Making It Work


There's a long tradition of manufacturing on the South Coast, Cape Cod and even the Islands. Some of those industries have faded away, or their work sent overseas. But WCAI's newest radio series, "Making It Work: Manufacturing on the Cape, South Coast and Islands", found that new technologies are creating new manufacturing opportunities, particularly when it comes to highly-specialized and technical products.

WCAI is taking a look at manufacturing in its coverage area. In recent years, the push has been to have what's called "advanced manufacturing" - making things here that really couldn't be produced properly elsewhere, particularly in areas close to the Cape Cod Canal, where employers can tout to potential employees the benefits of living on or close to Cape Cod with easy access to Boston.

The series also looks at different manufacturing-related businesses on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, businesses that say they benefit from the islands' available workforce, while enjoying the casual island lifestyle.

    

The reporting for Making It Work is made possible by funding from the Circle of Ten: ten community-minded, local businesses and organizations that value WCAI’s mission to educate, entertain and inspire listeners on the Cape, Islands, and Southcoast.

At Jenni Bick Bookbinding in Vineyard Haven, Juliette Bittner and Lauren Clark are sewing books together, punching holes through the leather covers and sticking pages in. The papers are all different colors and textures. Some are lined, others are printed.

"They have a variance of pages that you can write on and draw on and glue things into," said Bittner, who has worked here since she moved to the island five years ago.

Brian Morris/WCAI

Nantucket might be the last place many people would associate with manufacturing. But the island does have a rich manufacturing past -- a history largely unknown to people who come here on vacation. Specialty manufacturing is alive and well on Nantucket, and two of these homegrown operations welcome seasonal visitors as a way to spread the word about their products. 

    

Promoting New Manufacturing While Fostering the Old

May 27, 2015
Brian Morris

At Mass Automation in Bourne, a team of eight or so engineers and skilled workers custom-build machines that have never been made before. It's a business built on innovation.

"We design and build custom equipment," said company president John Fraser. "A lot of it for medical and pharmaceutical type applications. Johnson and Johnson might come to us with a new surgical sponge that they've designed, and we'll design a machine to automate making that sponge."

Brian Morris/WCAI

The South Coast has a much longer and more robust history of making products than Cape Cod or the Islands. Two South Coast manufacturers in particular make very different types of products, but both employ specially-trained local talent to produce them.   

Davico Manufacturing in New Bedford has spent 28 years making just one thing - replacement catalytic converters. But within that one product category, there’s a huge amount of variety: 1,700 different sku’s, or part numbers, according to Davico Business Development Manager Glen Hamblet,

Sean Corcoran / WCAI

Lined up on the manufacturing floor of the Bourne-based company, Hydroid, the underwater robots look like torpedoes, with tail fins and rear propellers. They're different sizes, some six feet long, others more than double that length. The biggest one is painted a bright yellow submarine color, while the smaller ones are dark gray with black, so they're less easy to see when underwater.

"Two-thirds of our business is with the US Navy," said Hydroid president Duane Fotheringham. "We're also in 17 navies around the world. "