Manufacturing | Connecticut Public Radio
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Manufacturing

Made in Connecticut, is an ongoing reporting series which examines Connecticut’s manufacturing future, from high-tech to handmade.

Manufacturing Mania!

Oct 8, 2012
Harriet Jones

Manufacturing might be a tiny part of the economy these days but the state of Connecticut is making the case that it’s vital to the future. This has been declared Manufacturing Month, and today hundreds of school kids descended on a new show in Hartford designed to showcase the industry.

Welcome to Manufacturing Mania, the kick off for Connecticut’s month long celebration of the industry that’s defined its past, but struggles these days to stay in the public eye.

Matthew Bevin returned to his family's historic bell making business in 2008. It was running at a loss, and Matt's uncle was about to sell the last bell factory in East Hampton.  Bevin, who is a serial entrepreneur in his own right, turned the business around within a year. In 2010 and 2011, Bevin Brothers, a 180 year old five-generation family business, turned a profit. 

Harriet Jones

Connecticut and the U.S. may appear to be in a recovery that’s lost its way, especially given recent disappointing jobs numbers. But the message from economists at a Rocky Hill conference seemed to echo President Obama – hang on and it’s going to get better. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

“Keeping it in the family” takes on a whole new meaning when that family runs a business. In the first of a two part series, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visits two very different family businesses here in Connecticut.

In an ordinary looking house in an unremarkable street in Bridgeport, an extraordinary enterprise is being carried on.

“I’m Beverlee Dacey and I am second generation of the family business….”

Harriet Jones

Three new training centers opened this fall at Connecticut’s community colleges, aimed at turning out hundreds of workers ready to take jobs in advanced manufacturing. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

These students at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport are learning the theory behind computer numerical control, or CNC machining. Christopher Heun says he chose this manufacturing certificate course because he enjoys working with his hands.

Connecticut’s Governor has staked a lot on reforming the state’s educational system. And a large part of the motivation is to provide a workforce literate in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM skills. But the pace of technological change is getting quicker every year, and figuring out how to train workers for the high value industries of the 21st century is ever more challenging. This week on the business report we begin a series of reports on three industries vital to Connecticut’s future, and ask whether the state is living up to its reputation for a superior workforce.

Diane Orson

Governor Malloy announced on Wednesday that a newly formed company - Sustainable Building Systems, Inc. - will establish its global headquarters in Connecticut with financial help from the state. The startup is expected to employ more than 400 people within four years.

The joint venture between Arizona-based Diverse Services Group and The Weeks Group of Australia will be headquartered in North Haven. 

Bevin Bells On The Road To Recovery

Jul 17, 2012
Tucker Ives

It's been six weeks since the Bevin Brothers factory burned to the ground and the East Hampton company is moving forward with plans to rebuild. 

A Tinkerer's Paradise

May 18, 2012
Uma Ramiah

There's a new clubhouse in New Haven, and it's meant for geeks. It's called MakeHaven. It offers space and equipment for people looking to build gadgets of all kinds, and imagination is the only limitation.

Harriet Jones

More than four thousand manufacturing professionals are expected to visit Hartford this week for a trade show billed as Manufacturing For the Future. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This conference focuses on technological advances in four main industries, aerospace, defense, medical and energy. For Connecticut exhibitors like Thayer Brown of Modern Metal Finishing in Oxford, it’s a chance to meet potential customers from further afield.

Harriet Jones

It’s spring, and lots of us are busy in the garden, making things grow. Some experts on business development think it’s also time Connecticut’s towns and cities began gardening – economic gardening, that is. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Economic development, like any other field is prone to fashions. One minute it’s tax incentives, another it’s industry clusters or enterprise zones. But one city in Colorado came up with an idea more than 20 years ago that’s been slowly spreading ever since. Economic gardening.

The end of January is gut-check time for anyone who’s made New Year’s resolutions. Many experts say top of the resolution list for small businesses should be a disaster recovery plan. After all, the incredible list of weather emergencies in Connecticut last year drove many businesses to the brink. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut Senate Democrats say they want to tweak the jobs bill that passed in last fall’s special session, in order to make it more effective for businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Senate leaders chose the shopfloor of a successful Connecticut manufacturing business to make this announcement, Adchem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester. Senate President Don Williams.

Courtesy: Eugene Montano

2011 was a challenging year if you were running a small business. WNPR’s Harriet Jones has been speaking with small business owners in Connecticut about the year just past, and looking ahead into 2012.

2011 was supposed to be the year the economic recovery really picked up steam. For small business owners, it depends where you were standing.

“It’s been the toughest year, definitely been the toughest year.”

Harriet Jones

December’s a pretty intense month for many people – but imagine if you were a Christmas tree farmer.  As this busy season comes to a close, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited Staehly’s Tree Farm in East Haddam to find out what kind of a year this has been for the state’s tree growers.

“Hi there… how are you….”

Business organizations in the state have given a qualified welcome to the jobs legislation that passed the General Assembly this week. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it’s been dubbed a “good first step.”

Connecticut Firm Brings Work Back From China

Oct 18, 2011
Sarah Miner

The Senate has approved a measure that would allow Washington to raise tariffs on goods arriving from China.  It’s aimed at addressing what many US manufacturers say is an unfair advantage that China gains by keeping its currency pegged artificially low.  The lure of cheap manufacturing in China has been eroding US jobs for decades. 

WNPR’s Sarah Miner tells the story of the obstacles faced by one small Connecticut business trying to reverse the trend.

 

Last year U.S. companies spent more than $26 billion advertising on the Internet. They’re on track to surpass that record number in 2011. In the latest in our occasional series, WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at the small Connecticut companies who are benefiting from that trend.

Times might be hard in many industries right now, but at the offices of WebSolutions in Meriden, you’d never know it.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut hopes to grow a significant cluster of high-tech companies in fields such as fuel cells, advanced manufacturing and medical devices. But one of the stumbling blocks can be finding cash to develop new and unproven ideas. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at efforts to fill the funding gap for emerging technologies.

Jolinda Lambert is the CEO of a company called Innovatient Solutions that’s just about 18 months old.

Harriet Jones

A lot of effort in recent years has been focused on reducing US dependence on foreign oil. Not so much thought is given to making that oil last longer. One small North Stonington company sends technology around the world that does just that. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Chion Wolf

Harriet Jones

Governor Malloy has declared the state of Connecticut open for business. But many small businesses find when they come in contact with state government, their first experience is frustration. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at just how well the state is doing in streamlining its approach to business.

This is Larry’s Auto Power in Groton, and that’s a race car engine on the test block.

“We do street performance engine rebuilding, racecar engine building.”

On the Road: PEZ!

Apr 5, 2011
Chion Wolf

Don't miss Chion Wolf's amazing photography from our trip to PEZ. No, seriously. Don't miss it. You'll be sorry.

PEZ was first marketed as a compressed peppermint candy over 83 years ago in Vienna, Austria. The name PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint... PfeffErminZ. Today, over 3 billion PEZ Candies are consumed annually in the U.S.A. alone.

In 1970, a former Pratt and Whitney employee, Henry A. Backman, started the aerospace engineering and manufacturing company HABCO in Glastonbury with only 5 employees.

40 years later, his daughter, Kristen Muschett, owner and CEO of the company, employs 32 people, and oversees a growing portfolio of innovative products. WNPR's Sarah Miner reports.

(Machines working on the shop floor)

One of the biggest financial concerns most small businesses face is providing health care. This week, WNPR’s Small Business Project is taking a two-part look at the health care crisis facing small employers. In the first of her reports, Harriet Jones talks to the businesses that are feeling the pinch.

Adchem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester is a very successful Connecticut small business, employing 35 people.

Aplicare

Getting into the international market can be both exciting and challenging for a business. It offers the chance for new customers and growth, but it’s also a steep learning curve. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited one Meriden firm that’s sending Connecticut-made medical products all around the world, and bringing work back from overseas.

“So this is our production floor. We have 21 production lines, that are operating on two shifts….”

Harriet Jones

Manufacturing used to be a mainstay of employment in Connecticut. Competition from lower-cost states and overseas production has decimated the industry. But small manufacturers persist in the state and are finding ways to survive. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited one shop in Milford for our latest small business profile.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut has around 5,000 manufacturing companies. You may be picturing Pratt & Whitney or Electric Boat, but of course the vast majority of manufacturers are small businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at the challenges facing those firms in a shrinking industry.

It’s a typically busy day on the shop floor at Prestige Manufacturing in Milford. Ken Dugan has run this business for 27 years.

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