Manufacturing Appreciation Week puts focus on producers
by Matt Shinall
Apr 13, 2013 | 1697 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Manufacturing Appreciation Week
Heatco worker Andres Ortegon swages tubes during Thursday’s Manufacturing Appreciation Week industry tour. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Each April, Georgia celebrates the economic impact of businesses in the manufacturing arena.

The creation of components or end-use products has historically been a major employer and tax base for Bartow County. Last year, Bartow recognized the 175th anniversary of the county’s first manufacturer, iron master and furnace builder Jacob Stroup.

Last week’s events, however, focused on the current crop of manufacturers in Bartow County — more than 140 in all, producing a range of goods from carpet, beer and automotive components to construction equipment, tires and more.

“I think it’s important to recognize how much of an impact manufacturers have on our community,” said MAW committee co-chair Tamara Brock. “Looking at the investment they make, this is just a nice way to say thank you and highlight them for a week. It’s the least we can do when you think about their economic impact.”

Local Manufacturing Appreciation Week efforts were spearheaded by the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development.

Events began Monday with a golf tournament in which about 20 companies were represented by employees invited for a round of golf at Woodland Hills Golf Club. The week continued with industry tours on Tuesday and Thursday.

More than a dozen chamber members attended each tour, which included Shaw Plant X and the city of Cartersville Water Treatment Plant on Tuesday, followed by Ampacet and Heatco on Thursday.

“Industry tours are about awareness, because the general public doesn’t get to see what a manufacturer does and what their start-to-finish process is,” Brock said. “So it’s a chance for them to understand how much goes into making that carpet tile or making that plastic bottle or your drinking water or the components in your heating system, because it’s something that you would not be aware of unless you see it firsthand — and I think it’s all things we take for granted.

“Like with Heatco [Thursday], people were unaware that an industry like that existed in Bartow County.”

Heatco is a global leader in the production of indirect, gas-fired heating systems for original equipment manufacturers of air-handler systems. Founded by Rob Hankinson in 1982, Heatco began in Cobb County, but relocated to Bartow because of a business-friendly environment for manufacturers.

While Heatco still manufactures traditional single burner heating systems, they have excelled in their field due to an innovative system using multiple smaller burners, one per heating tube. This technology has enabled Heatco to build a lighter, more efficient unit, which reduces thermal stress and creates an even distribution of heat.

“We’ve been manufacturing for 16 years and we’ve evolved into, now, our fifth generation of this product,” Hankinson said. “Technologically, I’d say we’re No. 1 in the market.”

Heatco supplies units primarily for commercial gas-powered heating systems. Their No. 1 customer is Trane and their North American market penetration is nearly 85 percent. A large portion of their business actually comes from Canada as well as other countries around the world.

“Other than the water treatment plant, every company we toured is not just a local company — they ship nationally, they ship globally,” said Chamber Chief Operating Officer LaDonna Jordan. “When people drive by an industrial facility and wonder what they do, most people don’t realize that they’re shipping all over the world.

“Few counties in Georgia or in any other state are as fortunate as we are in terms of manufacturing.”

For more information about Manufacturing Appreciation Week, visit www.georgiamaw.org or www.teambartow.com.