DAYTONA BEACH — A wide array of manufacturers, ranging from makers of boats and robotic packaging systems to suncare lotions and disposable medical products, were on display at the Ocean Center on Friday.
The occasion was the 10th annual VMA Manufacturers Showcase, which this year featured nearly 80 exhibitors from throughout the Volusia-Flagler area as well as some from neighboring counties.
"We make it here," said Jayne Fifer, the president and CEO of the Ormond Beach-based VMA manufacturing alliance, quoting her group's slogan.
The event drew roughly 1,000 people, who turned out to learn about local manufacturers as well as to cheer on robotics teams from several area high schools, as well as, for the first time, an elementary school who took part in a battle of "sumobots."
Fifer said she was especially pleased to see how engaged the students attending the showcase were. One of the VMA's goals is encouraging young people to consider careers in manufacturing.
"The kids were so into it," she said.
The robotics competition was won by a team from DeLand High School.
The youngest contestants were a team of sixth graders from Palm Coast's Wadsworth Elementary, coached by teacher Martin Evans, who heads the school's STEM Academy.
The event also featured a student art show competition involving entries made with a 3D printer, where a team from Edgewater Public School took first place honors, and a CNC art show, featuring pieces made with machining tools. The latter was won by the brother-sister team of Bobby and Ashley Kayat, who both work for their famiy's New Smyrna Beach manufacturing company Advanced Machining. Their entry was a metal lobster.
Their father, Bob Kayat, the president of Advanced Machining, said his company has taken part in the Manufacturers Showcase every year since its inception.
"It's a good way for everybody (in the local manufacturing community) to keep connected," he said.