Individuals and companies that stand out as shining role models in the manufacturing sector were recognized for their accomplishments at the 2020 Arizona Manufacturing Summit and awards ceremony Friday. The event was hosted by the Arizona Manufacturers Council (AMC) and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Seven awards were given to manufacturing champions in innovation, excellence, sustainability, and leadership. Featured speakers also talked about the successes over the past year and challenges ahead including racial inequity from the classroom to the boardroom.
This year’s event was not only about recognizing the billions of dollars in revenues manufacturers brought to the state but their efforts during the pandemic, said Mark Gaspers, AMC chairman.
“We want to celebrate their innovation amidst our current challenges and their contributions to the state,” Gaspers said.
High-paying manufacturing jobs on the rise
Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber, said the manufacturing industry has been a major contributor to Arizona’s economic success over the past year. Today, the industry employs about 177,000 workers statewide and pumps about $30 billion annually into the economy.
“We are at a point of time now, because of the good work of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, Governor Doug Ducey, and our friends at the state Legislature, where we have more manufacturing jobs in Arizona than construction jobs,” Hamer said.
2020 Award winners
Seven companies and three individuals received awards this year:
• Large Manufacturer of the Year: Raytheon Technologies
Raytheon is Southern Arizona’s largest employer, serving customers in the commercial aerospace and defense industries. Founded in 1922, the company has become one of the largest aerospace and defense manufacturers in the world. Over the years, it has won numerous awards for its innovative technology solutions and world-class engineering teams.
• Medium Manufacturer of the Year: Mercury Systems
Mercury Systems has earned a reputation as the leader in making trusted, secure mission-critical technologies more accessible to the aerospace and defense industries. The company’s innovative solutions power more than 300 critical aerospace and defense programs. Mercury established a $1 million relief fund for employees impacted by the pandemic.
• Small Manufacturer of the Year: Service Wire Co.
Service Wire Co. is a second-generation, family-owned wire and cable manufacturer started in 1968. Today, its nationwide network of distributors and advanced distribution capabilities enable them to meet and exceed the often complex needs of industrial, commercial, utility, pump, irrigation, and transit customers throughout North America and the world.
• Legislator of the Year: State Representative Ben Toma
Representative Toma, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, received the award for his “consistent and firm commitment to wise tax and regulatory policy to spur innovation and job creation.” In 2020, Rep. Toma led passage of House Bill 2771, which revised and extended tax credits including a tax credit to incentivize businesses to relocate or expand manufacturing facilities in Arizona, including manufacturing related research and development.
• Advocates of the Year: Michael Denby and Eric Massey of Arizona Public Service
Denby, corporate environmental senior policy advisor for APS, and Massey, APS’ director for Environment and Water Resource Management, worked to advance policies in the water, energy, air quality, natural resources, and environmental spaces that encourage job growth and innovation while ensuring that the business community is part of the solution to promote wise environmental stewardship.
• Excellence in Sustainability: Swire Coca-Cola
With revenues of $2 billion, Swire Coca-Cola produces, sells and distributes Coca-Cola and other beverages in 13 states across the American West. This year, Swire launched its Sustainable Development 2030 goals to increase recycled content in its packaging, decrease the amount of water it uses, and reduce its carbon emissions by converting to renewable energy. In response to Covid-19, Swire donated over 66,000 liters of water to the Navajo Nation.
• Excellence in Innovation: VB Cosmetics
VB Cosmetics conducts research and development, custom formulation, and private labeling and sale of cosmetics and personal care products including a transformational technology called Dazzle Dry, a quick-dry nail polish system. During COVID-19, the company has manufactured Personal Protective Equipment around the state for the Salvation Army.
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Dawn Grove
Grove was recognized for her tireless work on behalf of manufacturers, Arizona workers and the broader community. She is corporate counsel for Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, the parent company of PING. Grove is chair of the Workforce Arizona Council and serves on the boards of the Arizona Commerce Authority, National Association of Manufacturers and Karsten.
Two leading national figures spoke at the event
Two national figures also spoke at the event.
Keynote speaker was Rick Wade, senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wade discussed an intensive nationwide effort to improve racial equity in business and industry from the production floor to the board room.
Wade called on industry to continue to come together to reduce gaps in equity.
“We have made tremendous progress but we have a lot of work to do with regards to equality and opportunity,” he said.
Wade, who grew up in rural South Carolina in the 1960s when many schools were still segregated, said he was able to overcome racial barriers. But Black citizens continue to be left behind today, he said. They are more likely to be unemployed, incarcerated and poor.
Improving diversity and inclusion in business is more than a “moral imperative,” it’s also an economic one, he said. Research shows diversity increases company profits, and that if gaps in racial inequity were eliminated, the nation’s GDP would gain about $8 trillion, Wade said.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia also delivered remarks at the event, discussing the country’s healthy economy prior to the pandemic under the Trump administration. Wages were increasing for the middle class and the poverty rate had dropped to an all-time low. In turn, Arizona and the country’s economy and jobs have shown positive signs of recovery over the past few months as Americans adjust to life with masks, sanitizing and social distancing.
Scalia also recognized Arizona leaders including Gov. Ducey for promoting a lower tax, pro-business and pro-growth environment with accomplishments like the nation’s first bill allowing regulated industries to recognize occupational licenses earned in other states.
The bill, HB 2569, which was adopted in 2019, allows a person who has held an occupational license for at least one year in good standing to practice their profession in Arizona under certain stipulations, even if the license was earned in a state other than Arizona.
This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.