors help trainees, teaching them skills and encouraging them as they gain confidence.

After their time at Orion, these trainees earn jobs that give them a high quality of life.

Orion was founded in a church basement in 1957 and has grown to 425 employees, making it the 10th-largest aerospace employer in Washington.

Skills Inc.

Skills Inc. employs 550 people making and testing aerospace parts for 140 worldwide customers. This social enterprise focuses on hiring persons with disabilities — 60% of their employees.

The Manufacturing Week bus toured one of the 54-year-old company’s three plants in Auburn. The plant processes 3.4 million parts processed every day.

Seattle-Tacoma Box Co.

Ferd Nist, the president of the Seattle-Tacoma Box Co., the fourth generation of his family to run the Seattle-born company, and his granddaughter, Erika, a public relations and sustainability leader at the company (and one of four members of the sixth generation of the family to work at the firm), welcomed AWB members on a tour of their Kent facility.

The company started in 1889 on the site where Amazon's HQ sits today. Now in Kent, this sixth-generation company continues to break new ground on products used across the nation and world, including wooden vaults used for door-to-door storage boxes.

Out of the Box Manufacturing

Out of the Box Manufacturing is a millennial-owned high-tech startup that assembles custom electronics and circuit boards. The owners, Chad & Allison Budvarson, started the business in their garage 11 years ago. They now have nearly 60 employees at a bustling facility in Renton.

Sea-Tac Airport

With so many Washington products — from salmon to electronics — being shipped across the world by air, it was a natural fit for the AWB Manufacturing Week bus to visit Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Delta Air gave AWB staff, legislators and other community leaders an inside peak at the company’s cargo facility and a VIP reception in Delta’s new lounge.

Port of Seattle engineers talked about the nearly $2 billion in major expansion projects at the airport.

Alaska Air closed down the day with a tour of its new lounge, built in the newly expanded North Satellite Terminal.

Day Two Highlights