2016 Manufacturing Awards

Nearly one hundred and fifty business, government and community leaders from all across Southwest Virginia gathered at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on Thursday, October 6th, to celebrate manufacturing and its contributions to the economy in the region. At its annual Manufacturers’ Appreciation and Awards Dinner, the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing reviewed its successful year of promotion of manufacturing as a career and renewed its commitment to continued growth in this all-important sector of Southwest Virginia’s economy.

This year SVAM invited Tim Long, Director of Macromolecules and Interfaces at Virginia Tech, to join us for the evening as our keynote speaker. Professor Long’s speech was entitled “How 3D Printing Will Change Our World.” Universal Fibers of Bristol, Virginia provided 3D printed whistles as favors for the guests; they brought a 3D printer to the dinner and guests were delighted to see how their favors were produced.

Five manufacturers received awards to recognize their growth and contributions to the community. The Environmental Stewardship Award was presented to Tadano Mantis Corporation of Tazewell County, Virginia; The Innovations in Manufacturing Award was presented to Bristol Compressors of Bristol, Virginia; The Excellence in Safety Award was presented to General Dynamics of Smyth County, Virginia; The Community Involvement award was presented to Scholle IPN Packaging of Smyth County, Virginia; and the Manufacturer of the Year award was given to Strongwell of Bristol, Virginia. The Trailblazer of the Year award was presented to Jeff Dunnack for going above and beyond to support the SVAM mission. The 2016 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing, Vicky Kiser, was also recognized during the evening.

SVAM would like to thank its sponsors for this event: Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board, The Manufacturing Technology Center, United Way of Southwest Virginia, The Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, and The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.


Environmental Stewardship Award Presented to Tadano Mantis Corporation of Tazewell County, Virginia

Tadano Mantis Corporation, chosen for this year’s award, has contributed various efforts to be in full compliance with EPA requirements and new Virginia guidelines. This company is proud to be the first to have implemented the imbrium manufactured Jellyfish Filter. This filter is an engineered storm water quality treatment technology featuring pretreatment and membrane filtration in a compact stand-alone treatment system that removes a high level and wide variety of storm water pollutants. This filter removes floatables, trash, oil, debris, TSS, fine silt-sized particles, and a high percentage of particulate-bound pollutant.

The implementation of the Jellyfish filter was a way to ensure that pollutants were not introduced into the Clinch River by this company. This company paved the way for a new way of removing pollutants and the discharges in water. No one before them has implemented this sort of technology. The expert plan also managed and permitted habitat conservation for the endangered mussels in the Clinch River. A win-win situation for the environment.

This company supports and are committed to protecting the ecosystems and communities by complying with EPA requirements, careful planning to measure progress toward goals of environmental stewardship, and to interact with community involvement to provide input and aid in environmental conservation efforts.


Innovations in Manufacturing Award Presented to Bristol Compressors of Bristol, Virginia

Innovations In Manufacturing Award Presented To Bristol Compressors Of Bristol, VirginiaIn their efforts to stay globally competitive, Bristol Compressors took a look at their international competition and saw the need to change the way they conducted business. This company’s innovative activity involved implementing cell based manufacturing.

Seeing a customer demand shift from large quantity of a few variations of models, to small quantities of many variations of models, their innovative challenge was to re-design manufacturing to have the capability of building the same quantity per day but performing 50-80 model change overs in a day.

Their process went from 2 straight lines of 200 feet long of people performing the same task every day to a new process consisting of 5 individual “U” shaped assembly cells, and a kitting cell, where operators work as an 8 person team, rotating jobs inside a 40 foot cell.
Through this new implementation, they now have the flexibility in their manufacturing process to build what the customer wants and reduce working capital. They have seen an increase of daily efficiency and productivity of 12% over the past 6 months. Through a culture shift and coaching of the workforce, this company has been placed in a new mindset to go forward.


Excellence in Safety Award Presented to General Dynamics of Smyth County, Virginia

The Excellence In Safety Award Presented To General Dynamics Of Smyth County, VirginiaGeneral Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems strives to “walk the talk” in demonstrating that safety truly is the most important aspect of everyone’s job. They do this by talking about safety daily, and emphasizing it first in every presentation they give, whether the message is being delivered by their company President or frontline supervisors.

They have an active and vibrant Joint Health and Safety Committee that is comprised of voluntary representatives from their hourly and salaried employees and includes representatives from all three plants of operations. This committee stays focused on staying educated about workplace safety, how to engage employees on the shop floor, and teach innovative ways to continuously improve their safety program.

This past year, the company engaged the workforce by conducting a safety slogan contest open to all employees. Hundreds of entries were submitted with the final selection being “Safety by Choice, Not by Chance.” To help foster a sense of ownership of this slogan, they purchased jackets for every employee with the slogan embroidered on the chest.

During the month of July 2016, this company achieved two very significant milestones: the first was reaching 1,000,000 hours worked without a Lost Time Accident, and the second was by completing a full year of operation without a Lost Time Accident.

The implementation of an on-site clinic and services provided by a Nurse Practitioner, have each provided creative and innovative ways to promote workplace safety through individual work task analysis, effective and prompt employee treatment, and. Regular workplace safety education.

To help ensure consistency with their safety program, the company undergoes regular internal and external audits.

They are truly deserving of recognition.


Community Involvement Award Presented to Scholle IPN Packaging of Smyth County, Virginia

Scholle IPN Packaging is well known in the manufacturing community for going above and beyond for its employees. What many may not know, is how they go above and beyond for the community.

This company’s community involvement is not only centered in their immediate area, but widespread across the globe. In their award nomination form, this company provided a list of 24 local, state, and national organizations and efforts that they participate in. The impact of their participation has helped multiple sectors to include: soldiers and their families, school children, cancer patients, emergency responders, individuals in need of food, clothing or shelter, and many many more.

They see helping the community as a journey that does not end for their company – a journey to make the world a better place. Through fundraisers or donations of goods, time or money, they feel that 100% of their workforce is involved in their programs.

Employee engagement and involvement in their efforts to give back, is highly important to this company. Employees are encouraged to suggest which programs they want to become involved in. Each year a committee kaizen is held to determine which activities the company will support for the coming year. Sign-up sheets are then posted so that each team members has the chance to volunteer for an activity they are most passionate about. As an organization, a Global Team sets goals for community involvement. These goals include: increasing social responsibility activities to 3-5 activities per site, each site supports a local food bank, and reduce greenhouse gases by 15% and reduce landfill waste by 50%.

In their nomination form, this company stated, “Being involved in our community brings us together to make a difference. It gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment. We are involved because we want to be, because we understand, and it is who we are.”


Manufacturer of the Year Award Presented to Strongwell of Bristol, Virginia

Manufacturer Of The Year Award Presented To Strongwell Of Bristol, VirginiaStrongwell has grown from a furniture factory and through evolution of need, ultimately became a composites manufacturing location and, in 1956, began producing products using a revolutionary new manufacturing method – pultrusion. They are now the world’s largest pultrusion company, with more than 65 machines and 730,000 square feet of manufacturing space to create over 20 product lines for the domestic and international markets. Their pultruded grating and structural shapes recently won multiple awards and gained international notoriety. This company is proud of the fact that they have never endured a layoff.

With a focused dedication on continuous learning and innovation, Strongwell recently took advantage of three local innovating opportunities: utilizing Lean Six Sigma green belt training, participating in the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Tradeshow Assistance Program, and participating in SVAM’s Southwest Virginia Manufacturers’ Expo.

When it comes to Corporate Citizenship, this is a company we’ve actively watch participate in the betterment of youth and the community. It is important to Strongwell to always plan for succession. Through partnerships with SVAM, this company has participated in Manufacture Your Career, a program to provide a great firsthand resource for students to discuss the differences between manufacturing and other career sectors. Mentorship and supporting students is a major focus of this company. This company supports the education and growth of high school students by mentorship and teaching in the field of robotics. They also offer manufacturing internships to qualified local college students. This company routinely hosts young girls from the YWCA’s TechGYRLS program to emphasize the importance of STEM and to break traditional gender barriers — did you know their workforce is comprised of over 60% women?

Their humanitarian efforts include giving of both their time, resources, and abilities by participation with Children’s Advocacy Center, participating in blood drives, and supporting United Way of Bristol. This company is very proud to have received United Way’s “Top Giver Award” for four consecutive years.

Along with their charity work, they are also committed to strengthening the community and giving back to the manufacturing world by participating in several business groups across the region and the nation.


Trailblazer of the Year Award Presented to Jeff Dunnack

Trailblazer Of The Year Award Presented To Jeff DunnackJeff Dunnack made the decision for his company to become a member of SVAM in August 2015. Since joining, he has shown a passion and commitment to SVAM that has gone beyond expectations. Throughout the year SVAM reaches out to member companies for participation in various programming efforts. Jeff has written letters of support for several Grant projects and is always willing to provide input to support SVAM when it comes to efforts to support manufacturing in the region. When it came to volunteering this year, this person stepped up for nearly every opportunity provided. He selflessly opened up his facility for various tours, provided door prizes for various events, hosted a training for SVAM, participated in panel discussions to promote manufacturing careers as part of Manufacture Your Career, and participated in videos by both being interviewed and opening up his facility for filming. When SVAM was searching for someone to serve as the new Center of Excellence Chair, he stepped up to the challenge. While many organizations have very significantly contributed to SVAM, we could think of no other person whose name showed up as a volunteer or participant for so much of what SVAM accomplished this year.