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Annual Manufacturers’ Summit Awards Highlight Top IE Innovations

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Ontario, CA – The Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE) will be hosting its 6th annual Manufacturers’ Summit at the Ontario Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 3 from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.  The premiere event of its kind in Southern California, that brings together local manufacturers to showcase the latest trends, changes and technology of the industry, has an attendance record of bringing between 500 and 700 people.

Event highlights will include keynote speaker Garry Ridge, president of WD-40 Company, panel discussions led by Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, Microburst presentations, that replace past break-out sessions, featuring short, hot topics of interest, and “Made in the Inland Empire” display.

A popular aspect of the program is the Manufacturers’ Summit Innovation Awards that celebrate the most innovative businesses and leaders in the Inland Empire.  For the first time this year, the contest will include a category for manufacturing students.

Entries from manufacturers and students will showcase innovation in any of the four established categories:

  • Innovation in Resource or Process Efficiency –energy, water and other resources and/or process and flow improvement;
  • Innovation in Product Development – products that support business and customer growth and margin improvement;
  • Innovation in Human Capital and Talent – developing top talent within the organization, empowering employees and building skills;
  • Innovation in Marketing – sales and marketing that facilitate business growth, increased market share and/or improved reputation.

The MCIE is accepting applications for award consideration until Monday, Jan. 16, and winners will be announced during the Manufacturers’ Summit.

“The Innovation Awards are a great way to showcase what a company is doing to be innovative to raise the bar,” said Award Chair Lisa Anderson. “In a climate of robust global competition, talent shortages due to skills gaps, Amazon and mega distributors changing the competitive landscape and poor employee engagement, these awards can prove, to Inland Empire companies and their employees, that they are innovative and have great ideas to grow their business and remain competitive. And with the addition of the student category, we now have a spotlight on hiring recent graduates who showcase their talents with their submissions.”

Last year’s award recipient in the Innovation in Resource or Process Efficiency category was Ontario-based Celestica.  The organization was faced with the challenges of reducing costs per customer requests while at the same time improving efficiency to manage increased orders.  The business successfully implemented a strategy to eliminate non-value add activities and embraced employees’ creativity in improving overall operations.

Newport Cottages, a minority-owned, family-run business located in Riverside that specializes in children’s furniture, won the “Innovation in Human Capital and Talent” category for successfully promoting and facilitating a Lean Manufacturing Transformation Rollout Program through its partnership with the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board.

The Manufacturers’ Innovation Awards highlight the efforts of many Inland Empire manufacturing businesses striving to succeed in a competitive market.

“As a small business in California, we struggle to compete with large manufacturers from all over the world. Many have what seem to be unlimited budgets for marketing along with reduced costs for doing business,” explained Angel Sanchez, COO and Director of Global Operations of Phenix Technology which was the 2015 winner of the Innovation in Marketing Award.

The Riverside-based business, that manufactures and sells professional fire helmets, was recognized for revitalizing the concept of “Made in America,” and the 40-year-old company has flourished to become a global powerhouse.

“To ensure we can continue making our products in the Inland Empire for decades to come, we focused our energy on innovation,” Sanchez explained.  “From lean manufacturing to creative marketing, we work hard to thrive in California.”

Submissions to be considered for the Manufacturers’ Innovation Awards will be accepted until Monday, Jan. 16.  For more information about applications or the Manufacturing Summit, please visit www

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