The 2017 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Innovation

Gold: Gear Aid, Bellingham; Silver: Sterlitech, Kent

April 25, 2017

Bill Virgin


Gear Aid, Bellingham

Outdoor gear takes a beating in rugged conditions. Gear Aid makes the adhesives, tapes, water repellents, cleaners, lubricants and deodorizers to restore camping equipment and sporting goods to prime condition. In recent years, the company added accessories, such as towels, knives and portable lights. Formerly McNett Corporation (after the name of the founding family), the business was acquired by a Canadian company in 2015. It changed its name to Gear Aid in 2016 and has been expanding not just its product line but also markets into which they are sold, has built more online retailing capacity and reworked packaging, all with the goal of driving growth.

Sterlitech, Kent

Sterlitech makes filters capable of pulling out the tiniest sub-micron materials that boast outsize importance, either as a threat to workers health, a high-value material that might otherwise be wasted or for disease detection/diagnosis. Filters are also used in desalination and water-conservation systems. The company has expanded its line of lab equipment for the microbiology and life-science sectors. Another potential growth market: filters and supplies for growers, processors/extractors and quality-control test labs in cannabis production.