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May 24, 2019


Make It Work

Attention to detail is key for Florida manufacturers.

Barbara Miracle | 6/1/2007
Statewide Manufacturing Employment
1. Computer and Elec. Products 49,300

2. Transportation Equipment

43,100 -0.9
3. Fabricated Metal 41,400 +2.2
4. Beverage and Tabacco Products 30,800 +3.8
5. Misc. Durable Goods 29,900 +0.3
Manufacturing (total) 397,500 -1.5
Source: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics,

When a customer came to Salazar Machine & Steel in search of a product to safely and effectively sanitize plastic bins used for harvesting produce, Pete Salazar developed, produced and patented the stainless steel Produce Bin Washer. It sells for approximately $65,000. In early 2007, it received the Governor's New Product Award. "We are able to customize machines for clients. We build to order," says Lora Salazar, director of sales and marketing for the company.

From its start in 1985, Immokalee-based Salazar Machine has focused on a specific niche -- the needs of the agricultural industry in southwest Florida. It manufactures products and supplies machinery for packinghouses, harvesters, shippers and others. Most recently, the company developed a truck for the citrus industry that includes a special 180-degree swivel driver's seat, air conditioning and hydraulic steering.

To prosper in an environment with high costs for materials, energy, healthcare, insurance and property taxes, manufacturers must refine their business plans. One strategy is to find an unserved corner of the market. Haines City-based Technology Research Consultants found a niche in hard-to-find avionics products that it sells to the U.S. Department of the Defense. Like Salazar Machine, the company developed a unique product and targeted it to a very specific market.

Companies also need to focus on their workers. With unemployment hovering around 3% in most parts of Florida, finding the right people isn't easy. "It is extremely difficult," says Lora Salazar, explaining that because the company employs only 14, workers must adapt, working on different projects from day to day. Community colleges, technical centers and career academies within high schools may work with local businesses to develop specialized training programs. Employ Florida and its local one-stop centers also can assist in finding workers.

Manufacturers also can take advantage of a number of tax incentives for targeted industries. For training, the Quick Response Training Incentives and Incumbent Worker Training Program offer grants to both new and existing businesses.

By The Numbers

  • There were 16,600 manufacturing companies in Florida in 2005.
  • Manufacturing makes up about 5% of Florida's Gross State Product.
  • Food products top the list of the most valuable Florida manufacturing sectors at $4.6 billion.
  • More than 93% of Florida exports -- a total of $31.1 billion in goods -- are manufactured products.
  • The average wage for a Florida manufacturing worker in 2005 was $43,423, more than 20% above the $36,096 in average state wages overall.


Manufacturers Association of Florida
(850) 402-2954

National Association of Manufacturers
(202) 637-3000

Employ Florida
(866) FLA-2345 (352-2345)

Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(321) 939-4000

Florida Department of Education
Workforce Education
(850) 245-9469

Tags: Florida Small Business, Business Services

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