MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – Some of the best and top-rated companies that call Alabama home are being recognized in the State Capitol.
October is Manufacturing Month in Alabama and 12 Alabama-owned businesses received the honor as a Made in Alabama Showcase Honoree.
“Manufacturers add some $38.4 billion to our economy every year. And there are more than 266,000 people employed in manufacturing,” said Gov. Kay Ivey at the event held in the State Capitol.
The 12 companies selected represent a wide range of industries from food to construction.
David Steel is co-owner of Monroe Sausage from Monroeville.
“I live in the house my great-grandmother lived in. And to come back, do something that grows the economy, provides jobs and gives us opportunities,” Steele said.
For many of these business owners, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge. John Emerald Distilling of Opelika shifted its focus from spirits to hand sanitizers.
“Just a blessing to be helpful in our community and really, pretty far and wide, we have supplied a lot of hospitals, and lots of fire departments and school systems,” said co-founder Jimmy Sharp.
One thing many of the honorees say they have in common is taking the lessons learned in the past 18 months and using them to propel their businesses forward.
And, in the case of Eleven86 Real Artesian Water from Autaugaville, innovate.
“Alabama has a stigmatism, and we’re here to change that. Because there is no stigmatism about what we’re doing. We can compete with the best. We can compete with any other 49 states. And we can come out on top,” said co-founder Marquise Forge.
Here’s a list of all the honorees at this year’s event.
- Monroe Sausage is as rich in history as it is in flavor. The original company became a household name in Monroe County, Alabama in the late 40s when they threw sausage biscuits from their float during the annual Monroeville Hog Festival. The company was eventually sold to partners who then set out to make “the best sausage anyone had ever tasted.” They spent months working on the recipe and experimenting with spices and seasonings. After Hurricane Ivan destroyed the factory and halted production, a new facility was built in Beatrice and revived their company. Now, the legendary Hickory Smoked Monroe Sausage can be found in most grocery stores.
- Vulcan, Inc. is an employee owned company located near the Alabama Gulf Coast in Foley. It began as a small sign manufacturer in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1935 and has continued growing for over 80 years. Vulcan Aluminum Mill produces aluminum coils and sheet and sells into automotive, transportation, truck trailer, construction and irrigation markets to name a few. Vulcan Aluminum produces traffic sign blanks. Vulcan Signs takes the aluminum sign blanks and produces finished traffic signs such as stop signs, speed limit signs, street name signs, etc. and sells these finished signs throughout the state to smaller cities and counties that do not have sign shops like the larger cities.
- Dean’s Cake House Since her days of working in the deli of a local grocery store, Dean Jacobs dreamed of opening her own bakery. At age 60 in August 1994, Dean introduced her own cake recipes to her small community in Andalusia, Alabama at Dean’s Cake House. Soon after the doors opened, it was obvious these sweet treats weren’t meant for just locals but for a much larger audience. Dean’s Cake House has now provided sweet treats throughout the Deep South for many years. She and her staff bake over 300 cakes per day, and the products are currently distributed through three well established Alabama warehouses. Her local bakery is still an exciting tourist attraction with hundreds of visitors from all over the country dropping in to see and smell her delicious recipes come to life.
- John Emerald Distilling is a small batch craft distillery located in downtown Opelika. They offer tours, cocktails, and bottle sales in house as well as distribute their spirits throughout Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, New York, California, Colorado and Illinois. From the original three Sharp brothers who ventured to America from Scotland to the namesake of the company, John Emerald Sharp, the sharps have lived lives of integrity: honoring God, their fellow man and their family. When it came time to name their distillery, the idea to honor their forefathers in name and spirit rang true.
- SHOWA Group became invaluable when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. PPE was the utmost of importance for essential workers, and Fayette became a perfect fit for the nation’s only domestic producer of nitrile gloves. For almost 50 years, the Fayette facility has contributed to Alabama’s economy. Right before the pandemic hit, SHOWA announced its expansion, with the goal of employing 400 workers. Show-a glove is an Alabama made product directly aiding in the fight against COVID-19.
- SouthFresh Feeds is located in Demopolis Alabama, with the corporate office being located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They manufacture animal feeds for fish, cattle, deer and horses. They employ more than 30 people and have been in business since 1992.
- Kith Kitchens is located in Haleyville and began in 1998 as a family-owned business with a dedication to integrity and relationships. With 23 years of experience, 710 dedicated employees, and over 175,000 completed projects, Kith Kitchens continues to be a leading provider in the kitchen, bath and office cabinetry industry. Integrity has remained their backbone as they supply exceptional cabinetry while combining service, design, quality, and craftsmanship. Over the last 20 years, Kith Kitchens has grown to become one of the largest cabinet manufacturers in the country.
- Zone Protects is located in Decatur and was born out of a mission to help and protect people. When the founder, Brian Baer, saw his friend’s family dog digging and wreaking havoc in their flowerbeds, he set out to help. Brian worked to create a safe, effective and all-natural animal repellent and that is how Zone No Holes! began. They also sell insect repellants. Expanding their mission to help people, the ZONE Protects line of sanitizers and disinfectants was developed in 2020 to respond to the growing need of protective products at the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
- Eleven86 Real Artesian Water Real Artesian Water has been in the making since the beginning of time. They take pride in knowing that by offering some of the purest water in the world that they are also able to give back to the community. The source for Eleven86 Real Artesian Water comes from the small densely populated town of Autaugaville, located in central Alabama. Deep under many layers of rock and earth lies an aquifer, that has been protected from the surface contaminants and pollutants, only to be reached by a well.
- Alabama Sawyer is run by its founders, Cliff Spencer and Leigh Spencer. They design modern, environmentally sustainable products from fallen trees in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Since its founding, they have diverted hundreds of logs from the landfill by transforming them into award-winning furniture and products for homes and businesses.
- American Cast Iron Pipe Company manufactures ductile iron and steel pipe, safely delivering water to the homes of Americans right from Birmingham, Ala. ACIPCO gives back to their communities thru planning neighborhood gardens, charity walk/runs and teaching students, the future workforce about entrepreneurship. The company’s golden rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated. They treat their employees as family, even having third and fourth generation employees.
- Henry Brick Company (Selma, Ala.) was founded by J.D. Henry in 1945 with one goal in mind: to take the rich clay of central Alabama and produce brick of unmatched beauty and unsurpassed quality. For over sixty-five years, family-owned Henry Brick has defined the brick maker’s art, and its uniquely beautiful product line is renowned throughout the Southern, Eastern and Midwestern United States.