Recognizing Excellence in the Face of Unimaginable Circumstances: The MFG Excellence Awards

The 2020 MFG Excellence Awards took on a very different look this year as the very best of Michigan’s manufacturing industry were recognized during an engaging and inspiring virtual event on Thursday, 1/28/21. Although attendees could not gather in-person to recognize this year’s leaders, innovators and gamechangers, there was an air of pomp and circumstance as MMA honored eight deserving companies and individuals who exemplify the values of Michigan’s largest economic sector.

The event was co-hosted by MMA President & CEO John J. Walsh and 2019 MFG Woman of the Year and PTM Corporation President, CEO and Co-owner Donna Russell-Kuhr and featured special guests, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who delivered the opening remarks via video. The evening culminated in an announcement that has been highly anticipated for months: the winner of the “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” People’s Choice Award.

Governor Whitmer’s remarks set the tone for the reverential event, recognizing both the importance of the industry to the state’s economy and the achievements of the award winners.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of Michigan’s economy,” Whitmer declared. “And Michigan is the heart and soul of manufacturing in the U.S.”

Whitmer acknowledged manufacturers’ pivotal and unique role in facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year in particular, the exceptional contributions that Michigan manufacturers make to the workforce, to the communities and the economy are more evident than ever. Manufacturers were some of the first to go back on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, many creatively retooling operations to provide and donate critical PPE and other products to keep our state safe and healthy.”

The event included a special tribute to Michigan manufacturers’ response and recovery from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges the industry faced in 2020.

The heroic works of Michigan manufacturing were on display in an emotional video which premiered during the event.

Whether producing personal protective equipment (PPE), donating support materials to help with
the recovery or by giving back and volunteering, Michigan manufacturers rose to the challenge and led mankind back from the brink, as they have done time and time before.

Influential manufacturing leaders joined the celebration throughout the evening to share their congratulatory messages with the award winners including, Matt Haworth, Chairman of Haworth, Shilpan Amin, Vice President Global Purchasing & Supply Chain at General Motors and Matthew Godlewski, Vice President, U.S. Government Relations for the Ford Motor Company.

“It’s our industry that drives the innovation, investment, employment and community impact that make Michigan, and America, globally, best in class,” said Godlewski. “This year, perhaps more than any other year, there’s so much for the manufacturing sector to be proud of. In the face of the pandemic, manufacturers never hesitated to stand up to the challenge and do what they do best.”

Amin echoed the sentiment by saying, “Together, Michigan manufacturers took bold, swift and decisive action to help support the critical needs for personal protection equipment within our nation’s healthcare community and to protect frontline health care workers.”

Suspense built throughout the event to the announcement of the “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” at the end of the virtual festivities. As many of the top 10 finalists waited anxiously via live video, the winner was revealed to be Hemlock Semiconductor Operations for their hyper-pure polysilicon (see Spotlights to read about all of winners, past and present, of the MFG Excellence Awards).

This past year was an unprecedented challenge for American life. The COVID-19 crisis impacted daily life and work and tested our collective resiliency. Michigan manufacturers and the nearly 600,000 Michiganders working in the industry once again proved they can meet — and beat — the challenges thrust upon them.