Snap - May/June 2012 - (Page 46)
made in the usa: great lakes states
Great Lakes Makes
A closer look at domestically made building products from Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. by julie taraska
it may sit square within the Rust Belt, but the northern Midwest is still a manufacturing engine, particularly as it cultivates new industrial sectors to replace the old. The auto business has returned from the brink, and Michigan remains its capital, with 24% of carmakers and suppliers located within its borders. However, the state has continued to diversify its base since the heydays of the ’60s and ’70s; efforts include stepping up its production of machinery and fabricated metal goods and applying its high-tech know-how to alternative-energy fields. Case goods remain a linchpin in the Wolverine state, with international powerhouses Herman Miller, Haworth, and Steelcase all calling it home. While Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, food products and processing is the state’s third-largest manufacturing export, topped by machinery (engines, turbines) and transportation goods (motor vehicles and Harley-Davidsons). Add to the mix Wisconsin’s mighty paper and packaging industry — mills run on a stretch from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay — and biotech- and medical-device production, a recent, and red-hot, sector. And don’t forget Kohler, the nearly 140-year-old plumbing concern that not only has a town named after it but also makes furniture, tiles, and generators. Over in Minnesota, wheat and mining once reigned. Now, computer and electronic products head the list of the state’s manufactured goods, with food processing, fabricated metal products, and machinery not far behind. Forestry remains strong, as does glass production, with both Marvin and SAGE crafting energy-efficient windows and doors. St. Paul–based 3M (short for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.) exemplifies the Gopher state’s current economic direction. Once a stone processor, the multinational now derives much of its income from adhesives and abrasives, medical goods, and optical films.
46 | snap | may/june 2012 | sweets.com
Great Lakes States Minnesota, Michigan Wisconsin
manufacturer: Guardian Industries location: Auburn Hills, Michigan products: Originally called Guardian Glass, this manufacturer of solar, residential, architectural, electronics, and interiors glass now also makes automotive goods, as well as fiberglass insulation and wrap-building products. founded: 1932 employees: 18,000 price range: $–$$$ guardian.com
manufacturer: Radius Track location: Minneapolis products: Chuck Mears’s experience as a retail contractor inspired this line of custom curved-steel framing goods, which also includes tools that allow contractors to shape geometric curves onsite. founded: 1996 employees: 20 price range: $$ radiustrack.com
manufacturer: Landscape Forms location: Kalamazoo, Michigan products: Contemporary commercial outdoor furniture, including transit stops, seating, lighting, bike racks, planters, and waste receptacles, is the specialty of this concern started by a landscape architect. founded: 1969 employees: 265 price range: $ landscapeforms.com
photo credit: courtesy pewabic pottery (bottom right)
manufacturer: Pewabic Pottery location: Detroit products: Handmade ceramic tiles, vases, and pottery comprise the offerings of this nonprofit educational institute created by ceramic artists Mary Chase Perry and Horace Caulkins. founded: 1903 employees: 40 price range: $$–$$$ pewabic.org
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