AWB names Vaughan Co. 2021 Manufacturer of the Year

An innovative Montesano-based company with customers worldwide has been honored for its commitment to manufacturing excellence.

Vaughan Co. of Montesano was named the 2021 Manufacturer of the Year by the Association of Washington Business (AWB)

Vaughan Co. founder Jim Vaughan invented the world’s first “chopper” pump in 1960 to prevent the pumps at local dairy farms from clogging and breaking down. His breakthrough led to dozens of patents and formed the foundation of a company that now employs 115 people and sells products in 92 countries around the world.

AWB President Kris Johnson presented the award to company officials on Friday afternoon, Oct. 1, during the first day of AWB’s 2021 Manufacturing Week bus tour.

“The Vaughan Co. exemplifies the spirit of innovation and problem-solving that drives Washington manufacturers,” Johnson said. “Someone saw a problem and found a way to solve it. More than 60 years later, the company employs third- and fourth-generation family members and remains the industry leader.”

The award was presented to Stacie Vaughan, company CFO. She is part of the fourth generation of her family to run their namesake manufacturer of chopper pumps. She and her brother Jesse Vaughan are two of the 10 descendants of founder Jim Vaughan, who are continuing the growth of the company their great-grandfather founded in 1960.

“Sixty-one years after welder Jim Vaughan founded a company to sell the combination chopper and pump he invented, his great-grandchildren are running a globally successful manufacturing firm in Montesano that employs 120 people and keeps crucial infrastructure running through natural disasters like floods and simple hard everyday use,” read an AWB statement.

AWB’s Manufacturer of the Year Award is given to a company that has a commitment to manufacturing excellence, has found creative solutions to challenges, as well as involvement in public policy that impacts manufacturers.

Finalists for the 2021 award included Jubilant HollisterStier of Spokane and Tacoma’s Polymer Industries.

The award presentation was among the highlights of the first day of AWB’s fifth-annual Manufacturing Week tour. The day started at Alaska Airlines in Seattle and continued to Vaughan Co. in Montesano, Heritage Distilling and South Puget Sound Community College in Tumwater, and Capital High School in Olympia.

“AWB’s Manufacturing Week bus tour is a celebration of Washington’s manufacturing sector and everything built in Washington,” said Johnson. “We’re excited this year not only to visit with manufacturers and highlight the good jobs they provide, but also talk about what it will take to meet the state’s goal of doubling Washington’s manufacturing jobs base in the next 10 years.

Washington’s manufacturing sector produced more than $65 billion in economic output in 2019.

Manufacturing has a big impact on Washington’s working families and communities, too. The sector employed 305,000 people at 7,853 manufacturing firms in 2019. The average compensation was more than $81,000 per year. Many of these jobs offer training and career opportunities without a traditional four-year college degree and are popular with those seeking to avoid student loan debt.

Friday’s tour covered Grays Harbor County, with more than 2,600 manufacturing jobs, and Thurston County, with 3,000 jobs. It also covered King County, where more than 105,000 people work in manufacturing jobs that pay more than $94,000 a year on average.