Manufacturing over masks

October is the time to celebrate an important business sector

I’ve never been a fan of Halloween. Although my grandmother used to make elaborate costumes for me as a child (I was Fievel Mousekewitz from An American Tail one year—complete with a fully padded mouse head that dwarfed my 7-year-old body), trick-or-treating just never appealed to me. I always felt too cold, too embarrassed, and usually too underwhelmed by the candy to justify walking door-to-door in what was often a cold and windy rainstorm typical of the season.

Recently, however, I learned of a new day observed in October that has redeemed this month for me: National Manufacturing Day (Oct. 3). Enacted in 2011 by President Barack Obama shines a spotlight on American manufacturers.

Though most people think of manufacturing jobs being predominantly overseas, the manufacturing industry in America is a thriving sector of the national economy, with the U.S. Department of Commerce reporting that manufacturing supports 17.4 million jobs, with more than 700,000 of those jobs added since 2010.

Some of those jobs are right here in our own backyard. Transfer Flow, Weiss McNair and Roplast Industries are just a few of the manufacturers that call the North State home and were some of the companies featured at a local manufacturing expo held in collaboration with the National Manufacturing Day earlier this month. The event also featured a local solar manufacturer, Elite Solar, which is just breaking into the manufacturing sector.

Elite Solar has been in business for about five years, owned and operated by Kirk Short, an Oroville local. Six months ago, Elite Solar moved beyond solar design and installation and launched into the manufacturing of solar racking—the pieces that solar panels fit onto.

Short said the shift into manufacturing was sparked by his existing racking manufacturer closing down their U.S. operations to focus on other international markets. Short purchased the business, bought the old Pepsi bottling facility in Durham, and started manufacturing operations about six months ago, adding an additional revenue stream for his business and expanding manufacturing jobs in the county.

Short said manufacturing racking fills a need for his business, and others, noting that based on his knowledge of the industry, he believes Elite Solar is one of the few solar-racking manufacturers in California (he doesn’t know of any others in Northern California).

Elite Solar is one of those businesses that we now have a formal excuse to take time to honor in October. National Manufacturing Day is a great fall celebration that requires no costumes or doorbell-ringing.

In September, I wrote about the proposed demolition of the Marie Callendar’s building on East 20th Street and plans for new construction of a multitenant building there. I confirmed this week that Panera Bread is going through the city planning process right now, with plans to open in that location, complete with a drive-thru. More to come later, but I know this news will excite at least a few readers.