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BCA, ATN Announce Alabama’s Top Manufacturers for 2014

MONTGOMERY – The Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Technology Network today announced the winners of the 2014 Manufacturer of the Year Awards during a luncheon ceremony at the Alabama Activity Center. Begun in 2000, the BCA and ATN awards ceremony has attracted Alabama dignitaries and manufacturing leaders to honor companies that are committed to improve Alabama’s economy. 

The 2014 Awards keynote speaker is Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.

The awards program recognizes Alabama’s manufacturing enterprises that exhibit excellence in leadership, performance, profitability, and work force relations. Winning manufacturers are selected by an independent panel of judges who look for demonstrations of superior performance in customer focus, employee commitment, operating excellence, continuous improvement, profitable growth, and investment in training and retraining.

“Now in its 15th year, the Business Council of Alabama is honored to salute Alabama’s best manufacturers for their valuable participation in not only the state’s economy but also the economies of their employees and the suppliers who do business with them,” said William J. Canary, President and CEO of the BCA. “Begun 15 years ago, the Manufacturer of the Year Awards continues to be a premier event for the BCA, the Alabama Technology Network, the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The BCA is proud to be the exclusive affiliate in Alabama to the NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

The 2014 Manufacturers of the Year are: 

Large Manufacturer of the Year (400 or more employees)

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Gadsden

This automotive component manufacturing legend has been operating in Alabama since 1929. With a combination of leadership, strategic investment, and dedicated employees, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden has rolled out millions and millions of tires.

Goodyear-Gadsden is the largest employer in Etowah County. It’s a powerful Northeast Alabama presence and remains a leader in modern tire technology and production.

Today, the plant’s 1,550 employees produce about 620,000 original equipment and replacement tires each month under the Goodyear, Dunlop, and Kelly brand names.

The plant produced 5,000 more tires per month in 2013 than 2012, without hiring additional labor. Last year, the plant delivered more than $12 million in cost savings and it targets $15 million this year.

The Goodyear-Gadsden plant today is one of the state’s premier manufacturers, enhancing company profits, and increasing its market share with its 100-percent on-time delivery for original equipment customers as well as replacement tire customers. Not bad for an 85-year-old.

Medium Manufacturer of the Year – 100 to 399 employees

Prystup Packaging Products Inc., Livingston

This West Alabama manufacturer operates four production lines in 220,000 square feet of buildings. A new building of 90,000 square feet will house a fifth manufacturing line of paperboard packaging products for a total of 310,000 square feet of operations.

CEO J. Leslie Prystup, who has now been in the packaging industry for more than 60 years, started Prystup in 1980. The company is in its third generation of leadership.

The Prystup Packaging brand is dedicated to customers, employees, suppliers, stockholders, and the community. Its state-of-the art production capabilities and an award-winning staff of professionals have enabled the company to expand four times.

Prystup produces paperboard folding cartons, sleeves, deli back cards, bottle neck bands, and point-of-purchase advertising. The company serves customers in snack foods, dry goods, health and beauty aids, and supplies packaging for giants in the retail food and health aid industries.

Small Manufacturer of the Year – 1 to 99 employees

Back Forty Beer Co., Gadsden

The 2014 Small Manufacturer of the Year is one of the state’s entries in a new, national trend. Founded in 2009, the Back Forty Beer Co. is now the largest manufacturer of alcohol in Alabama. It plans to expand this year and create new opportunities for the community.

How did Back Forty Beer Co. it get its unusual name? Back Forty is an old farming term referring to the 40 acres of land farthest from the barn. Like the back 40 acres, which often has very fertile land and is capable of producing a tremendous crop, the company says the Deep South’s craft beer culture is fertile and ready for harvest.

Back Forty Beer Co. is located in a 72-year-old, 27,000-square-feet building. The downtown brewery produces seven award-winning artisan craft beers that are available for distribution in the Southeast. Back Forty Beer Co. also has an export development program focusing on Canada, Japan, Brazil, and Sweden.

Although it doesn’t pretend to compete with the giants, Back Forty Beer Company serves the rapidly growing niche beer market. Back Forty Beer Co. beer is available in Alabama’s major retail and grocery stores and popular eateries.

Emerging Manufacturer of the Year

Airbus, Mobile

If you thought that Alabama only produced automobiles, engines, and tires, a new transportation product for Alabama is already a world-wide player. Mobile is the first U.S. assembly facility for Airbus, the 2014 Emerging Manufacturer of the Year.

Airbus is erecting an assembly operation in Mobile where it will put together A320 passenger jetliners with the first flight scheduled for 2016. The company plans to hire 1,000 men and women after initial construction involving thousands of workers. Airbus was organized as the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., or EADS, in 2000 but became Airbus Group in January.

Construction officially began on the $600 million Mobile facility in April 2013 with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Airbus and EADS executives, Alabama officials, airline customers, industry suppliers, and employees who will produce four aircraft per month beginning next year.

Airbus already produces 13 different models of passenger aircraft and produces freighters, military and corporate aircraft. If you’ve flown commercial in the last 30 years, you’ve probably traveled in an Airbus. More than 2,100 Airbus aircraft have been delivered to customers in the United States since the first Airbus jetliner in 1978.

Finalists for the Manufacturer of the Year were Back Forty Beer Co. of Gadsden; Belle Chevre of Elkmont; BP America Inc. of Decatur; Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. of Gadsden; Gulf Packaging of Bay Minette; Prystup Packaging Products Inc. of Livingston; Segers Aero Corp. of Fairhope; and, SPOC Automation of Trussville.

In addition to the small, medium, large and emerging manufacturing awards presented at the luncheon, an award was presented for the third year in a row to the highest achieving Alabama BEST Robotics team:

Best of the BEST Award

Wetumka High School

The BEST Robotics Inc., is designed to excite and inspire our students about engineering, science and technology careers through participation in a sports-like competition.  This non-profit, volunteer-based program is headquartered in Texas, and Decatur-Austin Robotics Coalition was the highest achieving school in the state during the 2012 BEST competitions.

The Alabama Technology Network of the Alabama Community College System links two-year colleges, the University of Alabama System, Auburn University and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama to solve the needs of industry. Each ATN regional center tailors its services to meet local needs, providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to enable Alabama’s existing industry to be globally competitive. The network is Alabama’s affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides hands-on assistance and training to smaller manufacturers.

The Business Council of Alabama is Alabama’s foremost voice for business. The BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly one million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.  BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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About Nancy Hewston

Nancy Hewston
Vice President of Communications, Strategic Information and Federal Affairs
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