The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Newly redesigned Velcro Companies lobby incorporates its product as lampshades. Ryan Lessard photo.

Top 5 Manufacturing Sectors

Metal fabrication: 938 facilities, 11,733 employees 
Computers and electronics: 256 facilities, 14,438 employees
Printing: 167 facilities, 2,461 employees
Machinery: 158 facilities, 7,303 employees
Food: 108 facilities, 2,377 employees
Source: N.H. Employment Security, based on 2014 average number of production facilities.
Top Manufacturers By City
Vibracoustic North America (50 Ammon Dr.; makes bearings, springs, isolators and mass dampers to reduce noise and vibration in cars; 500-999 employees)
Velcro Companies (95 Sundial Ave.; makes hook and loop fasteners for applications like apparel, crafts, medical equipment and transportation; 750 employees*)
Kalwall Group (1111 Candia Road; makes glass and other translucent building materials for walls and skylights; 250-499 employees)
Summit Packaging Systems (400 Gay St.; makes plastic spray can lids, actuators and valves, 250-499 employees)
Symmetry Medical (253 Abbey Road; makes sterile plastic trays for surgical kits; 100-249 employees) 
Graphic Packaging Intl. (80 Commerical St.; makes folding cartons, unbleached paperboard, coated recycled board and microwave packaging; 250-499 employees)
Concord Litho (92 Old Turnpike Road; makes direct mail material; 100-249 employees)
Concord Monitor (1 Monitor Dr.; prints newspapers; 100-249 employees)
HP Hood (330 N. State St.; makes dairy products; 100-249 employees)
Praxair Surface Technologies (146 Pembroke Road; makes surface-enhancing coating materials; 100-249 employees)
BAE Systems (65 Spit Brook Road; makes missile guidance and defense systems for fighter jets and night vision technology; 4,500 employees*)
Benchmark Electronics (100 Innovative Way; makes electronics for aerospace and defense, computing and data storage, energy, telecommunications and more; 500-999 employees)
Amphenol TCS (200 Innovative Way; makes electronic connectors and printed circuits; 250-499 employees)
ViaSystems Group (20 Trafalgar Sq.; makes printed circuit boards for aerospace and defense, automotive, cell phones and more; 250-499 employees)
Delta Education (80 Northwest Blvd.; puts together science kits for science education material which can include things like petri dishes, test tubes etc.; 100-249 employees)
Source: N.H. Employment Security. * Reported by company
iPhone screen debacle
In a deal with Apple in 2013, GT Advanced Technologies in Merrimack made a fateful deviation from its typical business model. Traditionally, it had manufactured the machines used for rapidly growing large batches of sapphire, a material used in LED lights, solar panels and smartphone screens.
Never before had the company used the machines to produce the sapphire itself, but it ventured to do just that by setting up a facility in Arizona with 2,000 furnaces.
The whole operation went belly up when GTAT failed to produce enough sapphire in the time required, eventually causing the company to go file for chapter 11 bankruptcy. It emerged from that bankruptcy last March and is back to doing what it was best at, making the machines that other companies use to make sapphire. 
GTAT’s founder, Kedar Gupta, had long left the company and created ARC Energy in Nashua, which produces similar devices and competes with GTAT. He says each machine they produce sells for about $500,000.
So while New Hampshire may not have a direct claim to fame for making part of the iPhone, it does make the machines that make the material that is used to make some smartphone screens.
Cutting Costs
Besides labor concerns, another major challenge manufacturers face in the Granite State is high electric rates. While Norton says there’s little that will change the grid power prices since electricity is purchased from the regional market, some companies are finding ways to generate their own electricity like the textile mills of old which harnessed the power of the Merrimack River.
Greer says new solar panels installed on the roof of his company are now producing about 40 percent of the power they use. Solar installations at his European plants are already producing as much as they use there and he hopes to add enough panels in New Hampshire to accomplish the same “net zero” footprint. 
At Velcro Companies, they invested in a natural gas turbine about 15 years ago to produce the vast majority of its energy and heat which helped save on energy costs by 15 percent annually. And Velcro Companies president Scott Filion says they are now looking at possibly adding a significant solar installation at its Somersworth location.
And while W.H. Bagshaw still gets its electricity from the grid, the company did away with its 10,000-gallon oil tank in favor of natural gas.
“Every time the oil truck showed up, it was a $30,000 bill and we have to pay it right there. That was huge,” Bagshaw said.
Zenagui Brahim at New Hampshire MEP says 70 percent of energy use by manufacturers goes straight into the actual manufacturing operation. The rest is stuff like lighting. So while switching to more energy-efficient lights might help somewhat, the best way to save money is to get more efficient at manufacturing, which is one of the key ways New Hampshire MEP helps companies.
“Lean manufacturing is just a methodology that improved the processes and cut down on non-value-added activities, cut down on cost. Everywhere you go, there’s cost in whatever we do,” Brahim said.
Lean manufacturing got popular in the past decade or so, as domestic factories needed every edge they could get over Chinese or Mexican facilities which enjoy cheaper labor costs. But the tide is turning. Bagshaw and Filion say there’s a big reshoring trend happening and that has to do with the quality, speed and supply chain control that many companies sacrificed when they saved money building parts overseas.
“When they get their shipment from China, half of them are good and half of them are bad, and they pick up the phone and can’t get a hold of anybody,” Bagshaw said. “Manufacturing has really slipped away in the past 20 or 30 years. I think it’s coming back. People are realizing that it’s a really kickass industry and it really runs our nation, small manufacturing especially.”
SpaceX rocket
After the U.S. Congress allowed for the harsh budget cuts known as Sequestration to take place, decimating Department of Defense budgets across the board in 2013, companies like Uni-Cast in Londonderry had to find other markets to diversify its product offering as a matter of long term survival. It makes durable and lightweight aluminum parts used in aircraft, so it turned first to the commercial airline market and later to the growing drone industry, even for allied countries like Israel and Turkey.
But one of its more interesting contracts of late has been been with tech mogul Elon Musk’s space venture, SpaceX. They make part that becomes incorporated into the larger reactor assembly of one of its space rockets. Ryan Lessard photo.
A-10 Warthog parts
Sen. Kelly Ayotte has long been a champion of the A-10 Warthog fighter plane, against pressure from Air Force leaders who want to phase it out. Ayotte’s husband was an A-10 pilot, plus many military experts say there are no other aircraft in the U.S. Military that can provide the same low and slow infantry ground cover (close air support) the A-10 is known for. Other, more advanced fighter jets like the forthcoming F-35 may be too fast to make the kind of eyes-on friend or foe determination or to safely fly as low as the A-10 to make the kinds of life-saving strafing runs that cause soldiers on the ground to spontaneously cheer.
But there’s another reason why Ayotte may be defending the A-10: New Hampshire jobs. It’s continued service requires constant wing replacement to keep the old birds in service. According to Ayotte’s office, Scotia Technology in Laconia makes metal tubes for the A-10 wing replacement program. Chris Parypa Photography |

Made in NH
A look at the state’s rocket-part makers and push-pin producers

By Ryan Lessard

 What do push pins, space rocket parts and Velcro brand fasteners have in common? They’re all made in New Hampshire, produced by some of the 1,900 or so manufacturers in the state. While the largest sectors include metal fabrication and electronics, even weaponry — from simple handguns and night-vision scopes to advanced missile guidance systems — is Granite State-made. But the state’s recent 2.6 percent unemployment rate also points to a problem for employers like manufacturing companies: a shrinking pool of locally available workers.

“I think this is probably New Hampshire’s biggest challenge right now, the labor question,” said economist Steve Norton.
Not your granddad’s manufacturer
According to a 2014 survey of small to medium-sized manufacturers in the state, finding qualified employees was tied for third place among their major concerns along with healthcare costs and after rising costs and the general economy. According to New Hampshire Employment Security data based on online postings, there are about 1,217 “production” jobs available in the state. And NHES data analyst Annette Nielsen says the true number of available manufacturing jobs is likely much higher since manufacturers rely heavily on staffing agencies.
When the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March of 2.6 percent was recently announced, Gov. Maggie Hassan said it was a sign of an ever-improving economy. It made New Hampshire tied for the lowest unemployment in the country. Unemployment is good news, to be sure, but economists say this low a rate belies a problem with workforce availability. 
The Federal Reserve considers any unemployment rate lower than 4.7 percent to be a technical labor shortage. 
And it’s even harder on manufacturers who have to overcome an industry stigma earned during the Gilded Age. Today, it’s easy to be proud of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company’s legacy in New Hampshire, but for many blue-collar families who had grandparents and great-grandparents working in those buildings under relatively unhealthy, unsafe and miserable conditions for meager pay, that memory dies hard.
But Wire Belt Company CEO David Greer says times have changed.
“This is not what you think manufacturing is. This is not the down, dirty, dangerous manufacturing of days gone by. This is high tech, computer-controlled, designed equipment, [a] clean, bright, air-conditioned factory. And there are good jobs in this industry,” Greer said.
Many in the industry, with the help of organizations like New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, are working to get young people interested in manufacturing jobs with visiting student tours and partnerships between companies and vocational schools or community colleges.
“What we need to do is … make manufacturing sexy again,” said Aaron Bagshaw, the president of W.H. Bagshaw. “Back in the ’60s we had this impossible mission of putting a man on the moon and there was all this romance behind that. How in the world can we do something like that? Well, it took so much manufacturing and engineering to put that together. There were so many people, thousands and thousands of companies involved in that mission.”
Plus, Bagshaw and others say there are good-paying jobs that, with high school level vocational training or an associate’s degree, can pay $70,000 to $80,000. From his perspective, parents are discouraging jobs in manufacturing without realizing the opportunities. 
“The idea that shop class is for the stoners and the stupid kids. That needs to change,” Bagshaw said.
A shortage like this usually results in higher wages, but Norton says that hasn’t happened yet.
“Something will give. Either wages will rise and people will move here because there are good jobs for people to have, or these companies will be forced to go elsewhere. It’s tough to tell which is going to happen,” Norton said.
For his part, Greer says he and others in his industry may be waiting to see if another recession is on the horizon before investing in more competitive wages.
In the meantime companies are doing their best to compete by improving product quality, breaking into new markets, leveraging the benefits of a domestic supply chain and finding new ways to be efficient.
Moving the needle
Right outside Aaron Bagshaw’s office is an antique Victrola made by Victor Talking Machine Company. When the fifth-generation president of W.H. Bagshaw entertains guests, he loves to lift open the top of the boxy, wooden contraption, place the needle over the record, crank the handle and flip on the 1920s foxtrot music. 
The machine’s inner workings, even for its age, are vastly complex, but with great pride Bagshaw will tell his guests about how his company made the tiniest and most important part, the needle itself. 
“We probably shipped hundreds of millions if not billions of these needles and we had our own Bagshaw’s Brilliantone. We owned the name Brilliantone and we had our own little cases,” Bagshaw said. “On the back we’d say, quite smartly, use each needle only once.”
Replacement pins were sold in little tins similar to some breath mint containers. 
This was a popular form of household entertainment in the Roaring Twenties, and during the heyday of the Victrola, W.H. Bagshaw was exporting its needles all across the world.
The company started out in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1870 and relocated to Nashua in 1950. It bought an old mill building that had been vacated by textile company Textron for a very good price. When asked if he would make that decision to move to the state today, Bagshaw couldn’t conceive of setting up anywhere else.
“We have a heritage here, we know the city, we know the people. You take that away and it doesn’t matter where we are,” Bagshaw said. 
The factory floor is a strange mix of old and new technology. On one floor, there’s a row of ancient machines that are used to grind cut and straightened metal wires into a point on one end.
“These machines are 146 years old. This is how we made pins 146 years ago,” Bagshaw said.
And they still use the same machines to this day. But newer technology has helped to expand the products made by W.H. Bagshaw. 
For a long time, Bagshaw would have to turn down requests from engineering firms to make certain custom pins.
“Hell, you’re going to come to the oldest pin manufacturer in America to make your pin. [But] we never had the capability to make much beyond a pointed pin,” Bagshaw said. “I had a stack on my desk of prints that I just kept collecting as opportunities that we couldn’t do. These machines really allowed us to capture that market — some of that market — and allow us to grow and expand with the machine capability.”
About 10 years ago, Bagshaw started buying Swiss CNC machines, which are computer guided machines that move on up to eight axes and can turn out hundreds of products without much human supervision. He has 19 now and they’ve effectively doubled the size of his business.
They help to finish pins that are used in the hinges of .50 caliber and .30 caliber ammo boxes, pins used in aerospace and defense and even the medical field for things like surgery and allergy testing.
Meanwhile, the older machines made simpler pins and needles such as for combs, pins used in the textile industry and the push pins used by world travelers who mark their destinations on big wall maps.
W.H. Bagshaw will sell millions of the tiny pins to National Geographic, which has the plastic heads added later and then sells them to the end users.
But mostly, Bagshaw says, the company makes components for other devices, sometimes high-tech devices.
“We make little parts that make big parts work. Everything we make goes into something. None of this is really an end product,” Bagshaw said.
Bagshaw’s business is like most of the manufacturers that operate in New Hampshire. It’s a small, family-owned company in the largest category of manufacturing (metal fabrication and precision machining), it plays a role in the state’s largest “cluster” in the industry (aerospace and defense) and it’s riding the enduring waves of New Hampshire’s industrial past.
Textile roots
While nearly every textile company that once was so tightly woven into the identity and character of New Hampshire has since left the state, their legacy has a profound impact on present-day manufacturing in the Granite State. The Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. of Manchester, which by the 1920s had grown to become the largest manufacturer in the world, had been all but eviscerated by the Great Depression. The last shoe and apparel makers eventually gave in to competition from the South or abroad by the 1950s.
But around that time a new kind of textile company was coming up in the world. A Swiss electrical engineer by the name of George de Mestral, inspired by how cocklebur flowers stuck to the fabric of his trousers and his dog’s fur, developed the first hook and loop fasteners and founded a business known today as Velcro Companies. The name Velcro was a portmanteau of “velour” and “crochet,” the French words for velvet and hook. Nowadays, many people colloquially refer to hook and loop technology as “Velcro,” but the company’s patent expired in 1972, allowing for competitor knock-offs to enter the market.
Velcro Companies has long been headquartered in Manchester, originally in the old millyard, now on the southern end of downtown on Sundial Avenue. It employs about 750 people in the state.
“It’s close to a 60-year history in New Hampshire,” said Scott Filion, Velcro Companies’ president of the Americas.
The company doubled down on New Hampshire in 2000 by opening a factory in Somersworth and doubled its size in 2009. 
“Pretty much everybody exited the state, went down to the Carolinas, then they went to Mexico, then they eventually went offshore, whereas this company kind of hung tough,” Filion said.
Today, Manchester’s campus provides more of the smaller-batch runs of innovative products along with the bulk of textile production for New England while Somersworth churns out more of the high-volume demand. 
Standing in the newly redesigned red and white lobby of the main building in Manchester, Filion said the company evolved over the years into something more akin to a tech and innovation company. 
“We’ve certainly grown the technology base. And we look at ourselves sort of as a technology company,” Filion said.
Its main product started out mostly in clothes and shoes, and the fasteners even made it all the way to the moon when astronauts in the Apollo missions used them for their clothing and keeping tools from floating away during spacewalk repairs.
“It got a fair amount of notoriety there because, ‘Oh my god, our product went to space!’ Right?” said Filion.
Velcro Companies now has about 400 active patents and has diversified its product offering while still boasting the highest-quality hook and loop products on the market.
It produces hook and loop coins and strips for end users to apply to arts and crafts or organizing things like hoses and wires. The fasteners can still be found in some apparel brands like Land’s End or L.L. Bean, and it’s expanded into U.S. military uniforms and medical devices like ostomy bags, tracheotomy tube holders and sleep apnea devices.
The company developed a non-airtight bag seal technology called “PRESS-LOK” for things like pet food, gardening supplies or rice. Durable fasteners are used to hold disposable ceramic armor plating to the M1A1 Abrams tanks and Filion says there’s a 40-percent chance the seat fabric in your car is held together with Velcro brand technology.
Their fastest-growing product is a non-woven fastener for baby diapers, which is a worldwide business through major brands like Huggies and Pampers. 
“Baby diapers was a monumental, mammoth growth opportunity for us,” Filion said.
And its newest offering is a building block toy system for young children to make things like race cars, trucks and castles that’s being beta tested in the market right now.
Building No. 2 at the Manchester campus is used entirely for research and development, something New Hampshire manufacturers do much more of since high-volume commodity producers and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) relocated to places with cheaper labor, like China.
Economist Steve Norton with the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies says this new focus on R&D and advanced technology production really exploded in the 1980s, when a lot of firms moved up here from Massachusetts. 
“Now, [there was] this change to high-tech, advanced manufacturing where what they’re really doing is producing products all the time and when that product becomes commoditized it goes elsewhere,” Norton said.
Soon after that, by the early 2000s, new manufacturing technology changed the industry again by making it possible to produce more with fewer workers.
In December 2000, New Hampshire had about 104,100 workers in the manufacturing industry, according to New Hampshire Employment Security. In three short years, that number dropped down to about 80,000 and after the recession it dropped again to about 65,000, where it remains today.
And most manufacturers in the state today are small, with seldom more than 50 to 60 employees, according to industry experts.
Velcro Companies is not the only textile company to reinvent itself into more of a technology and innovation company. Warwick Mills in New Ipswich boasts being the first textile mill in New Hampshire. It started out in the early 1800s but the brick building there today was constructed in 1872 after the first two buildings burned down. Today Warwick Mills is a leading producer of all sorts of advanced materials such as Kevlar, and works with several other industrial fibers. They do both prototype and volume production. Right now, the company is working to develop a process for weaving spider silk produced by genetically engineered silk worms. The material is known as Monster Silk and is expected to be more resilient than Kevlar.
The model of high-tech, advanced manufacturing and R&D over high-volume commodity production has proven common in New Hampshire beyond just the legacy textile industry. It’s seen in almost every sector from precision machining to metal fabrication, even at the state’s largest manufacturing employer, BAE Systems in Nashua.
Aerospace & Defense
Today the plurality of manufacturers in New Hampshire find themselves involved in the aerospace and defense industry.
“Today we have more than 325 — believe it or not — manufacturers in New Hampshire that are in aerospace and defense,” said Zenagui Brahim, the president of the MEP.
It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that defense contractor BAE Systems, which makes electronic systems for the U.S. military aircraft, employs the most people of all Granite State manufacturers with about 4,500 employees.
Jeremy Tondreault, vice president of operations at BAE Systems, says they produce electronic self-protection systems for aircraft to defend against radar and RF guided missiles, protection systems from heat-seeking missiles, precision guidance system for missile accuracy and night vision equipment.
“I’d say a typical product for us is somewhere between 50 to 80 percent subcontracted. So, we do a lot of supply chain management, a lot of partnering with businesses around the world but also certainly businesses, a lot, in New Hampshire,” Tondreault said.
He said BAE works with about 200 local subcontractors. 
“We do about $90 million a year with suppliers in New Hampshire,” Tondreault said.
The company is in a period of significant growth. Tondreault said BAE has plans to hire about 300 more people over the next three or four years to ramp up production for existing contracts.
While, like many manufacturers, BAE has invested in some automation over the years, they still need a lot of skilled labor because of the company’s focus on cutting-edge technology.
“That maybe counterbalances the effects of automation a little bit because we’re getting into new technologies, there’s a lot of sort of new inventions that we’re doing a lot,” Tondreault said. “No one’s found a way to automate invention yet.”
Two years ago, industry stakeholders and advocates formed the New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium in an effort to bring various manufacturers to the table so they can learn from one another, get integrated into new supply chains and join forces on trade missions abroad. Brahim currently serves as the chairman of NHADEC.
“The goal is to position New hampshire as the place to do business in aerospace and defense. That’s the bottom line,” Brahim said.
The consortium hosted its first conference last year at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and has scheduled its second conference to take place at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on June 1.
Tondreault says contracting for the Pentagon, often to develop secret technologies, somewhat protects companies like BAE from global competition since it would be against the rules, and common sense, to outsource defense projects to companies in places like China, which is one reason why the aerospace and defense industry is such a lucrative domestic market for manufacturers big and small. Work with commercial airlines and drones is also a growth market.
And now that the space shuttling and tourism companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are working to create a thriving private space industry, manufacturers already positioned to build parts for advanced aircraft can easily pivot to make parts for rockets and shuttles.
Metal fabrication
Some of the largest companies in the state have a hand in making metal parts for larger systems. In fact, the third and fourth largest companies play a significant role in that sector. New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc., which employs about 1,250 people with locations in Peterborough and Laconia, makes nearly a dozen different types of ball bearings, most of which are used in commercial and military aircraft. Other producers of bearings in the state include Timken Aerospace in Lebanon and Keene.
Hypertherm Inc. in Hanover, meanwhile, employs 1,100 people. The company doesn’t so much fabricate metal parts directly. But they play a very significant role in that process by producing the plasma cutting equipment often used for anything from light fabrication and regular maintenance to high-volume metal cutting.
The devices vary in size from small, handheld torches to large automated machines.
But most of the metal fabricators, which can involve investment casting (molding certain alloys into shapes around a wax pattern), cutting, molding, grinding, bending and more, are small companies like W.H. Bagshaw or Wire Belt Company.
Wire Belt Company in Londonderry near the Manchester airport employs fewer than 100 people producing the metal mesh used in conveyor belts for food processors and even those small bagel toasters with built-in conveyors. 
CEO David Greer says Wire Belt was one of those companies that moved up to New Hampshire from Massachusetts in the 1980s. And he says they also make the machines used in making wire belts. 
“The roots of the company are in engineering design, machine design etc., so we design and build all our own equipment,” Greer said. “We have a decent-sized engineering staff here where we do just that and continuous improvement into our machinery and our processes here.”
On the factory floor, long straight stainless steel wires are fed through machines that bend and curve the wires and often human operators are needed to connect wires together to make a complete belt. 
“A lot of our sales are for replacements because the belts wear out or tangle up etc.,” Greer said.
He said he’s in a mature industry so he doesn’t need to worry about rapid growth and when a recession hits, it doesn’t immediately affect Wire Belt because food processors need to keep their machines maintained, but they may not invest in new machines that require new belts.
Greer, a fourth-generation owner, says the company was founded in 1919 as the J.W. Greer Company. It had its start with machines that created chocolate confections and changed its focus to wire belts in 1947. Two years ago, they expanded their Londonderry plant to add 25 percent more space. Greer also has locations in the United Kingdom and Germany, though New Hampshire is the biggest.
Most of the innovation Wire Belt works on involves creating new, experimental kinds of belts, but also working on new equipment and processes to improve the manufacturing operation itself.
Some fabricators, like RAPID in Nashua, focus on quick turnaround prototype creation, for products made from sheet metal, wire cables and machined parts for the aerospace and defense industry. On April 4, RAPID announced the company’s long relationship with Lockheed Martin culminated into getting listed on Lockheed’s approved vendor list. RAPID employs about 325 people.
A larger metal fabricator with about 650 employees in Milford, Hitchiner Manufacturing Co. produces parts used in automobiles via its ferrous investment casting operation. The company boasts being a high-volume producer of metal parts used in cars produced by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen. They also make parts used by the military and parts for commercial diesel engines.
PCC Structurals in Tilton and Uni-Cast in Londonderry make aluminum investment castings for military and commercial aerospace applications.
Other sectors
Some other common manufacturers in the state produce advanced electronics that require a more delicate touch, like Benchmark Electronics and Amphenol Printed Circuits, both in Nashua, Janco Electronics in Rollinsford and Texas Instruments in Manchester. 
Though Osram Sylvania closed its Manchester facility in recent years, it’s still the fifth largest manufacturer in the state, with about 1,060 workers in Hillsborough. Osram makes incandescent, halogen, neon and H10 light bulbs for use in consumer products, automobiles, airplanes, the electrical industry and beyond.
And BAE Systems is not the only local producer of night vision technology. L-3 Warrior Systems in Londonderry makes military-grade night vision and infrared goggles, night vision gun scopes and holographic gun sights.
And if you want a gun to go with your gun sight, look no further than two major gun factories in the state for Sig Sauer Inc. (in Newington) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (in Newport). They are the sixth and seventh largest manufacturers in the state.
Sig Sauer moved its headquarters to New Hampshire in 1992, where it started making its P229, a handgun popular in law enforcement that shoots 9mm bullets.
Ruger makes a number of handguns, revolvers, rifles and gun accessories.
Other companies of note include Lonza Biologics Inc. in Portsmouth, which produces high volumes of biochemical medicines like monoclonal antibodies, or Westinghouse Electric Co. in Newington, which makes pumps for nuclear reactors and cylinders for spent nuclear fuel.
Even organic yogurt producers are considered an important part of the manufacturing industry in New Hampshire. Yogurt producer Stonyfield Farm Inc. in Londonderry employs about 400 and makes certified organic yogurt and supports small family farms in the process. 
Lindt & Sprungli in Stratham manufactures premium chocolate for retail and wholesale at a plant that employs about 465; there’s a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Bedford and one of Anheuser-Busch’s 12 breweries in Merrimack.
There are even a couple food processors that buy their wire belts from Wire Belt Company, such as High Liner Foods USA Inc. in Portsmouth, which processes frozen seafood. Another is Rustic Crust in Pittsfield, which makes pizza crust, flatbreads and pizza sauce.
Why NH?
While folks like Aaron Bagshaw have difficulty imagining setting up shop in a state other than New Hampshire, given his company’s long history here, even he concedes that younger companies may not see it that way.
“If I was a five-year-old company, I’d probably be in the Carolinas. But having so many roots embedded here for so long, I can’t see being anywhere else,” Bagshaw said. “If I’m coming out of college and I’m an entrepreneur and I’m thinking about where I want to be, maybe it’s not here.”
That said, he thinks the state’s most valuable asset is its small size — to get access to state resources like a Small Business Administration loan or a Small Business Development Center counselor, he wouldn’t have long to wait or far to travel.
“If we were in California, we’d be lost,” Bagshaw said. “[Here], we’re a phone call away and a 30-minute drive to all the resources we need as a business and that’s really what makes New Hampshire special to me.”
For David Greer at Wire Belt Company, it’s the quality of life, the easy access to transportation infrastructure like the Manchester airport and the environment.
“New Hampshire has it all. You’ve got the mountains, the ocean, the beaches, we’re close to Boston … it’s got it all,” Greer said.
But the friendly tax structure that attracted his company from Massachusetts in the ’80s has gotten less friendly, he said. If he were to increase the size of his business significantly, he’d have to make a difficult choice.
“Worst-case scenario we would start another location and it wouldn’t be in New Hampshire,” Greer said. “North Carolina makes a big push, Texas makes a big push.”
North Carolina in particular comes up a lot when local manufacturers are asked where they’d likely locate a businesses. In fact, Sturm, Ruger recently opened a second plant in Mayodan, North Carolina, when it expanded to meet growing demand, its first major expansion in 25 years. Economist Steve Norton says that’s part of a growing trend.
“You hear anecdotally … that companies that are here and have a strong presence here can’t stay here because they just can’t get the people they need to do the basic things for their existing product,” Norton said. 

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