by Mike Vogel
Updated 5 yearss ago
» $41.7 billion
» 5% of Florida’s GDP
» GDP rank: No. 8
» Employment: 372,681
» 3.42% of total employment
» Employment rank: 11
About two-thirds of manufacturing workers in Florida make durable goods — wood and metal produces, machinery, computer products, electrical equipment, trailers and other auto parts. More than 40,000 workers are involved in making computer and electronic products. The largest number of workers making non-durable goods produce food products.
» Engineer, Avionica
Innovative, High Skill
The lean employment trend in manufacturing can be seen on the Avionica factory floor in south Miami Dade County, where Allison Weldon assembles parts into high-priced components for airline jets, some costing upward of $20,000.
Avionica, founded 20 years ago by two Miami engineers, makes data collection and transmission products for airplanes. Its miniature flight data recorders and its satellite voice and data communication devices are on 8,000 airplanes globally. The satellite devices let pilots communicate while over oceans and other areas with no cell coverage. The data recorders allow airlines to check on a plane’s condition — say, after a hard landing — remotely.
Avionica employs 60 people. It needs Oonly a handful of people — making $16 to $18 per hour — to actually assemble the devices.
Weldon worked in electronics for several years before joining Avionica nearly nine years ago.
Most of Avionica’s 60 workers are engineers. Software engineer Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers, a Netherlands native with a doctorate in information management, worked at the European Commission equivalent of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Products Agency. As a hobby, he developed a program for a flight simulator that would let pilots do the equivalent of texting to airlines while over the ocean where communication is done by satellite. Avionica saw his work and convinced him to turn his simulation into the real thing. The company recently readied a new product, and Hoppenbrouwers and other engineers, including Vice President of Operations Ed Wolf, worked until 4 a.m. to pull it off. “If the customer needs something, you have to push it,” Hoppenbrouwers says.
» Production Supervisor, Sancilio & Co.
» Team Leader
From the Ground Up
After high school in West Palm Beach, Chaundray Newby worked at a mall until it closed for renovation. Looking around in 2009, he found his way to a young pharmaceutical manufacturing company that recently had set up shop in Riviera Beach. He joined Sancilio & Co. When it had a couple of people. He started at the bottom, packing boxes for shipment.
Sancilio was founded in 2006 by Fred Sancilio, who has 26 U.S. patents and three pharma companies under his belt, including a North Carolina contract research company he built to more than 1,000 employees before moving to Florida.
Sancilio & Co. Went operational in 2010. It makes both clinical and non-clinical products and also contracts to help other companies develop products.
The company runs two shifts five days a week and is adding a third. Workers in protective clothing and eye protection work in compression rooms with machines that turn out 1,500 tablets a minute. Military veterans such as Tim Miles, who left the Navy after nine years and now leads a team, make good workers; they know the importance of following a process, says Alex Sancilio, the founder’s wife and vice president of corporate development.
Line workers make at least $12 per hour; others may make nearly $25.
Manufacturing Vice President Ted Stover, 40, says some manufacturers concerned about quality are moving work back to the United States. Adequate labor, however, is an issue. The company realized that some workers couldn’t understand written procedures and instituted a program to check their comprehension skills and upgrade them if necessary.
Fred Sancilio says the company could add 100 workers immediately if it could find qualified help.
Newby didn’t stay long in packaging. A father of three, he moved up to production supervisor as the company grew from of handful of employees when he started to 185 now. “I want to see the company grow,” he says. “I watched it when it was a baby. I want to see it grow and go off to college.”
1. 8% — Growth projected in manufacturing jobs in Florida by 2023. Durable goods manufacturing, about twothirds of the sector, is forecasted to grow 4. 7%. Non-durable goods — from rubber and food to apparel and printing — is predicted to fall 4.1%.