The 2017 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Manufacturer of the Year – Small Firms

Gold: AeroGo Inc., Tukwila; Silver: Aeroforge, Puyallup

AeroGo Inc., Tukwilia

Moving something big and heavy — like a nuclear-reactor pump, a boat or an entire spacecraft — can be tough even with wheels. So why not let compressed air do the job? AeroGo built a company off the novel idea of air casters, in which a tiny layer of compressed air does the heavy lifting. The company recently marked its 50th anniversary but it has been keeping itself current by developing new products — such as wheeled vehicles to move up to 200 tons — and moving into new markets, including pharmaceuticals, entertainment (theaters use air casters to move seating sections), data centers and offshore oil platforms.

Aeroforge, Puyallup

Aeroforge makes tooling and ground-support equipment for Boeing and Airbus jetliners, selling to airlines, maintenance facilities and military organizations in more than 100 countries. Sales now top $12 million a year, and as it moves into the third generation of family leadership, Aeroforge has been busy adding to product lines and manufacturing capabilities as well as reducing costs and debt. Employee retention matters, too; the company established its own $15-an-hour minimum wage, and added 401(k) and profit-sharing plans.

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