By LIAM JACKSON
Capital News Service
LANSING — Mattresses that stay cool on hot nights, a table to lie on during spine surgery and a one-of-a-kind, million-dollar homemade boat are among the 10 nominees for the “most cool made in Michigan” for 2022.
The Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) launched the contest in 2018 “to bring attention to the really cool products that are being made in every community across the state of Michigan,” said Delaney McKinley, vice president of operations for the organization.
A common misconception is that Michigan’s manufacturing is mostly made up of large auto companies, McKinley said. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have big influences in the state, but Michigan manufacturing is much more than big auto companies.
“More than two-thirds of our members have fewer than 50 employees,” McKinley said. “They are committed to their communities and have often been multi-generational family businesses.”
Anyone other than MMA staff can submit a product for consideration.
The first batch of nominees was released in September and featured 39 products. The public could vote for a maximum of four products per day for two weeks. After two weeks, the top 10 voters remained.
The final vote ended on October 7. The top three voters will be announced on November 10.
Among the finalists is the Dreamboat, created by Van Dam Custom Boats in Boyne City, a family builder of privately commissioned wooden boats. Clients bring their ideas to Van Dam and they work together on the design.
The company produces “maybe one boat a year,” said Jeremy Pearson, the company’s director of global sales.
“What we build here, very few people in the world can build,” Pearson said. “There are very few companies that build boats commissioned by individuals.”
Buying a boat from them is a “significant investment” and prices range from $1 million to several million dollars, Pearson said.
Each boat is made with hand-cut wood, but also incorporates new technologies. ,
Another product in the top 10 is the Spine Tabletop.
The Spine Tabletop, created by Domico Med-Device in Fenton, allows spinal procedures to be performed using X-ray in an operating room. Recovery times for patients undergoing spinal procedures will be shorter, company officials say.
Domico Med-Device has partnered with Siemens, a radiology company, to develop the Spine Tabletop.
“They came to us and said, ‘Hey, can you help us set up this system so we can position patients the way we need to do minimally invasive procedures,'” Michael Czop said. , President and CEO. by Domico Med-Device.
“It’s great to be mentioned in the same context as some of the big manufacturers in the state of Michigan,” Czop said.
Another health product on the list is Instant-Trace from Fleetwood Electronics in Holland.
The small, portable device tracks how close people are to each other and for how long. It has been used by businesses during the COVID pandemic to monitor social distancing and help with contact tracing. And it could be used to monitor other infectious diseases.
Instant-Trace was developed in six weeks, said Jeremy Buckingham, sales manager for Fleetwood Electronics. Businesses that use technology, such as Kilwins Chocolates and Gordon Food Service, have not needed to add computing capacity to their buildings. All that was needed was wearable badges and cloud connection.
Over 100,000 badges have been produced and are used nationally and even internationally in places like Canada and Mexico.
“We try to stay humble, but there’s a really strong sense of accomplishment knowing that we’ve actually helped people,” Buckingham said. “We have this immense sense of gratitude to be recognized for our skills and our innovation.”
Along with educating the public about Michigan products, McKinley said the award benefits workers.
“I think they saw a personal affirmation of the work they do,” McKinley said. “And I think it also boosts the morale of their workforce to be proud of what they produce.”
Sean Hilbert, president of Cobra MOTO in Hillsdale, agrees. His company makes motocross bikes for young competitive riders.
“If you look at the pro ranks and watch supercross or motocross on TV, the vast majority of those pros got their start on one of our bikes when they were kids,” Hilbert said.
Cobra’s new electric motocross bike is on the list.
“It’s at the forefront of technology and electrification of our product line,” Hilbert said. “We don’t just electrify them just to electrify them. They must be much better than the product they replace.
Unlike a gas-powered bike, the e-bike can be tuned for training or racing, Hilbert said. The training mode has six different performance levels and the racing mode has different settings that cater to different conditions.
“You can basically match the power to the skill of the rider as well as the conditions you’re racing in,” Hilbert said. “That’s a huge advantage over a gas bike. You just can’t accomplish that with a gas bike.
Other products in the top 10 are the comfortable tank manufactured by Noble Gas Systems in Novi; Electro Arc Metal Disintegrator manufactured by Stillion Industries in Dexter; Magliner two-wheeled trucks manufactured by Magline Inc. in Standish; PS2000 WiFi Battery Backup System made by PumpSpy in Kalamazoo; PW100 observing system manufactured by PlaneWave Instruments in Adrian; and the Serta Artic Premier hybrid mattress made by Serta Mattresses in Romulus.
Michigan isn’t the first state to present an award like this, but McKinley said there is “no state that has a greater impact on manufacturing than Michigan.”
Previous winners include the Stormy Kromer Hats, a winter hat based on early 1900s baseball player George “Stormy” Kromer’s idea of attaching a headband to a baseball hat for winter. prevent it from flying away while on a train.
“There’s been a whole new fashion trend related to that, and we’re happy to be able to support that,” McKinley said.