Wyoming Manufacturing Companies Are Innovative, Diverse

Special Operations has been designing and making emergency-operations equipment for 22 years in Wyoming.

By
John Fuller
On Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 09:03

Special Operations has been designing and making emergency-operations equipment for 22 years in Wyoming.

With clients around the world, the Cody-based company could set up shop anywhere, but chooses to remain in Wyoming for multiple reasons, says Stu Alan, chief operations officer.

“This is the greatest place to be; we have phenomenal employees, and working with the state is really nice because they’re very helpful,” Alan says. “The tax base makes it worthwhile, and they’re always finding ways to make things happen for us.”

Wyoming Manufacturing Works

It is a relatively small slice of Wyoming's economic development, but manufacturing in Wyoming includes a diverse group of innovative and growing companies.

Wyoming manufacturers get a boost from a number of state initiatives, notably Manufacturing-Works, a nonprofit that focuses on improving the four P’s – processes, products, performance and people – through a range of programs and services.

The organization’s Lean program, for example, can help companies achieve up to 20 percent cost savings by implementing certain measures. Eureka! Ranch helps small manufacturers get innovative products in the pipeline. Another program focuses on health and safety, including an OSHA-certified trainer on staff to help companies identify and eliminate problems, says Larry Stewart, center director.

Manufacturing-Works is a partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as the Wyoming Business Council and University of Wyoming, and maintains six offices across the state.

Aviat Aircraft Inc. develops, manufactures and services sport and utility aircraft in a 72,000-square-foot facility in Afton. The company says availability of labor with experience in light aircraft is a key advantage.

Brunton, a manufacturer of camping equipment, just built a new facility near the Wind River Mountains in Riverton.

“There are many tax advantages to conducting business in Wyoming, but more than that the people that live here are a breed apart — strong, agile and not afraid to roll up their sleeves,” says Jason Kintzler, brand manager. “That work ethic is a tremendous asset to any company, including Brunton, and it’s the reason we’re confident that we will be able to continue to grow our business.”

New Business in Wyoming

One of the state’s newer players, Little Bits Inc., also showcases the diverse manufacturing sector in Wyoming's economic development. The Buffalo company, launched in 2008 by Joseph and Shelly St. Pierre, manufactures environmentally friendly cat litter and has been so successful that it’s already moving into new product lines.

“We wanted to have an economic impact in our local community, and we wanted something that would be stable regardless of what was happening with the energy industry around here,” says Shelly St. Pierre, a Wyoming native.

The business got up and running in a facility leased from the city of Buffalo and Johnson County’s joint powers board, which has worked closely with the new venture.

“The Wyoming Business Council gave us a lot of guidance and support, and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center was instrumental,” she says. ‘‘We have had total support and have tried to utilize all the resources Wyoming has to offer — and there are a lot.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Fuller has a long career in the communications business.