Puratos Corp. ingredients are all over the place: in artisan breads and pastries, in chocolate and fillings. Bakus is the company’s North American market president, a position he’s held since 2018. He’s long been a power player in food manufacturing, with three decades at Nestlé under his belt, two decades of which was in executive positions. Bakus works out of the company’s Pennsauken headquarters, which is located near one of the company’s production facilities and its Innovation Center, which provides artisan bakers, industrial bakeries, supermarkets, and food service companies with access to state-of-the-art equipment, expertise, training, and a bevy of research into international trends. Last year, the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program recognized Puratos with a Manufacturer of the Year Award.
After more than five years with the organization, and having previously served as assistant executive director, Jackie Burke took the lead role at the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools over the summer. She successfully pushed for the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, approved by voters in 2018. The first grant approvals from the state, announced this year, clock in at $220 million. Those funds will go toward 17 expansion projects in 15 counties that will add programming – including some focused on manufacturing and STEM – and space for almost 5,000 more students. New or expanded manufacturing programs are being introduced in several counties, including Camden, Somerset and Union. In Gloucester County, the new Academy of Applied Technology and Advanced Manufacturing at Rowan College of South Jersey will instruct 120-150 full-time students, grades nine through 12, daily. Beyond programming, Burke and the NJCCVTS work to facilitate partnerships between vocational-technical schools and manufacturing, and other, employers who mentor students, advise on curriculum, and provide work-based learning for students.
Thorlabs is a New Jersey-based manufacturer of fiber equipment and optical equipment and a global manufacturer of Photonic Tools. Cable founded the company in 1989 and has expanded it for 30 years as its CEO and president until June, when Jennifer Cable, his daughter, assumed the latter role. Alex Cable is also a co-founder of Thorlabs’ strategic partner Castor Optics. Thorlabs operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Germany, U.K., Sweden, Japan, Brazil and China, with more than 2,000 employees worldwide. In 2021, the company added a photon-pair source to its Quantum Photonics offerings, in addition to a picosecond microchip laser that has material processing capabilities, and a new line of in-house volume phase holographic gratings.
Manufacturing still happens in Newark and a lot of it goes on at Unionwear, a 170-employee company run by Cahn, who also serves on the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program’s board of directors. Unionwear makes uniforms, hats and other promotional clothing. During the pandemic, the company was one of many that pivoted to providing personal protective equipment when its regular suppliers and customers were disrupted. Cahn generally has advocated strengthening domestic supply chains. Unionwear’s Made in America pedigree means it is the go-to source for political candidates who cannot, under any circumstances, be caught wearing or hawking anything marked Made in Some Other Country. The company was also in a position to benefit from global trade disputes as customers sought local sources for necessary apparel. “We’ve been getting a lot of interest, and a number of orders, from fashion companies that want to diversify their suppliers,” Cahn told NJBIZ last year. “Also, when prices on imported materials go up because of increased tariffs, the premium pricing for ‘Made in the USA’ is thinner. That makes it even more attractive for companies that want to use that angle in their marketing efforts.” In all, a strong recovery for a company that emerged from a pension related bankruptcy case three years ago.
Many New Jersey manufacturers bemoan the apparent lack of interest in the industry among young people. A few employers are actually doing something about it — including Campbell, the founder and CEO of Jersey City-based Eastern Millwork. In the spring of 2019, the company — a leading producer of architectural woodwork — teamed up with the Hudson County and Jersey City governments, along with three schools, to offer an apprenticeship program that allows Jersey City students to start a career immediately after graduating. The students are paid, with full benefits, and earn an associate’s degree from the Holz Technik Academy, without accumulating debt. They are guaranteed a job after completing the program at a starting annual salary of $70,000. All of which makes manufacturing look pretty great. In November, the Academy welcomed Thomas Edison State University as the four-year college destination for participating students. Campbell is a board trustee for the Hudson County Schools of Technology Foundation, and in 2020, he was recognized by Woodworking Network as one of its Market Leaders for the impact he’s made not just at Eastern Millwork, but on the industry overall.
Chiminski has been the chairman and CEO of Somerset-based Catalent Inc. since 2009. The company is a global provider of advanced delivery technologies, development and manufacturing solutions for drugs, biologics, cell and gene therapies, and consumer health products. Working with more than 60 partners – Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca among them – the company is on track to produce more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies this calendar year. In the spring, NJ Transit announced it would offer free rides for people to get vaccinated. That program was funded in part by a $12,000 grant from Catalent. COVID aside, in 2021 the company moved to expand its leadership in the nutraceuticals market with its $1 billion acquisition of Bettera, a manufacturer in the gummy, soft chew and lozenge segments of the nutritional supplements market. It also completed an acquisition of RheinCell Therapeutics GmbH, a developer and manufacturer of GMP-grade human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), positioning the company as a value chain partner for iPSC-based therapies. And it acquired Delphi Genetics, leading to its launch of pDNA development and manufacturing services at its Rockville, Md. facility. The company expanded its physical footprint, including a $360 million investment in Maryland, a new clinical supply facility in Japan, and the $100 million expansion of its facility in Anagni, Italy.
It’s been less than three years since former Pinnacle Foods executive Clouse took over at Campbell, but it’s been a storied three years. He came out of the gate running, guiding the 150-year-old company through multiple divestitures to focus on growth in its core snacks, meals, and beverages businesses. On the heels of billions in divestitures, which were mostly done by late 2019, the pandemic changed the game in consumer mealtime as Americans pulled their wallets out in grocery stores rather than restaurants. Campbell did well throughout the pandemic, and some of that success seems here to stay: Clouse reported in a September earnings call that the company gained two points in share of U.S. retail sales in its fourth fiscal quarter versus last year, with a 16% jump in consumption compared to two years ago. The gains reported in September countered challenges the soup company faced in the same quarter, which are a result of higher costs, supply chain issues, and labor shortages plaguing the market.
Connolly’s roots go back to the aviation and aerospace industry, and that gives him crucial insights into how the manufacturing sector operates in New Jersey. He chairs the board of trustees at NJMEP, the primary voice for manufacturers around the state. In his day job as president of Mahwah-based Shocktech, Connolly oversees a company handling the multimillion-dollar design, production and supply of products used in commercial and military aircraft, marine ships, mission launch vehicles, guidance systems, military vehicles and outer space. The company has been designing, manufacturing, and testing shock attenuation and vibration isolation mounting systems for the most demanding environments for over 25 years.
Brother International Corp. specializes in home office and business products, and home applications for sewing and crafting — both of which have exploded in demand as many people work from home to remain socially distanced. Cummins joined Brother in 1985 as a product coordinator for office typewriters, working his way all the up to president in November 2019. Brother made headlines last year when the company donated 100 industrial sewing machines to help produce masks at the height of the pandemic. “Given the severe and growing shortage of personal protective equipment, Brother is proud to donate our products to support these stalwart manufacturers with their efforts in making masks for our frontline workers,” Cummins said at the time.
DeFilippis, who co-chairs the intellectual property group at Norris McLaughlin, is one of the state’s most prominent voices in food manufacturing. She acts as outside general counsel for many in the space and shows up for them in court when necessary. DeFilippis is called upon time and time again to present on IP issues for food and beverage companies, and while that’s her bread and butter, she has a bevy of experience in other realms as well: liquor, jewelry, cosmetics, sports, and entertainment, to name a few, maintaining her focus on trademark prosecution and litigation.
In 2019 Farrell-led Church & Dwight brought Flawless and Finishing Touch hair removal products into its cabinet. In 2020 the company acquired zinc-based common cold shortener Zicam in a $530 million deal. The dealmaking continued this year with a $580 million deal for mouthwash maker TheraBreath. Those efforts may be paying off. In its most recent earning report, released in October, the company said it posted earnings per share of $0.80, topping the consensus estimate of $0.71. Church & Dwight reported revenue of $1.31 billion for the quarter, nearly 6% higher than the same period last year and better than analyst estimates of $1.28 billion. Clearly, the Ewing-based company is one to watch.
Gattone is vice president of engineering for Piscataway-based LIXIL Americas, a company that sells water and housing products within the brands American Standard, Grohe and DXV. And he is secretary-treasurer of the Plumbing Manufacturers International, the national advocacy and trade group for the plumbing industry. Like most manufacturing sectors, plumbing faces supply chain constraints, soaring material prices and labor shortages. PMI’s work will be integral in helping to resolve those issues.
Heltzer heads state government affairs for the Florham Park-based chemical producer BASF Corp, and chairs the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, which represents the state’s chemical manufacturing industry. In his role at BASF, Heltzer is responsible for the company’s state advocacy and grassroots programs in all 50 states. That entails administrative and lobbying responsibilities, and relationships with trade groups at the state level. He came on board with BASF in 2006 after handling U.S. government affairs and global domain name policy at the International Trademark Association. There, he managed the eventual passage of six federal-level intellectual property measures, as well as trademark legislation in more than 20 states. Before that, he was a staff member at the New York State Assembly. Meanwhile the CCNJ plays a key role in making sure the voice and needs of the state’s multibillion dollar chemical manufacturing industry are heard in the halls of government in New Jersey’s state capital.
Hermida has been executive vice president for North America Hygiene at RB since 2020, the same year that made RB’s products like Lysol household disinfectant very, very popular. His direction allowed the company to handle worldwide high demand for Lysol products due to the pandemic, and he kept his cool thanks to more than 20 years at CPG giant Proctor & Gamble, working all over the world. He’s been quoted saying, “At RB, we know that the best weapon against germs is knowledge,” and in late 2020 launched the Lysol Germ Cast app to give folks everywhere up-to-date numbers on the spread of COVID-19 in their area.
Howe has been with The Knotts Co. for much of his career – 41 years – helping customers navigate the industrial and automation markets to expand their businesses. After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University, he joined the Knotts’ sales team in 1979, working his way up to the president and chief executive where he’s been since 1998. He purchased the company in 2004. Under Howe’s tenure, Knotts has provided expertise in the areas of pneumatics, machine guarding and framing, electric actuators, conveyors, automation, motion control, robots, machine safety, and compressors.
The past year and change has been good for the bike industry, with early pandemic sales of bikes shooting up 400%. But too much of a good thing is, well, too much, and bike companies like Kent in Parsippany were hit with supply chain issues that in some cases are ongoing. Kent is one of the nation’s largest mass-market bike manufacturers, lining aisles in box stores like Walmart and Target, and Kamler’s been at the helm for nearly 50 years. When he took over the company from his dad in 1972, they had six employees and $4 million in annual revenue. He shared with NJBIZ that the company’s 2021 sales were in excess of $250 million, and it now employs 217. While none of the millions of bicycles Kent sells each year are made in New Jersey, the company does development and design work from its Parsippany headquarters, and its South Carolina factory makes 10% of its products. Kamler plans on tripling U.S. production over the next five years, though: he’s in the process of finalizing the purchase of equipment to make that happen.
Keller was named B&G Foods CEO in May, replacing interim CEO David Wenner who had held the position for two years. Keller is a CPG vet, most recently working as president and CEO of JDE Peet’s and previously holding the position of global president at Mars Wrigley. Since Keller took his post in June, B&G has made changes to its manufacturing fleet, including selling its facility in Maine and investing in existing facilities to increase production of sought after products like seasonings and its Ortega products line with the implementation of new high-tech, automated lines.
Like many of his peers at other major drugmakers in New Jersey – nicknamed the “Medicine Chest of the World” – Kendris was forced to completely shift focus during COVID-19. The company had to make sure its staff were working safely and not at risk of getting COVID-19, while at the same time researching drugs and other treatments for the virus. With new variants emerging – delta being the chief strain in circulation and omicron dominating news headlines – every drugmaker will have to devote at least some efforts to the lingering pandemic. East Hanover-based Novartis is developing an orally ingested pill that could be used for treatment against COVID-19, and has partnered with Pfizer to produce tens of millions of vaccine doses. “We’ve joined two cross-industry initiatives: the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a COVID-19 directed partnership organized by the Innovative Medicines Initiative,” Kendris told NJBIZ in an interview this spring. “We’re engaged with both of them in research, but we’re also doing our own studies of two compounds.” With the resignation of Novartis’ chief legal officer, Kendris has been appointed to fill the role on an interim basis.