Salute to Business Highlights Additive Manufacturing Achievements

NILES, Ohio – Advances in additive manufacturing have allowed the U.S. military to address equipment issues more efficiently, thereby improving response times and readiness, a retired general told members of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

“The Marine Corps several years ago brought additive manufacturing to its field maintenance units so they could quickly produce repair parts,” Gen. Michael Brogan (Ret.) said.

Additive manufacturing has also been integrated into U.S. naval operations, he said, which enables ships to produce components during maneuvers at sea instead of pulling into a port and await repairs.

The general served as the keynote speaker at the chamber’s annual Salute to Business event held at the Eastwood Events Center.

Gen. Michael Brogan (Ret.) was the keynote speaker at the Salute to Business event.

Gen. Brogan, who served 31 years in the Marines, believes additive manufacturing technology could be used effectively to provide solutions to major military logistics and supply chain problems.

“What we’re seeing now is an increase of on-shoring,” he said. “We need multiple vendors, multiple ways to get the repair parts, and that’s where additive manufacturing can come in.”

Youngstown has become a central hub for additive manufacturing since America Makes, the pilot institute, was formed 10 years ago. The organization focuses on promoting the use of 3D printing and developing new materials and technology to advance its adoption in the manufacturing sector.

Brogan said that it can be challenging to secure military parts since some components used in military equipment in use today were often fabricated or produced by smaller companies that supplied prime contractors to the defense industry.

When production of these particular defense systems ceased, some these subcontractors went out of business, Brogan said. Thus, they are unable to provide replacement parts should a problem occur.

Additive manufacturing helps to solve this, Brogan noted. “Being able to reverse engineer and remake those is an absolute necessary capability,” he said.

Moreover, the general emphasized that adding depth to the supply chain is also critical to the country’s national security, since reliance on a single supplier brings with it great risks.

He also gave some advice to business and community leaders about the prospects of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, today the largest employer in Trumbull County and the third largest in the Mahoning Valley.

“Your local congressman [U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13] has been active in getting authorization language for some C-130Js sent here for the unique mission,” he said.

The Department of Defense has not made a final decision on where the new C-130Js would be stationed.

“I encourage you to listen to the public pronouncements that come from [United States Secretary of the Air Force] Frank Kendall, from Gen. C.Q. Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force,” Brogan said. “Understand what it is they want to do, what their priorities are, and look for ways you could help this base integrate to accomplish those missions. That will help bring funds to the air base.”

Youngstown/Warren Chamber President and CEO Guy Coviello said Gen. Brogan provided some valuable insight on how to this region could contribute to the country’s military.

“One thing he gave us some very helpful advice on is how to protect the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, which we will do in partnership with the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission,” he said.

Coviello said the sold-out event drew more than 350 attendees representing businesses and organizations throughout the Mahoning Valley.

“Glad to see the community continues to come together to these business-to-business networking events, and recognizing some of our best businesses.”

This year, the Chamber presented awards to six members of the business, nonprofit and labor community for their efforts over the past year.

Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki and Richard Bernacki, co-owners of Penguin City Brewing Co., received the Entrepreneurs of the Year Award for their efforts to renovate a 32,000-square-foot industrial warehouse into a modern, eclectic brewery and taproom in downtown Youngstown.

“We are big promoters of downtown Youngstown and want to be part of its revitalization,” Lyras-Bernacki said in a video. “It’s kind of unreal that this is actually happening.”

She and her husband could not attend the awards ceremony Thursday. Still, “it was tearful” upon learning they had won the honor. “It’s a lot of work. I give it to people who want to start a business, you give up a lot for your passion.”

Traci Miller, president of Color3 Embroidery Inc. in Warren, was presented with the Business Professional of the Year award.

“I’m completely shocked and appreciative of the award and to be acknowledged by your peers,” she said.

The company has been in business 27 years, and performs embroidery, screen printing, and other decorative application services for apparel in the retail and private label market, she said.

This year, the company expanded from a 12,000-square-foot space and relocated to a 43,000-square-foot building to accommodate its growing business.

“We have a couple of contracts that are allowing us that opportunity, and we’re really excited to expand and grow,” she said.

Nancy Weibel, business manager for Roofers Local 71, said that she is both humbled and surprised over receiving the Chamber’s Salute to Labor Achievement Award this year.

Weibel is the first female business manager for Local 71. “I’m very humbled. You just go out during the day and do your job, and people appreciate it.”

Local 71 is very busy at the moment, as signatory contractors have business booked well into the next year. Roofers, she added, “have the hard jobs. We are extremely busy.”

The Nonprofit Professional of the Year Award went to Jeff Magada, founder and executive director of Flying High Inc.

“I’m honored,” he said. “I’m grateful to all of the people who helped Flying High along the years to get to where we are.”

The nonprofit has emerged as a multi-service community organization that administers workforce development and training, education, neighborhood improvement initiatives, healthy foods programs, and other services through various partnerships across the Valley, Magada said.

“This year has been tremendous with the partnerships that we’ve built with other community agencies,” he said. “We’re very proud of the Mobile Market and our partnership with Action, and also the opening of our Access Healthy Foods at the Mahoning County Campus of Care.”

He also said that the organization would expand its presence in Trumbull County over the next year.

Ron and Cecilia Bolar, owners of a Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise in Boardman, were honored with the Chamber’s Small Business Professionals of the Year Award.

Last year, the Bolars pulled up stakes and relocated from Dallas to the Mahoning Valley to start their cake bakery business.

“We’re very grateful and humbled,” Ron Bolar said of the recognition. He said the couple decided to locate its first bakery in the Youngstown area because he had done business here before, had friends in the region and there was a franchise opportunity.

“We liked the area, moved across the country and opened our bakery about a year ago and it’s been just great,” Bolar said.

A second location in Niles should be open in either April or May of next year, he said.

The Chamber’s Business Advocate of the Year honor was awarded to Vern Richberg, founder and owner of Micro Solo Digital and a business counselor for the Minority Business Assistance Center at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

“It came as a huge surprise,” he said. “I’m grateful for it.”

Richberg said the work the MBAC has done over the last several years extends over a seven-county area from Ashtabula in the north to Monroe County in the southeastern part of Ohio.

“We’re helping small businesses, in particular, minority businesses, women-owned businesses, and being a veteran myself, it’s very close to my heart to work with veteran-owned businesses,” he said.

MBAC has helped connect people in the Mahoning Valley with opportunities, assisting businesses in securing access to capital, among other assistance services.

“Many people in the area have been very instrumental in helping in the work that I do,” Richberg said.

From left: Vern Richberg, founder/owner of Micro Solo Digital; Jeff Magada, founder and executive director of Flying High Inc.; Nancy Weibel, business manager, Roofers Local 71; Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber; Cecilia and Ron Bolar, owners of Nothing Bundt Cakes; and Traci Miller, president Color3 Embroidery Inc.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.