General Business

Is Manufacturing Alive in New Jersey?

NJMEP’s annual Manufacturing Day event revealed that some 10,000 manufacturing firms proudly dot New Jersey’s landscape. However, as some prosper, many face labor pool challenges, among other obstacles.

New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) today hosted its eighth annual Manufacturing Day for New Jersey event where best-in-class companies were showcased via an awards presentation and various speakers and breakout sessions spotlighted manufacturing’s triumphs, challenges and developments.

NJMEP’s CEO John W. Kennedy noted that New Jersey’s labor pool has a dearth of workers trained in areas such as CNC and/or lathe operator, for example. He cited a need to build the worker “pipeline,” underscoring the significance of apprenticeship programs including – but not limited to – New Jersey’s Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) initiative.

The above scenario has arguably become a broader manufacturing sector theme, since older workers’ large-scale retirements and New Jersey’s high cost of living are impacting manufacturing firms’ human resources capacity.

Kennedy separately bemoaned some manufacturing companies’ inattention to cybersecurity, calling it “bad business” when such firms lose money or suffer other damages as a result.

Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), spoke first of NJBIA’s origins nearly 110 years ago as an association for manufacturing companies, explaining, “I will tell you that our passion and commitment starts with our representation of New Jersey manufacturers.”

Siekerka added that there are indeed approximately 10,000 manufacturing firms in New Jersey, “and we need to get to know each and every one of them, to help drive New Jersey’s economy, and – quite frankly – the economy of the United States.”

State Senator Linda R. Greenstein (D-14) said she wants manufacturing to be seen as an “integral part of the New Jersey economy.”

She explained, “As recently as the other day, I was talking to someone and they said, ‘Who are we kidding? Is there any manufacturing in New Jersey?’  When I asked that question four years ago myself, I was shocked to find out how much manufacturing there is.

I do believe that many people are ignorant [regarding the number of manufacturers], and that we need to do everything we can to change this,” Greenstein said.

Assemblyman Andrew P. Zwicker (D-16) asked the audience, “What do we do from this day forward [regarding manufacturing]?” He too cited, in part, needs/efforts surrounding workforce development, apprenticeship programs and “the next generation of technologies,” for example.

James Hoffman, an educator with 30 years of experience at Newton High School, where he now facilitates the Newton High School robotic team, was the morning keynote speaker.  Both Hoffman and the students of “Aperature, Newton Robotics Team 3142” spoke about the complex robotic endeavors and associated skills to which they have been exposed.

If there was an overarching theme for today’s event, it might have been that manufacturing continues in New Jersey, and that Trenton’s historic slogan “Trenton Makes, The World Takes” (first coined in the year 1910) remains true via endless iterations, today.

Today’s NJMEP award winners:

Manufacturer of the Year – Small (50 or fewer employees)

eMachine Shop – WINNER

Novembal USA Inc.

Premier Compaction Systems

Roben Manufacturing


Manufacturer of the Year – Medium (51-250 employees)

Asbury Carbons

Broadway Industries

Compass Wire Cloth Corp.

Puratos Corp. – WINNER


Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics


Manufacturer of the Year – Large (251 employees or more)

All American Poly

Bruker OST LLC


Phillips Precision Medicraft

Thorlabs, Inc. – WINNER


Manufacturer of the Year – Young/Start Up (in business five or fewer years)

Modern Material

Proximate Concepts, LLC

Saltopia Infused Sea Salts

Suuchi, Inc. – WINNER


Innovator of the Year

Catbridge Machinery

iNTECH Power-Core Corporation

Westlock Controls – WINNER


Manufacturing Cares

Absolute Green

Broadway Industries – WINNER

Calandra’s Bakery

Mariano Press

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