Seattle Business magazine honored 18 pioneering companies and individuals at the tenth annual Washington Manufacturing Awards gala Tuesday night at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Renton. The event attracted business leaders from across the state. “The honorees are companies with outstanding products and innovative processes,” said Leslie Helm, editor of Seattle Business magazine. “They boost their competitiveness through improved manufacturing and effective marketing — and they remind us of the strength and promise of Washington’s manufacturing sector.”

Find the 2019 award winners here:

ABOUT SEATTLE BUSINESS: Seattle Business is an award-winning monthly magazine read by thousands of business executives across the state. It delivers insight into the key people, enterprises and trends that drive business in the Pacific Northwest, providing perspective on the region’s ever-changing economic environment.

Bernston Porter & Co. PLLC., has published their third edition of the BP Pulse, including their 2019 manufacturing distribution survey. David Holbert, Executive Director of the NorthwestTAAC was quoted in the International Landscape section:

“Import competition can arrive suddenly and many companies don’t see it coming,” warns David Holbert of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC). “The span of industries and products that are affected is surprising – import impact is not confined to predictable sectors. When faced with a sudden challenge, for example a 50% price disadvantage, the companies that tend to succeed recognize that something must change in their business. They can’t win by just trying harder. Often this change entails moving toward customization, more responsive service, verifiable quality, or rapid delivery – all areas in which domestic companies have natural advantages.

Such changes are often introduced or facilitated by outside expertise in myriad areas. To demonstrate – between 2005 and 2017 NWTAAC tracked 200 companies averaging $15M in sales. They all had had declines in sales and employment – often steep. They all fought back in the manner described above. Aggregate results for those companies showing an 8.9% per annum sales increase for the several years following the introduction of a plan for change focused on outside expertise. This is a strong endorsement of the idea that with better knowledge, targeting, and tools, domestic companies can overcome the significant challenges of import competition.”

Idaho Export Excellence is recruiting for Fall 2017

The Idaho District Export Council (IDEC) is currently looking for six companies to participate in Export Excellence in fall 2017.

If you are an exporter who would like to develop a proactive process for accelerating your most profitable exports, the Idaho District Export Council (DEC) will recruit six companies to participate in Export Excellence 2017.

This program will pair your company with a Boise State University International Business student and a coach from IDEC. Over the course of three months, your team will create an Export Action Plan to help accelerate profitable export growth for your company. These plans will then be presented to the IDEC, who will give further advice on implementation.

Meeting dates for the program are:
September 7 & 21
October 19
November 16

If you are interested in applying, click here or contact Jennifer Verdon at (208) 287-3165.

The Export Voucher program, supported by a State Trade Expansion Program grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, starts its fifth year next month helping small businesses launch or expand their export activities. STEP Grants are available through your State Department of Commerce though more information can be found at
SBA STEP grants.


The following types of programs and expenses are eligible for an Export Voucher:


  • Trade show and trade mission fees, registration, etc.
  • Travel, airfare (U.S. carrier only)
  • Interpreter fees
  • Translation services (website, marketing materials, etc.)
  • Export training programs and services of the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service
  • International Certifications



Grant funds open to companies that have lost domestic profit
By April Ehrlich — Independent-Enterprise Oct 7, 2015

Payette County companies who have lost business to foreign competitors might be able to get some extra money to make up the loss.

Eligible companies can receive up to $75,000 in matching grant funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to pay for improvement projects of their choice. The companies must show the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center that they have been impacted by low-priced import competition.

“Basically, if you’re a manufacturing or agricultural producer or fishery or service firm, if you could show that you have lost business because of imports, you qualify for funding assistance through this program,” Patrick Meuleman, the center’s director of marketing, said.

The funds apply to all types of businesses, though it’s typically easier to prove a manufacturer’s eligibility for the program, Meuleman said. For this reason, most of the program’s clients are manufacturing companies.

“Generally speaking, it’s a lot easier to help a manufacturing company because we can tie a specific product to the activity,” he said. “If you’re a software company and you’re like, ‘This customer decided to use me and went overseas,’ that’s harder to quantify.”

Meuleman’s job is to help a company determine its eligibility. He assesses the company’s situation, and walks through all the steps of the program. He finds out how the company plans to use the funds, since they need to go to a specific improvement project as opposed to everyday financing.

This is not a competitive grant, Meuleman said. That means it does not apply to a certain number of companies. All eligible and interested companies will participate.

“It’s a program where if you’re eligible, you’re in,” he said.

Meuleman has worked with several Payette County businesses in the last few years. One is based in Fruitland and just recently received its final payment. That company chose not to disclose its name publicly.

Although the program has helped mostly manufacturers in the past, Snake River Economic Development executive director Kit Kamo said anyone who is interested might as well call the center.

“The manufacturing term they use very loosely,” she said. “If I were to say anything to employers in the Payette County area, it would be to go ahead and check into it to see if their company might qualify.”

June 2014
Eye on Business
The Montana Chamber of Commerce

There is a lot of talk around Washington D.C. these days about reviving U.S. manufacturing; assisting “Made in America” enterprises, specifically small manufacturers. These companies, especially, have taken the brunt of free trade agreements and the recession; owners trying to do more with less, often shortstaffed, lacking capital, with little influence or resources to affect trade policies or easily access additional funds for growing their businesses. Just ask Della Ehlke, co-owner and CEO of two companies: Felco, LLC, in Missoula, which manufactures excavator attachments and backfill equipment, and Montana Hydraulics,
LLC, a machining shop in Helena, offering CNC machining, fabrication, and custom manufacturing.

Della decided to take action when import competition and the recession contributed to substantially lower sales and she had to, reluctantly, start layoffs. She initiated business changes, but also sought the assistance of a small, often overlooked program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, that provides small to medium sized manufacturers with grant funding and technical assistance, a program which would partner with her in developing and implementing a strategy for recovering market share lost to foreign competition, expand visibility and increase sales, domestically and internationally.

The program, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms, (TAAF), administered by the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, (NWTAAC) for Montana (, is funding up to $75,000 for improvement projects on a costshared basis with Della’s companies, providing project management from start to finish. The program is a three step process; eligibility, recovery strategy development, project implementation.

Normally, talk of a government run grant program sounds an alarm for most business owners; all that paperwork and time for little return. “Not true” says Della, “Though there is paperwork, the team at NWTAAC made it as easy as possible; they did all of the eligibility work for me, offered valuable input as we put together our project strategy and their oversight of implementation was unobtrusive. The project billing was fairly simple, our vendors didn’t have any trouble with the process and payments were always timely.”

Since initiating implementation of the recovery strategy in June of 2012, completed projects are already returning solid results. TAA funding was used to have Double Spurs Creative LLC, a Bozeman company, redesign 3 websites; enhance dealer features, set up social media, and implement search engine optimization. Della states that sales for Round Wood Systems, a division of Montana Hydraulics, LLC, which manufactures wood milling machines, were up a record 200% in 2013 and Felco product sales doubled in 2014. According to Della,” The remake of the websites has greatly increased our visibility and has definitely driven a tremendous amount of traffic our way.”

TAA funding was used to hire Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, (MMEC) consultants to prepare both companies for an ISO audit and subsequent certification. Felco and Montana Hydraulics then used funding to hire Pennsylvania-based SRI Quality Systems Registrar to perform registration audits for ISO 9001:2008, which, as of April 2014, have been successfully completed. Della is excited about the prospects for marketing and export expansion because of the ISO certification.

“I would highly recommend other companies consider applying for project funding through the TAAF program, says Della, ” NWTAAC’s oversight and guidance was very helpful, and as a result, we have made significant improvements to our companies’ marketability that we may not have done without their help.”

Reprinted with permission

February 24, 2011
Wall Street Journal
Letter to the Editor: William Perry

Regarding your editorial “Free Trade Foul-Ups” (Feb. 9) and the statement that “TAA is turning into one more open-ended entitlement”: There needs to be a clarification.  I am on the board of directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  We provide trade adjustment assistance to companies that have been injured by imports.

Because trade adjustment assistance works at the micro level helping the company to develop a strategic plan to adjust to import competition, we have been able to save 80% of the companies that have entered the program since 1984.  The cost to the U.S. taxpayer has been only $16 million.

Saving the company means saving the jobs that go with that company.  That is real bang for the buck.

The U.S. government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to retrain workers, but only $16 million to help companies adjust to import competition.  Maybe that is one of the reasons for the job problems in the U.S.

William Perry

Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center


Reprinted with permission

February 16, 2011
Idaho Business Review
By Brad Carlson

The demand that Fresh Air Manufacturing Co. (FAMCO) owner Marty Artis sees for his new ventures isn’t much better than the recession-battered appetite for his core wholesale business, but he’s pleased anyway.

“It’s new revenue to me,” he said.  “We have the same number of remodels and housing starts.  I’m just closer to more new buyers.”

Overseas competition is making some Idaho businesses re-think operations.  Approaches include finding markets with less global exposure, setting up manufacturing in Idaho to compete on quality, or getting a matching grant to help develop new markets and products as Artis did.

FAMCO manufactures HVAC and roofing products in Meridian.  Artis in late 2008 started a wholesale roofing accessory line to diversify, and at the end of last year launched a retail segment – mainly by revamping his Web site.  He used the first $15,000 of a $75,000 matching grant qualifying through the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center for the retail Web project, by documenting how foreign competition undercut him.

“I’m constantly solicited from Asia [companies] to manufacture my metal and plastic vents,” he said.  “I don’t want to do that.  I want to innovate and make products here.”

Advanced Precision Machining Inc., Meridian, exited the semiconductor industry seven years ago and pursued segments that were less global.  Sales specialist Jeff Brackus said the new niches are growing.  Manufacturing is a hot industry now but remains very competitive, he said.

Buck Knives moved to Post Falls from California six years ago.  Lower business costs and some incentives enabled Buck to build a factory with ability to track control quality, costs and reduce import issues.

Ed Endebrock, who owns Hydraulic Warehouse in Lewiston, is renovating a building in Craigmont for Ende Machine & Foundry, where he will produce hydraulic pump and motor parts he now imports from China.  Making the parts here will control quality, shorten lead time substantially and improve cash flow, he said.

“When they are good, they are good,” he said of the imported parts.  “If they are bad, what do you do?  It’s not cost-effective to send them back.”

The City of Craigmont received a $500,000 Idaho Community Development Block Grant for infrastructure at the planned business park that will include the foundry.

Idaho officials are working with in-state businesses, courting new businesses and targeting foreign direct investment as part of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Project 60 effort to grow total economic output.

“It’s not our job to pick winners and losers,” Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said.  “It’s our job to provide the level playing field and predictability businesses look for.”  Competitive tax and other business costs help, he said.

At FAMCO, Artis enlisted manufacturing specialists at Idaho Tech Help for assistance during and after the construction boom.  The first project was to streamline instead of expand.  The second was to identify revenue streams that could be pursued or expanded, which led to the new roofing products.

Artis must submit a new application and documentation each time he seeks a new phase of the U.S. Economic Development Administration grant through Northwest TAAC, which he matches dollar for dollar.  Future infusions likely will go to Web designers to optimize the retail site, and to product design and marketing specialists, he said.

“This does not fix worldwide imbalances and inequities,” Artis said.  “This gives FAMCO a boost, a shot in the arm to address the positive things.”

Patrick Meuleman, client development manager with Northwest TAAC in Boise, said the program seeks businesses that show sales or production declines over two 12-month periods; have reduced staff, hours or wages; and can prove foreign competition affected them.  The money goes to third-party service providers and cannot fund physical assets.

Reprinted with permission

January 31, 2011
By: Robert Bowman

If you’re like me, your eyes tend to glaze over while reading stories about dumping disputes between trading partners.  Sure, you know what dumping is – the practice of selling raw materials or finished goods overseas at prices below one’s production costs, or what’s being charged at home.  But what are the calculations used to determine whether a country is dumping?  And what are the underlying numbers of any particular case?  The newspaper articles never say.  You just take it on faith that the exporting country is engaged in predatory pricing, or that the target country is playing political football.  Let the World Trade Organization sort it out.

A peek behind the scenes, however, yields some surprising facts about the way that dumping cases are litigated.  Turns out the U.S. Commerce Department finds instances of dumping about as often as the orthodontist says your kid needs braces – 95 percent of the time.  And the consequences can be severe, both for seller and buyer.  Antidumping penalties can remain in place for years, even decades.  In one case, the U.S. has blocked imports of potassium permanganate from China and other countries for 30 years.  The chemical compound is used by virtually every city and town in the U.S. to purify the water supply.  (Oddly enough, it’s also employed in the aging of movie and theatrical props).  The world market price for potassium permanganate: about $900 per metric ton.  U.S. domestic price: up to $2,500.  No wonder movies cost so much to make.

China is a favorite target of the Commerce Department, which is egged on by U.S. domestic producers who claim their very existence is threatened by a flood of cheap foreign goods and materials.  Fair enough, if China really is selling below cost in an effort to gin up its export markets.  But we need to take another look at the way the U.S. makes that determination.  According to one international trade lawyer, William Perry of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, there’s something fishy about the numbers.

For most exporting countries, the Commerce Department makes an effort to determine the market price of goods at home, as well as the economics of producing them.  Not so with China.  Because it’s considered a non-market economy that doesn’t play by the rules of capitalism, Commerce doesn’t look at the country’s actual prices and costs.  Instead, it constructs the numbers based on factors such as China’s cost of raw materials, labor and energy, coupled with the market price charged in a third country like India or Indonesia.

The results can be unusual, to say the least.  In the late 1990s, Perry was attempting to pry open a dumping order against silicomanganese from China.  Electricity is a key element in the production of that alloy.  At the time, Perry says, users were paying 6 cents per kilowatt hour in the U.S. and 3 cents in China.  But in determining China’s cost of electricity, Commerce used the figure of 12 cents per kilowatt hour, which it derived from India.  That decision greatly inflated estimates of China’s overall cost of producing silicomanganese, and guaranteed that the U.S. would find evidence of dumping.  “It happens all the time,” says Perry.

The real victims of the charade aren’t the Chinese, who can find alternative markets for their products.  (“There are dozens of other countries with lower costs than the U.S.,” says Perry).  It’s independent U.S. importers and distributors, who can’t compete under Commerce’s draconian rules.  Domestic producers are determined to drive foreign competitors out of the market, Perry claims, and in many cases they’re succeeding.  What’s the recourse for an importer of Chinese-made wooden bedroom furniture when Commerce slaps a duty rate of 198.08 percent on its product?

Making matters worse is Commerce’s practice of levying antidumping duties retroactively.  Other countries apply the penalties going forward from the time of determination.  In the wooden furniture bedroom case, Perry has heard estimates that U.S. importers could be liable for between $500m and $1bn in retroactive duties – never mind the legal and administrative cost of defending such cases.  That’s more than enough to put a small or medium-sized company out of business.

The situation shades into the comical.  Commerce imposed countervailing duties on coated paper from China, under the argument that because the Chinese government owns the country’s banks, their loans constituted unfair subsidies.  When the U.S. bought into private banks in 2008, using Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, China made the identical argument about their loans to American exporters.  Touche.  “The U.S. government has been using this as a sword to attack countries,” says Perry.  “Now others are going to use it as a sword against us.”

Let’s be clear about something: China’s hands are anything but clean.  The country’s manufacturers pay outrageously low wages in order to compete in overseas markets.  And China is all too ready to file spurious dumping complaints against its many trading partners.  But we’re not hearing the whole story, when we read about China’s alleged dumping of goods and Commerce’s acts of righteous retaliation.

So what’s to be done?  Commerce could define China as a market economy for purposes of determining actual production costs – treat the nation as it does, say, Iran.  And it could make future dumping duties prospective instead of retroactive.  Barring those moves – unlikely in the short term, given the political power of certain U.S. industries – American importers and distributors need alternative strategies for survival.  Perry backs government aid for domestic companies that are injured by cheaper imports.  As a template, he cites the work of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  The Seattle-based body provides federal grants, technical expertise and planning assistance to endangered businesses.  Perry notes the case of a U.S. maker of ceramic pots, whose livelihood was being threatened by imports from Mexico.  Today, having worked out a new business plan with the assistance center’s help, that same company makes ceramic molds for titanium parts for The Boeing Co.  In its 25 years of existence, Perry says, the center has saved 80 percent of the companies that entered the program.  And the price tag?  A measly $16m a year.

We’re paying a lot more than that to have the opposite impact on American business.  “Dumping cases,” declares Perry, “are destroying U.S. companies.”

Reprinted with permission from SupplyChainBrain

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