MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR SMALL
Pro CNC, Bellingham
Pro CNC got its start in 1997 when three
Western Washington University graduates coming out of that Vehicle
Research Institute decided they wanted
to design and build the next generation of
energy-efficient car. To do that, they reasoned, they first needed a machine shop to
make components for the car and to bring
in a little business on the side to keep the
The dream car is sill on hold, but in the
meantime, what Darcy Hughes, Paul Van
Metre and Kelsey Heikoop have built is a
60-employee, $7.5 million-a-year machine
shop, with specialties in production for the
aerospace and electronics industries. The
company has averaged annual growth of
nearly 20 percent for the past three years.
In addition to products it builds for others,
Pro CNC has spun out a few of its own
such as ProShop, software for managing a
machine shop, which sold to other
machine shops. also partnered
with another Bellingham company, Theo
Wanne, to make high-end saxophone and
Cascade Designs, Seattle
Sage Manufacturing President
Travis Campbell, left, with IT/
Operations Director Larry Barrett.
Sage Manufacturing Corporation
Can you make a name for yourself as a small company in the vast world of fishing gear?
You can if Sage Manufacturing, a star in the world of fly fishing. Can you really
find something new to offer in a well-established category like sport fishing? Yes, again,
Founded in 1980, Sage continues to introduce new technology. Its latest product is
the One rod, incorporating aerospace-grade carbon fiber in a design that has a smaller
diameter and weighs 25 percent less than previous models, while also offering greater
For 2012, Sage is branching out into clothing, introducing a line of what it calls angling to keep customers comfortable flats in the blazing sun to
chasing steelhead in an ice-cold
As with other successful companies among this honorees, on the inside at
Sage counts as much as its product line. Through application of lean techniques, Sage has
cut costs per fly rod by more than percent. Sage reconfigured its production floor to improve work flow and invested in an automated cutting machine to replace hand cutting.
Aside from reducing scrap and production time, the switch also eliminated hand injuries
and dramatically reduced comp claims.
SB may 2012
The maker of the Therm-a-Rest camping
mattress celebrates its 40th anniversary
this year, but not resting on its achievements. In 2011, the company invested in
additional production capacity to meet
demand for mattresses and the MSR camp
stove (80 percent of the products are made at its SoDo headquarters).
It introduced a new Hummingbird line of
luggage and gear for adventure travelers.
And it came up with the SealLine ECases, waterproof containers for personal
electronic devices that still allow access to
touch-screen and voice capabilities.
A company that markets to outdoor
adventurers needs an environmental orientation. Cascade Designs says most of its
packaging uses recycled materials and is
itself recyclable. SealLine and Hummingbird gear is PVC free. Metal manufacturing
processes are zero waste. And paper use
has been cut by eliminating printed catalogs and creating a paperless manufacturing system.
photograph by hayley young