An Economic Base
The Eastside’s often-overlooked manufacturing industry remains strong and is gaining steam.
Many Eastside cities may be known for their more tech-centric businesses, but if you look further you’ll find that the area — much like its neighbors in all directions — also has its share of manufacturing firms.
But the Eastside’s manufacturing industry is somewhat different. The conjured images of conveyor belts, forges, and machine parts aren’t necessarily what it’s all about here. And if you look at the Merriam-Webster definition of manufacturing: “… something made from raw materials by hand or by machinery, usually in mass production,” you can see that the Eastside has plenty of businesses that fall under the manufacturing umbrella. This can be anything from producing baked goods to milk bottling and pasteurizing to making ready-mixed concrete.
In Woodinville, for example, the manufacturing of some of our area’s favorite drinks is happening on a daily basis. More than 7 million cases of wine are produced there annually. For many wineries, that production continues to grow. “Every year we are growing. This year we are looking at a total of 19,000 cases
bottled, where we had around 16,500 in 2018,” said John Patterson, general manager and owner of Patterson Cellars.
In 1976, Chateau Ste. Michelle became the first winery in Woodinville. Today, Woodinville has more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms attracting close to 1.6 million wine enthusiasts and novices each year.
Patterson Cellars opened its doors in 2000, and today its staff of 40 maintains two tasting rooms in Woodinville, one in Seattle, and one in Leavenworth. The winery’s largest customer is Costco, to which they sell an average of 3,500 cases annually.
“It’s amazing the variety of consumers that visit our locations. It’s unique to see the process from creation to retail happening all under one roof,” Patterson said.
Elsewhere on the Eastside, Boeing’s manufacturing presence can’t be ignored. The Boeing Everett Production Plant, built in 1967, is said to have the largest manufacturing building in the world. With 472 million cubic feet of space across 98.3 acres, this building could house the entirety of Disneyland and still have room for the parking lot.
“We are proud this region is home to Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and almost half of Boeing’s global workforce,” said Bill McSherry, vice president of government operations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing’s thousands and thousands of jobs allow for a wealth of job opportunities on the Eastside for those interested in aerospace. Producing airplanes such as the Boeing 747, which is 225 feet long, requires a large enough facility for building.
Drive south from Everett about 40 miles, and you’ll find the Renton Boeing facility. Compared to the Everett location, it’s small, but still quite large compared to most facilities. At 1.1 million square feet, the Boeing Renton factory employs another 10,000-plus people.
“Aerospace plays a vital role in the Puget Sound economy and in our local communities, and we take our commitment to this region seriously, investing in education, infrastructure, and innovation to continue improving the community,” McSherry said. A cross town, there is the manufacturing plant for PACCAR, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Bellevue and known for making some of those big rig trucks that can be found traversing our nation’s highways.
PACCAR has manufacturing plants around the world, including an assembly plant in Renton, and employs more than 1,000. According to the City of Renton,
PACCAR has produced more than 130,000 Kenworth trucks since 1993 and is known as a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality, premium trucks.
In fact, the City of Renton boasts the second-largest percentage of manufacturing jobs on the Eastside, with a whopping 21 percent. “Renton has a long history of
manufacturing and remains among our largest pieces of our city,” said Cliff Long, economic development director for the City of Renton.
In total, there are more than 77,000 manufacturing jobs on the Eastside. “Manufacturing provides an excellent base to our economy and should be a growing industry for years to come,” Long added. The Eastside isn’t just about the big manufacturers like Boeing and PACCAR. Small manufacturers make up approximately 96 percent of the total jobs here, many of which have been around for decades, and some are still family-owned.
There’s local aerospace manufacturer Renton Coil Spring, for example, which has been around since 1949; family-owned food processing company Northwest Gourmet Foods; and box manufacturer Alliance Packaging. Founded in Seattle in 1967, Alliance Packaging, now based in Renton, is the Eastside’s largest independent corrugated box manufacturer and employs 300.
“Last year, we installed the region’s first high-speed large-format digital corrugated printer, an EFI Nozomi C18000, which can print six colors up to 68 feet by 118 feet at 200 feet per minute,” said Matt Bowman, general manager of Alliance Packaging. In 2000, Alliance Packaging moved into its current 420,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, which designs and manufactures custom corrugated and foam packaging and displays. Top clients include Nike, Starbucks, Intel, Nintendo, and Amazon.
“At Alliance, we are privileged to work with many of the region’s best companies, in industries from aerospace to retail,” Bowman said. “We love what we do, and being part of a vibrant business community, working with established companies, new start-ups, and everything in between.”
This article was featured in the July 2019 issue of 425 Business Magazine.