Why Is U.S. Manufacturing Still Booming in the West? Area Experts Weigh In

Mike Bebout, Western U.S. Territory Manager at CNC Software, Inc.

We are fortunate to call on the expertise of the Mastercam network to address the strong manufacturing market that continues to thrive, even in these most challenging times. Here is an article discussing why U.S. manufacturing is booming in the West, courtesy of Mike Bebout, Western U.S. Territory Manager at CNC Software, Inc.

The year 2020 has been like no other that I can remember. We came roaring into 2020 with strength in nearly all the markets and indicators. And then business, especially the manufacturing business, raced off the COVID cliff. The impact was devastating. However, our Resellers and customers are resilient, and many found a way to prosper in the midst of the pandemic.

“Our busiest clients right now are in the medical industry and the firearm manufacturing industry,” shared Brian Pascoe, President of Prototek Engineering in Carver, Minnesota. “Medical clients making defibrillators, stents, and joint replacements are very busy due to everyday demand. These parts are typically made here in the United States for US consumption, not in China or Mexico. Clients trimming material for face masks, making face shields, and producing ventilators are also very busy.” Many shops are taking on production of personal protective equipment for first responders and medical personnel, not only to help in the fight against the coronavirus, but also to stay busy.

Brian Pascoe, President of Prototek Engineering
Jason Quinn, President of Q.T.E. Manufacturing Solutions

“Then there are the shops making parts for firearms, which are showing no signs of slowing down,” continued Pascoe. President of QTE Manufacturing Solutions in St. Charles, Missouri, Jason Quinn, agreed that firearm and boat manufacturers are surprisingly busy right now. Shooting and boating are both safe, socially distant options for fun. However, this trend isn’t sustainable, and we must look to longer-lived projects for this stability, preferably in aerospace.

David Olson, Director of Sales and Marketing at Verisurf in Anaheim, California, shared that some businesses are above the effects of the shutdown solely because of the longevity of their projects. “Many of our customers are aerospace or high-compliance manufacturers with long-term projects that take years to start or stop.” However, the aerospace industry is split very distinctly between thriving defense and paralyzed commercial.

David Olson, Director of Sales and Marketing at Verisurf

“Commercial aerospace is crippled right now, and the outlook for recovery is in the 24- to 36-month range,” noted Quinn. As quarantine measures keep away even the most frequent flyers, commercial airlines, and their suppliers are left to struggle. Quinn continued to predict that this two- to three-year estimate could even be extended further if people continue to avoid airports.


While the commercial aerospace industry limps along, space and defense sectors are booming. “Aerospace is doing well in sectors where the government is spending money on military, space, and defense,” said Patrick Shelar, CEO of CAD/CAM CONSULTING SERVICES in Newbury Park, California. “Our bigger customers pursuing ventures in space are remaining busy, and the trickle down from that is seen with contractors and smaller shops that are producing parts for them.” Almost any shop dealing with this area of aerospace is sure to be busy.

“We like to see our customers growing compared to their activity prior to the shutdown. A handful of our customers are actually expanding their businesses, while others are hanging on and trying to stay in business until we reach the other side of this curve. There are businesses that still need our services, which suggests that shops are still making parts, training their staff, and going about business, albeit with new hurdles,” continued Shelar.

There is good news for any manufacturer, though—this can’t last forever. As Shelar said, “If you’ve made it this far, then it seems you have weathered the worst of the storm.”

Quinn had this advice moving forward: “The businesses that will continue to succeed are the ones that don’t stagnate, the ones that have the desire to stay in pursuit of the new processes and new technology. Those that are successful never allow the mindset of ‘we’ve arrived.’” Wise words in any economic climate.

I hope these examples of resilience and aggressiveness inspire you in your current and future ventures. If you remember one thing, remember there is always a way to find success in the midst of hardship.

For a variety of strategies to find success in challenging times, explore the Dynamic Thinking Series of free webinars, whitepapers, training, and blogs.

ProtoTek Engineering is a Mastercam Reseller serving Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

QTE Manufacturing Solutions is a Mastercam Reseller serving Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois.

Verifsurf is the developer of the powerful metrology software of the same name.

CAD/CAM CONSULTING SERVICES, INC. is a Mastercam Reseller serving Southern California.