A welcome bright spot in the North Bay economy is reports of a surge in orders and other positive news among local manufacturers both big and small.
Hopefully, the surge is reflective of a sustainable trend and will not follow the recent pattern of sharp starts and stops in national inventory buildups.
Among large technology companies, BioMarin Pharmaceutical followed news of a major Novato lease with last week’s acquisition of the biotech company ZyStor Therapeutics for $115 million.
Also last week, Sonoma County’s largest high-tech employer, Agilent Technologies, reported a 24 percent increase in third-quarter revenue.
Small manufacturers also report increasing activity.
Electronics component maker Schurter USA in Santa Rosa recently reported a 50 percent jump in July sales. Another Santa Rosa company, Wright Engineered Products, reported at least a 30 percent increase in domestic and overseas orders.
Some of this is no doubt attributable to coming off a low sales base in 2009. But it is inarguably a positive trend, as was the announcement last week by the 101MFG manufacturing consortium that it would launch a region-wide push for companies to adopt ISO quality standards.
“We want as a region to operate on a best-in-class, world-class stage to go toe-to-toe with the world’s most productive and successful firms,” said 101MFG director Dick Herman. The group has about 200 members and is reaching out to hundreds more across the greater North Bay.
Mr. Herman’s vision is to create the world’s first “100 percent ISO-certified” manufacturing region.
On a practical level, being ISO certified opens up new market opportunities both domestic and foreign for local enterprises. And it also means local companies requiring ISO certified suppliers could source more components from other companies nearby that achieve the designation. That is a strong “buy local” message.
Again, the recent uptick in manufacturing activity is providing a needed boost. And the ISO certification push is an innovative way to sustain and expand local manufacturing for the long term.