The finalists for Industrial/Equipment Manufacturer of the Year at the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards are all about soothing two big pain points in modern manufacturing: labor and supply chain. These three companies are supplying high-quality, U.S.-made components and automation to other manufacturers near and far.

Right Stuff Equipment (Denver)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

Right Stuff Equipment has been on the front end of automating two of Colorado’s signature industries: natural foods and cannabis.

The COVID-19 pandemic fueled packaging automation as on-premise sales of foods and beverages plummeted. Consolidation in the cannabis industry has also catalyzed investment in automation.

“Manufacturers had problems getting labor during the COVID period,” says President Kevin Weber. “They’re having more problems getting labor to return. They’re having to pay higher rates to have the same labor do the same job, they’re having high turnover, so many of them are looking for additional steps where automation makes sense.”

Right Stuff Equipment’s sales soared by 100 percent in 2021 after a 30 percent decline in 2020. “The robotic business that we’re doing has really blown up,” says Weber. “Most of that is pick-and-place type of work.”

The 30-employee company is increasingly selling its own machines to a wide range of consumer-oriented customers as it continues to integrate end-to-end automation solutions for its customers. “Our goal is to continue to move up the value chain,” says Weber. “That involves the IP of doing more highly integrated lines, building more of our own systems, and employing more robots.”

CompanyWeek profile (May 2019):

Snaptron (Windsor)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

Snaptron manufactures more than 100 million tactile domes annually. The products are used as switches in the consumer electronics, automotive, military, medical, and aerospace industries.

“We’re so diversified,” says GM Walter Goodrich. “We’ve just got so much stuff going on in different industries — that’s a good business problem to have.”

The new RCG Series has taken off in a big way in the medical market. “We formed a feature in it that allows for multi-functionality,” says Goodrich. “One of the big things now is multi-contacts, independent contacts with one push.”

Some medical device manufacturers that are using RCG domes for in-home testing products order more than a million domes — which are about a quarter-inch in diameter — at a time. “We’re sending pallets,” says Goodrich. “That’s how many products we’re shipping out.”

Revenue increased by about 20 percent as the company underwent a complete rebrand in 2021. Goodrich expects a similar growth number in 2022 as the 100-employee company moves towards the midyear unveiling of a “top secret” new product.

CompanyWeek profile (June 2017):

Wire Experts Group / Rubadue Wire (Loveland)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

A longtime leader in high-grade litz wire, the company saw revenue increase by 20 percent in 2021 as it boosted manufacturing capacity by 60 percent.

Rubadue, also nominated for Energy/Transportation Manufacturer of the Year at the 2022 CMAs, also upped its head count in Colorado by 35 to 110 employees in the last year. Its sister company under the Wire Experts Group umbrella, Florida-based Pelican Wire, has about 80 employees.

“With our capital expansion, we’ve put a heavy focus on automation and better control of our processes,” says Rubadue President Sean Toland. “That has saved a lot of copper from recycling and a lot of copper from going to the landfill,” he adds. “With our improvements in our technology and processes, we’ve saved about 12,000 pounds of plastic from going to the landfill and we have prevented about 60,000 pounds of copper from needing to be recycled.”

CompanyWeek profile (March 2021):

The winners of the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed on April 7 in Denver. The event is open to all Colorado business enthusiasts and stakeholders. REGISTER HERE for the 2022 CMA Winners Reveal & Gala.