“Manufacturing in Maine is dead.” That is the common phrase I hear when people talk about our state economy and how to grow it. Yet there is example after example of positive success stories of people and companies not just making it in Maine, but thriving.
The Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a program of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership provides business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers.
It recently stopped by a Saco hand tool manufacturer to honor them with the 2015 Maine Extension Partnership Manufacturing Excellence Award. Xuron Corp. has received this honor for the staff’s production quality and innovation on the job.
Xuron is located in the Industrial Park Road in Saco and founded in 1971 and has been headquartered in Saco since 1986. It is one of the world’s leading manufacturers in hand tools for anything from electronics to craft jewelry.
The Manufacturing Excellence Award is presented each year to a company that demonstrates the leadership, vision and manufacturing excellence that characterize Next Generation Manufacturers.
Sen. Linda Valentino and I toured the facility at Xuron after recognizing the company’s efforts with a legislative sentiment. I will tell you the secret to their success – the workers. Yes, the management tend to be the recipients of any praise from various associations and groups, but this and other companies would not be where they are without their hard-working, dedicated and highly skilled labor force. I was thoroughly impressed with just how much manual labor is still a part of the process of producing the end product. After visiting many highly technical and automated facilities, including the Poland Springs bottling plant in Hollisor Madison Paper, there is a perception that machines have replaced a lot of the manual labor and instead the need is for machinery fixers and computer specialists. Not here. Individuals still use a small hammer to pound something in place, a grinder to make the perfect edge, and hand testing every single item that is packaged for resale. In fact, it was mentioned by one of the co-owners that they tried to computerize some of the tasks and it simply couldn’t match the skill and precision of a human being. There is clearly still an inherent benefit of having a human touch to manufacturing goods. The employees were genuinely engaged and proud of the work they do each and every day. Sure there is some pomp and circumstance associated with bringing in guests, but you can tell when someone is putting on a face. To see so many take such pride in the passion of their craft was rather inspiring. Moreover, having something tangible made by Mainers with the “Made in Maine” stamp and “Made in the U.S.A.” seal of approval, gives me hope for the future of our economy.
Congratulations Xuron for this well-earned achievement. You make Saco and our state proud. A shining example of best practices in manufacturing and in business.
Justin Chenette is serving his second term as state representative for Saco District 15. Outside the Legislature, he is owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Follow updates at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/JustinChenette, and Twitter.com/ JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco