Tag Archives: manufacturing

Michael Bill, CEO of MJ Insurance.

MJ Insurance Named One of the Largest Brokers in U.S.

MJ Insurance, one of the nation’s leading property-casualty and employee benefits agencies, is one of the “100 Largest Broker of U.S. Business” according to Business Insurance magazine. MJ ranked No. 97 in the publication’s 2014 list. This is the second consecutive year that MJ Insurance has received the honor.

Companies are ranked by 2013 brokerage revenue generated by U.S.-based clients. MJ Insurance was recognized by the publication in 2013 as well. The agency increased revenue by more than 11 percent from 2012 to 2013.

“We are proud to be recognized for our growth, but that is only one small measure of our success,” said MJ Insurance CEO Michael H. Bill. “Over the past couple of months we have added new services and employees to better meet the needs of our clients.”

MJ Insurance, with offices in Indiana and Arizona, is a property-casualty and employee benefit agency that, since 1964, has grown from a two-person start-up to an agency with more than 125 employees. In 2014, MJ celebrates its 50th ‘golden’ anniversary.

MJ Insurance specializes in a diverse selection of unique service lines including construction, energy, transportation, real estate, manufacturing, sororities and mining. MJ also offers complete employee benefit programs including major medical, group disability, group life and onsite employer clinics. MJ Insurance currently has clients in 16 countries and in every U.S. state.

ACA helps foster manufacturing matchmaking

“‘What is the overview of manufacturing in the U.S. and Arizona?’ That’s the question no one is asking. It’s a landscape of profound changes — especially for manufacturers who up their game and move up the value chain.”

Brian Sherman is filled with enthusiasm. As the senior vice president of business development for the Arizona Commerce Authority, he is the manufacturing “yenta” for the state’s official economic development agency; a “yenta” being a marriage broker hooking up couples perfect for each other.

“My No. 1 goal for 2014 is bringing together well-established manufacturers with business experience and an eye on growth with the young entrepreneurs who are building businesses from ideas and need prototypes and business acumen,” says Sherman. As the designated matchmaker, Sherman and his team have a new role at Arizona Commerce.

“Arizona is a land of innovation, and that’s what gives us an edge for manufacturers,” he says. “The day of business sitting back and waiting for orders is over. ‘Cranking it out’ has moved offshore, and businesses competing in that marketplace are going to get hit hard on price points.”

“Where a small- or medium-size manufacturer is going to succeed is with technical solutions and not just products. Innovation is what makes this state great,” Sherman’s on a roll. “We’ve got well-established manufacturing businesses aligned with our key sectors—but those same businesses could move into parallel sectors and grow even more. That’s what our team at Arizona Commerce is doing. We’re positioning these businesses for the next trend.”

Parallel sectors: Family classics meet Generation Z
“We have classic family manufacturers across the state. They’ve been around for decades; some for multiple generations. The make stuff.” Sherman calls them ‘salt-of-the-earth’ companies. “They’re starting to feel some of the pressure of the sequestration and recognizing that depending on defense or government is not the road to the future.”

“Then we’ve got these young entrepreneurs. They want to write code. They want to make games and apps,” he enumerates the issues. “They think manufacturing is stodgy, dead end and offshore. But they don’t really see the full picture. They’ll tell me, ‘yes, I have this vendor over in Taiwan and he’ll make this.’ Trying to prototype a product from 10 thousand miles away doesn’t let you see how it’s going to be built.”

“Back at the small manufacturer, let’s say it’s an aerospace or defense business. That’s high-precision work. The skills going into what it’s making now can be adapted into other high-precision manufacturing—like biomedical devices.” Sherman’s enthusiasm is contagious. “So we take the tech startup and the established business, bring them together and show the young entrepreneur that manufacturing can be pretty sexy. We show the manufacturer that the tech startup has the innovations and ideas that can be adapted for future growth.”

RevAZ: Arizona Commerce Authority consulting services
Sherman’s teams at Commerce work with manufacturing businesses as consultants — and in some cases bring in outside consultants — to help businesses transition into the next economy. The service is designed to revitalize Arizona manufacturing. “Rev AZ is just a phone call away,” explains Sherman. “We show how innovation, diversification, and shared knowledge helps companies position for trends and profitably grow. We bring in the experts to help businesses manufacture — both new and old.”

Back to that prototype, he says, “If the tech startup can have the prototype built here, it gives the view of how the production floor needs to function in order to turn out the product. It brings the new generation of innovation and technology into the experienced hands of our existing manufacturing businesses. It also opens new sectors for old business.”

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manufacturing

Quik Tek Assembly Expands into Tucson

Quik Tek Assembly, a minority-owned provider of contract manufacturing services, announced that it has expanded operations to the Tucson region. Quik Assembly Solutions, a division of Quik Tek Assembly, has leased an 8,000 square-foot building at 3450 S. Broadmont, Suite 120, and plans a $700,000 capital investment. The new facility will be open by April 2014.

Quik Tek Assembly, also a Raytheon supplier, provides a wide range of contract manufacturing services including circuit and cable design; PCB layout and manufacture; PCB, cable and mechanical assembly; product testing and the manufacture of complete product ready to ship.

The company plans to hire 50 new positions over the next 5 years. The jobs at the facility will be a mix of engineering, manufacturing, administrative and technician positions. Candidates interested in job opportunities can click here.

Through TREO, the company worked with community partners including the City of Tucson, Pima County One-Stop Career Center, Arizona Commerce Authority and Startup Tucson.

Adan Ortiz, president of Quik Tek Assembly, said: “Southern Arizona is a growing market, and we needed to be close to both existing and new potential customers. Additionally, we look forward to contributing to workforce development by encouraging STEM interest and providing student internships in partnership with The University of Arizona and Pima Community College.”

“Hi-tech manufacturers and suppliers to existing employers are logical fits for the Tucson region,” said Joe Snell, TREO president and CEO. “In addition, Quik Tek is committed to

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MJ Insurance reports record revenue

MJ Insurance, one of the nation’s largest privately-held insurance agencies, has reported double digit year-over-year growth with an 11 percent increase across all business lines. The agency also reported record all-time high revenues of $25 million.

MJ’s fiscal year runs from September to September and for fiscal 2013, MJ saw solid growth in both employee benefits and in property and casualty revenues. Even as the economy has struggled, MJ has recorded strong revenue gains over the past five years.

Michael H. Bill, CEO of MJ Insurance, attributes the growth and record revenue to continued investment through the economic downturn in both employees and value-added services for clients.

“Our approach is to align our efforts with clients that emphasize value and this has proven beneficial as the economy has improved,” said Bill. “Challenges brought forth with health care reform have also allowed us to help guide businesses through this historic change.”

MJ Insurance, with offices in Indiana and Arizona, is a property-casualty and employee benefits agency that, since 1964, has grown from a two-person start-up to an agency with more than 125 employees. In 2014, MJ will celebrate its 50th ‘golden’ anniversary.

MJ Insurance specializes in a diverse selection of unique service lines including construction, energy, transportation, real estate, manufacturing, sororities and mining. MJ also offers complete employee benefits programs including major medical, group disability, group life and onsite employer clinics. MJ Insurance currently has clients in 16 countries and in every U.S. state.

Manufacturing Companies

GPEC, ASU earn Department of Commerce Grant

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Arizona State University (ASU) this week were awarded a $170,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The initiative, called the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP) seeks to accelerate manufacturing sectors and job creation in cities across the country.

The funds will be used to develop a plan to implement an Innovation and Commercialization Center for Advanced Manufacturing (ICCAM) in Greater Phoenix that advances the region’s manufacturing sector and improves its competitiveness for domestic and foreign investments, advances research commercialization and prepares workers for advanced manufacturing jobs. The ICCAM will focus on new growth opportunities, like advanced sensor and control technologies, and applications that leverage historic regional strengths like aerospace, semiconductor, electronics, precision and control technologies.

“This grant is crucial to the ICCAM’s success as we seek to support and grow high-tech manufacturing technologies and their respective supply chains by providing access to applied research, product development and design services, as well as access to global markets,” GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said. “Creating a strategic plan to develop these technologies is important for retaining, upgrading and growing the region’s key industry clusters.”

“This award is further recognition of the significant opportunities for growth in the manufacturing sector in our region and our state” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Senior Vice President for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “ASU is committed to ensuring the continued expansion of manufacturing in Arizona and has implemented several programs and initiatives, with community partners and organizations such as GPEC, which will encourage startup and established manufacturing, ensure students become more involved in manufacturing and spur the overall growth of this sector as a driver of Arizona’s economy.”

Together, GPEC and ASU will assemble a project team to implement the project in two phases over a one-year period. Phase I will focus on finalizing the ICCAM’s technical parameters, refining its programs and services and developing performance metrics. Phase II will center on developing implementation strategies, identifying investment sources, building coalitions and finalizing a full implementation plan through the program’s launch.

Pending support from Congress, the ICCAM project will be eligible to compete for future large scale IMCP grants that are 50 to 100 times the size of the implementation strategy grants. This would allow the region to execute on its proposed strategy for advancing manufacturing in Phoenix and beyond.

deal

OnTrac bringing 850 jobs to Chandler

OnTrac, the leader in regional overnight package delivery service in the eight Western States, is moving its corporate headquarters to Chandler.

The new offices are located in the Price Corridor at 2501 S. Price Road. The new building provides the company with additional space and the opportunity for future growth. It will also allow OnTrac to grow its company culture and continue raising the bar for OnTrac’s standard of excellence. The company will occupy 65,000 square feet of space in the building.

“We’ve begun construction and will spend in excess of $5 million on the relocation of our corporate headquarters,” said Rob Humphrey, President of OnTrac. “And, we expect to bring more than 850 jobs to the City of Chandler over the term of the lease.”

“Chandler’s central location and quick access to the interstate and freeways make it an excellent choice for businesses that have a diverse workforce,” said Jay Tibshraeny, Mayor of Chandler. “We are seeing the benefits of that as businesses such as OnTrac and other notable companies choose to locate in the Price Corridor.”

OnTrac joins other employers in the Price Corridor in key industries of Aerospace, Life Sciences, High Technology R&D/Manufacturing and Advanced Business Services.

OnTrac is currently occupying space in Phoenix until improvements are completed.

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Stanton pitches Phoenix to Silicon Valley businesses

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants businesses in Silicon Valley to relocate to Arizona.

Stanton traveled to California this week to sell Phoenix as a prime location for technology and manufacturing jobs.

Stanton says Phoenix needs to proactively attract employers.

Stanton’s office would not say what companies he is approaching in California because the meetings are confidential.

Stanton has traveled to Silicon Valley in the past to persuade companies there to relocate or open new branches in Phoenix.

He also has made several recent trips to Mexico to promote international trade.

Stanton was elected mayor in 2011.

Solar Power

Suntech closing Goodyear factory

Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co. is closing its factory in Goodyear in part because of higher production costs.

The broader solar industry has struggled in recent years due to a steep price drop for solar panels. Global demand for panels has languished in Europe and elsewhere, even as manufacturing capacity soared.

Suntech’s solar panel manufacturing plant, which opened in October 2010, had 43 employees. The facility’s peak production was 50 megawatts per year in 2011. This was scaled back to 15 megawatts per year in November.

Suntech said Tuesday that the increased production costs were made worse by import tariffs on solar cells and aluminum frames imposed by the U.S. government and global solar module oversupply.

In November the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to impose unilateral tariffs of 35.97 percent on Suntech solar cells made in China. Suntech said these solar cells are a key component used at its Goodyear factory.

The company also said that the factory’s closing is in line with its restructuring efforts to rationalize production capacity and cut operating expenses by 20 percent this year.

U.S.-traded shares of Suntech fell 7 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $1.08 in midday trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of 71 cents to $3.68.

srp installs solar energy systems

Energy Consortium’s Roadmap puts state of path to build industry

Imagine Arizona as the energy hub of the Southwest — where major regional transmission lines tie into infrastructure in the state and serve a growing regional demand for energy. Arizona would be a place where an increasing percentage of jobs are related to the energy industry, whether in manufacturing, generation, transmission, energy efficiency, service or technology innovation. Many of these jobs would be higher-wage jobs requiring a skilled labor force fed by Arizona’s schools and universities. Arizona could be a hub of energy-sector jobs, with factories making equipment for the industry and power plants shipping electricity to neighboring states via new power lines, all contributing to a better economy.

That is the essence of the Arizona Energy Consortium’s Energy Roadmap, which the group hopes with be a catalyst for the state’s energy industry in the same way Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap helped the state increase bioscience jobs by 41 percent and helped increase the number of bioscience establishments by 27 percent during its 10-year plan.

“It was important to create this document to give the energy industry a unified voice and direction,” said said Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the AEC and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “The energy industry is going to be here forever. We are always going to need energy. So the Roadmap was designed to make the industry better for everyone — consumers, developers, legislators. So it was critical that we get it right.”

This is the vision the Roadmap hopes to realize over the next decade: Arizona is the energy hub of the Southwest, with a diverse energy mix supporting reliable transmission, a strong base of manufacturing facilities, increased numbers of higher wage jobs, and world-class research institutions, resulting in increased economic development for the state and region.

Once that vision is realized, De Blasi said the state can expect to reap these benefits:
• Enhanced job creation and higher-wage jobs within Arizona
• Increased state economic revenue
• Enhanced energy export potential
• Heightened energy self-sufficiency and national and state security
• Increased transmission reliability
• Continued low cost energy

“This Roadmap is going to help Arizona be looked at differently from outside its borders,” said Chris Davey, co-chair with De Blasi of the AEC and president of EnviroMission, which is developing a solar tower in Western Arizona. “The Roadmap will create a sense of certainty, which appeals to the finance community. So when they are looking to invest, that certainty creates a more attractive environment for developers and investors.”

Davey and De Blasi said they will be rolling out the Roadmap this year, presenting it to groups throughout the state. For more information on the Roadmap, visit aztechcouncil.org.

ROADMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Arizona Commerce Authority
Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy
Arizona Public Service
Bridge Strategy Group
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
City of Mesa, the Office of the Mayor
Cleantech Open
Dircks
DIRTT
DMB Associates
Energy Services Coalition
EnviroMission
Faithful+Gould
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Greenberg Traurig
The Green Chamber – Greater Phoenix
Golder Associates
Hensel Phelps
Ikoloji
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
J.D. Porter & Associates
Kolbe Connect
Matthew McDonnell
Ormond Group, LLC
RG Schmelzer, Inc.
Salt River Project
Stream Energy
Tucson Electric Power
Valley Forward
Valley Partnership

manufacturing - Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2012

Computer & Aerospace Manufacturing – Arizona Builds Its Financial Future

Computer and aerospace manufacturing plays a significant role in Arizona’s financial future.

The economic storm that has wreaked havoc for most businesses was barely a breeze for Michael McPhie.

“We were really not affected negatively,” says the CEO of Curis Resources, a mineral exploration and development company in Florence. “The economic downturn really did not affect the demand for some commodities, so copper mining continues to be a significant economic engine for the state.”

With 10 percent of the world’s copper supply coming from Arizona, a combination of continued high demand from China and innovative and cost-effective methods of extraction allowed the copper industry — one of Arizona’s oldest professions — to weather the economic storm with little damage.

While Arizona’s Top 10 manufacturing companies added about 3,200 jobs in 2011, some of the state’s other manufacturing companies were not so lucky.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, especially for our smaller manufacturers, who make up 79 percent of Arizona’s manufacturing sector and employ four or fewer people,” says Mark Dobbins, senior vice president and secretary for SUMCO Phoenix Corporation, which manufactures silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. “Although companies of all sizes were affected by the recession, they were probably hit the hardest.”

While the state’s manufacturing sector is holding steady, the uncertainty coming out of Washington and in the financial markets has not helped its economic recovery, according to Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The federal health care law, EPA regulations and a National Labor Relations Board that has taken positions hostile to manufacturing has likely done more to slow recovery than spur it on,” Hamer says. “The governor and the Legislature, however, have responded decisively, passing in 2011 a once-in-a-generation economic competitiveness package that makes Arizona more attractive than ever to manufacturers.”

The Arizona Competitiveness Package includes a mix of tax reforms and business incentives designed to encourage expansion among existing Arizona companies, while establishing Arizona as an attractive location for businesses worldwide.

“Arizona manufacturers have underperformed in the export arena as compared to other states in the last several years,” Hamer says. “Economic competitiveness legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last year goes far in attracting manufacturers, especially those who sell beyond Arizona borders.”

While the landmark 2011 legislation was a shot in the arm for manufacturing and business, the Arizona Manufacturers Council — which serves the state in conjunction with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry — has identified several legislative issues that are important to manufacturing in 2012, Hamer says. The Arizona Manufacturers Council is striving to:

  1. Streamline regulations and the issuance of permits.
  2. Eliminate barriers to economic development created by inadequate infrastructure for capital intensive manufacturing operations.
  3. Promote a friendlier legal environment through tort reform.
  4. Support policies that will strengthen the solvency of Arizona’s unemployment insurance system.

“We need a clearly defined economic goal and strong collaborative leadership for the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years for the state,” says Dobbins, who is also immediate past chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council. “We need a clear education pathway to support Arizonans’ having the job skills to meet the challenges of that goal. We have the infrastructure to become a major player in all of our primary industry sectors. Now we have to create the political will to set the state’s objective to become the international commercial and business hub of the Southwest.”

To get there, Dobbins says, “We need to rid ourselves of outdated policies that discourage businesses from relocating here and be aggressive at pursuing growth. We must invest in education and fund our schools and universities properly so they produce graduates who are vocationally skilled and/or STEM-skilled and job-ready.”

Even in the copper mining industry is transitioning into a knowledge-based workforce, McPhie says.

“We are working with local colleges so we can attract and educate the best and the brightest engineers, hydrologists and geologists,” McPhie says. “There are tremendous opportunities to make significant wages in the copper mining industry, particularly because there will be a significant numbers of retirees due to our industry’s aging workforce.”

It’s not just the mining industry that is looking for a new generation of workers. “We’ve also seen manufacturing (hiring) pick up substantially in the last month,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president for Robert Half International, a staffing services firm.

While Dobbins says the computer and electronic product manufacturing is generally considered among the state’s strongest manufacturing areas, the production of transportation equipment — which includes the aerospace and defense industries — could be the most captivating, yet challenging, sector to watch in the next several years.

Boeing Phantom Eye

Photo courtesy Boeing

“The advent of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the defense sphere is extremely exciting for Arizona manufacturing,” Hamer says. “The AMC is working with the Arizona Aerospace and Defense Commission and other stakeholders to secure Arizona’s position as a leading location for research and development, manufacturing, and testing of UAS, and we are supporting Arizona’s proposal to be designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a national UAS testing area.”

Arizona’s largest aerospace and defense companies are investing in the future of UAS, which the military uses to track enemy movements, bomb targets and move supplies without putting soldiers in harm’s way. Boeing moved its unmanned division to Mesa, where it can manufacture the A160T Hummingbird, the company’s flagship unmanned aircraft, once every 12 days. Raytheon in Tucson is working on several UAS innovations, including an operating system that would make it easier to install various brands of sensors and communicate among multiple unmanned aircraft.

But aerospace and defense isn’t the only area expected to create new jobs.

“In addition to the potential growth of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Arizona, Intel’s $5 billion investment in a new factory in Chandler will require 1,000 workers and is creating 14,000 jobs in the construction sector in anticipation of the facility’s completion in 2013,” Hamer says. “The investment has a tremendous downstream effect on other companies.”
Renewable energy is another potential hotbed for growth.

“If it is able to overcome certain global market challenges, certainly the solar industry has big growth potential for the future of our state,” Dobbins says. “Also, as long as we, as a society, continue to be in love with personal electronics — computers, laptops, cell phones — and our cars, manufacturing in Arizona will continue to grow.”

To help that growth, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is focused on two initiatives:

  1. Southwest<>Direct, which aims to make Arizona the international commercial and business hub of the Southwestern U.S.
  2. A collaboration between the education community and business to secure highly trained, vocational skills-certified and STEM-certified employees for today and tomorrow’s increasingly technical workplace.

“The Chamber and the AMC are (also) working together to promote a tax environment that attracts manufacturing, including reforms to the state’s treatment of income derived from capital gains, and lengthening the time businesses can carry losses forward against future profits as way of encouraging more startups and businesses that require large capital investments,” Hamer says.

Despite the increase in job creation and slight decrease in economic despair, the state’s manufacturing sector still faces some challenges.

“With looming federal budget cuts, Arizona’s defense and aerospace manufacturers stand to face some big changes,” Hamer says. “It is incumbent upon our leaders to continue to position our state as a leader in this field by aggressively pursuing Unmanned Aerial Systems flight testing, research and manufacturing in Arizona.”

Hamer says that it will be imperative for lawmakers and business leaders to have a unified vision for the future of manufacturing in Arizona.

“Arizona needs to be mindful of the growing creep of regulations and red tape that stifles business’ ability to focus on innovation and investment,” Hamer says. “Gov. Jan Brewer recognized this when her first act as governor was to institute a regulatory moratorium; the Legislature soon followed the governor’s action with a sweeping regulatory reform package of its own. Increased transparency in the regulatory sphere at all levels of government will help attract (new) manufacturing to Arizona.”

ARIZONA AEROSPACE

Here are four of the major players in Arizona’s defense and aerospace industry:

Boeing: The company’s 4,878-employee Defense, Space & Security facility in Mesa is best known for producing the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter for the U.S. Army. Additional work at the Mesa facility includes production of electrical subassemblies for the F/A-18, F-15, and C-17 aircraft.

General Dynamics: With more than 5,400 employees at its Scottsdale headquarters, General Dynamics C4 Systems specializes in command and control, communications networking, computing and information assurance for defense, government and select commercial customers in the U.S. and abroad.

Honeywell International: With more than 10,000 employees at 21 Arizona facilities, Honeywell International contracts with the Department of Defense through both their Aerospace and their Automation and Control Solutions business units. In particular, Honeywell Aerospace is headquartered in Phoenix, with major facilities in Tempe, Glendale, and Tucson.

Raytheon Missile Systems: Headquartered in Tucson with 12,000 Arizona employees, Raytheon Missile Systems designs, develops, and produces weapon systems for the U.S. military and the armed forces of more than 50 countries.

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2012