VMA’s 37th Annual Awards Banquet

…A Storytelling Extravaganza!

By Jayne Fifer


Everyday people get up and go to work in big buildings around town. Some of the buildings have signs, some don’t. What goes on behind closed doors? Who are these people? Chances are they are manufacturers.  Making things that make our lives better. Working hard, so hard, that there is no time to tell their stories.

Every year these manufacturers get together to celebrate the people and companies who they selected for the inspiring and creative things they do. Their organization, the Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA) that they founded in 1980, coordinates their Annual Awards Banquet. On December 7, 2017 at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, they recognized nine of their own for amazing products, ideas, grit, best practices, exporting around the world, dedication, support and lifetime achievement.

Here are their stories:


For years, Patrick Sullivan, Director of Sales, Homewood Suites, has been driving around town wondering what went on in the big buildings he saw. He learned they were manufacturers. He wanted to know what they did.  He figured if he wanted to know so did other people.  Kyra Woodward, his General Manager and he came up with an idea for the manufacturers to tell their stories.  They used some of their sponsorship dollars to buy advertising and time on WNDB, the local radio station.

Every month a different manufacturer interviews with Wes Dunn, Dunn’s Attic, on the “Business Buzz” show.  They talk about their companies, products, jobs and career path.   This radio show is part of the VMA “We Make It Here” Awareness campaign.  Every morning on WNDB during morning drive time, the announcers do a VMA commercial about current events and mission.  All of this because of Patrick’s curiosity and Homewood Suites generosity.

For this VMA presented to Homewood Suites the 2017 Friend of Industry Award for the Service Partner member because they truly have done the most to further the interests of manufacturing and the VMA.

Kyra Woodward and Patrick Sullivan


Ken Brace, Rapid Prototyping Services in Satellite Beach, is the 2017 Karl Schiller Member of the Year. He said, “Before joining VMA I thought Volusia was only beaches and racetracks. The number manufacturers surprised me.  I belong to a lot of other organizations that support manufacturing in the state, but VMA has been much better than all of them.  Due to my partnership with VMA, I have been able to grow my business and make some large capital investments.”  The VMA Member of the Year Award recognizes the manufacturer member who has made the most significant contribution to the success of VMA.  Ken Brace epitomizes the active VMA member. He maximizes his membership, sponsors events and tells everyone about us!





VMA is committed to developing a skilled talent pipeline with its massive “We Make It Here” Awareness Campaign.  VMA tells people there are great careers in manufacturing, but it is the teachers on the frontlines that train our future.   Each year VMA recognizes the individual who contributed most to building awareness of the career opportunities in manufacturing with the 6-26-year-old age group.

This year Jim Maynard, Pine Ridge High School Advanced Manufacturing Academy was named the 2017 “We Make It Here!” Education Champion.

Jim has been around manufacturing his whole life.  He grew up in his family’s custom hot rod and bike shop.  After having a family, he went back to school for CAD/CAM design and machining at Daytona State College. He was teaching before he graduated, became an adjunct professor for a couple of years, and ran training programs for manufacturers.

Three years ago, he was tapped to start the Advanced Manufacturing Academy at Pine Ridge High School where they turned the old wood shop into an advanced machining and robotics fabrication facility. It offers the most comprehensive training in a Volusia County high school. It has CNC machining and robotics, metal fabrication, welding, hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, and PLC programming. It covers the gamut of student interests from low-tech hammer and saw to engineering and design to robotic programming.

Jim is instilling a strong work ethic, the ability to be self-directed and problem-solving skills in his students. His students are engaged in practical applications. They built an electric car and competed across the country because he went after and was awarded the only Siemans Green PowerUSA Racing league grant in the state of Florida.

In the summer of 2017, the program expanded bringing in two new Haas CNC machines, a full-size lathe and three axis mills.  He added two innovative programs – building a custom motorcycle and building hot rods to compete with seventeen schools in the Charlotte STEAM program.  He is truly “Making” a difference.

Here is product that you can see on I-4 – the volcano at the Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park.  But did you know Fabco Metal Products LLC in a building with no name on it, built it?  They have been involved with eight projects in the reconstruction of Disney Springs over the past two years and some exciting local projects - the Bass Pro Shop on International Speedway Blvd., Tanger Outlets on LPGA and two large projects at ERAU – the student union and the aerospace engineering building.

Such achievement deserves its own award, so for the first time VMA presented the “We Make It Here!” Amazing Product Award to Fabco, the manufacturer who has been instrumental in making a recognizable product that brings inspiration and fun into people’s lives.

The exciting news continues, Shane King, president, said “Fabco, a structural steel fabrication company in business in Daytona Beach since 1983, is currently adding 25,000 sq. ft. to its production facility, expects to increase its capacity at a minimum of 25% and employ over 100 people.”  And the stories keep coming!

Shane King



VMA presents Best Practice Awards to manufacturers that demonstrate excellence with innovative or exemplary programs.  The two companies recognized this year found creative solutions to the serious challenges they faced.

What do you do when your industry takes a serious downturn?  If you are Teledyne Marine, whose major market is oil & gas, you become very innovative and lean your operations. Teledyne also understood their customers needed cost savings. Their employees in every department from Accounting to Maintenance suggested ways to lower costs for the business, so they could pass the cost savings to their customers to help them survive the tough market. In addition, Teledyne’s customers sought new products to help them lower their cost of operations in offshore oil fields. In response, the New Product Development team designed the Active Flying Lead products that would allow oil operators to streamline their underwater interconnect systems, saving customers hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment that was no longer necessary.

It is for this effort Teledyne Marine is recognized with the 2017 Best Practice Award for Innovation, which is ingrained in their culture and processes. Their workforce has gained a reputation among the industry as taking on tough challenges and coming up with smart, original solutions for its customers.

Other great news, Mike Read, president/CEO, is proud to announce they are moving an entire company, Corman Corrosion Monitoring, from the United Kingdom to the Daytona Beach facility in early 2018.



Sparton      Best Practice for Food Pantry

What do you do when you find out some of your temp employees are living in their cars or a boyfriend has taken off with the food money stranding an employee and her children with nothing to eat until the next payday?  You put your heads together, build a Sparton  Community Food Pantry and distribute food and supplies to keep everyone’s integrity in tact.

The HR department houses the Food Pantry.  Employees make food and cash donations. HR holds monthly raffles like “Private Parking Spaces of the Month” to create additional cash for the Pantry.

When Hurricane Irma hit, they were able to help their employees with no electricity and in need of water, food and supplies because they had this system in place.   Sparton was recognized as the 2017 Best Practice for this exemplary program. The Sparton employees know the company truly cares for them and their families and values their service and dedication  the building sonobuoys for our Nation.



Guernsey Architectural Solutions, Inc. opened its doors in 2007 in DeLand. They are another company with no name on their building.  They fabricate and install architectural metal wall systems on embassies, hospitals, airports and have done corporate ID work in the southeastern US, Caribbean, South America and abroad.

Their products are on US embassies in Finland, Swaziland, Jordan and Surinam; on a four-story bank in Guyana; and on buildings in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St Lucia, Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico.  They have grown to 45 employees and have offices in Tampa and Concord, NC.  Guernsey Architectural Solutions, Inc. was selected the 2017 Exporter of the Year because they demonstrated outstanding export performance.  This award was established by the partnership of the Volusia County Economic Development Department and the VMA.

Todd Sweitzer and Justin Johnston


The VMA Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented to the individual who shows what it takes to build and sustain a thriving enterprise.   Stephen Dougherty, Dougherty Manufacturing, is the standard for this recognition.  His grit, determination and creativity took him from nothing to where he is now.

“I really like what I am doing here. I get out of bed every morning, go into my toy shop to design, build, and create new things - doing things that no one has ever done before.  Everyday is a new challenge to solve new problems and build it better.  That’s what we do here.” Stephen Dougherty, Dougherty Manufacturing, VMA’s Entrepreneur of the Year

 Stephen Dougherty had been in boat manufacturing his whole life.  Five years ago he sold his business.  He and his wife, Sarah, started over.  Today, they are located on a 16-acre parcel with 200,000 sq. ft. They achieved growth by reinvesting every dime of profits into the business and their people. Their customers range from the guy-off-the-street to worldwide company who specialize in anything from theme parks to environmental water mitigation.

They have almost 100 employees, their goal is increase that number to  300 in the next two years. Their team consists of specialists in all areas giving them the ability to do anything in fiberglass, metal, engineering and design.  They have attracted a lot of theme park work because they do projects no one else can. For the last two years, they have been immersed in the theme park world.  Designing and manufacturing entire ride systems and vehicles for Disney, Universal, Six Flags and Oceaneering.  In addition,  they are passionate about training and educating a workforce and are deeply involved in that development in Southeast Volusia county.

Bill Crooms, Thompson Pump and Manufacturing Company, Inc. was presented with the VMA Hall of Fame “Manny” Award for lifetime achievement in manufacturing.

Everywhere you look around our area, you can see a blue Thompson Pump.  Bill Crooms has seen them all over the world.  Forty years ago, he graduated from the Diesel Technology program at what is now Daytona State College at the top of his class.  He immediately joined Thompson Pump Company as a production mechanic / technician. Today he is their International Service Manager.

Bill has been described as a true Ambassador, not only for Thompson Pump, but also for the USA. He trained Thompson customers on the proper use, operation, maintenance, trouble-shooting and repair of products at customer locations across the globe including North, South and Central America, Africa, Asia & Europe. Over the course of his career, Bill has acted as the primary point of contact for product s

upport to their distributors, branches and end users.He is a person who is maximizing his potential. He is curious and keeps on learning.

Bill shares his time and talent in the community. He is involved in building homes for Habitat for Humanity. He has been a Bronze Member of the United Way President’s Club, a supporter of the American Red Cross Blood Drives, the Toys for Tots campaign and his church’s Back to School Supplies distribution programs.


Bill Thompson, CEO, Thompson Pump, said, “In my 40+ years of working with Bill, I have observed first-hand how much people from all walks of life like him. More importantly, they respect him. They respect his leadership, his knowledge, his patience, his perseverance, his sense of humor and his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

About VMA:

Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA) serves the Flagler, Volusia, and surrounding counties. It is the region’s #1 resource for manufacturers connecting them to each other and the community. Founded in 1980 by manufacturers for manufacturers, its purpose then and now is to provide information, education and networking opportunities that help its members grow and succeed.  Go to www.VMAonline.com to learn more.

Jayne Fifer, President/CEO, VMA. She is considered the voice of Florida manufacturers in Flagler and Volusia counties. For more information contact her at 386.212.4003 or [email protected].