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Video: Heroes of American Manufacturing – ZAGO Manufacturing

ZAGO manufacturing
Credit: NIST MEP

ZAGO Manufacturing is an award-winning, woman-owned business that began in 1993 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Enterprise Development Center small business incubator. Now it’s one of the world’s largest and most respected producers of custom, high-tech, clean and inherently green sealing solutions and components.

Thousands of engineers and onsite equipment manufacturers rely on ZAGO self-sealing fasteners and switch boots. ZAGO’s components are used across 100 different industries including aerospace, automotive and transportation, commercial LED lighting, medicine, robotics and drones, energy and electronics.

A new video in the Heroes of American Manufacturing series features ZAGO. “What makes our company unique is that we are a sustainable company creating a product that makes other companies more sustainable,” says Gail Friedberg Rottenstrich, co-founder and CEO of ZAGO. In addition, ZAGO takes pride in practicing what it preaches – operating from a 100-year-old refurbished factory in Newark, New Jersey. The company is implementing lean manufacturing processes, incorporating automated production, and installing a 50-kW solar panel array on its rooftop.

The bigger part is investing in the people

“It’s not just making the fasteners, that’s one part of what we do here. The bigger part of that is the people, nurturing the people, educating the people, and making sure that they have a future.”

– ZAGO Vice President Jackie Luciano

ZAGO, a client of New Jersey MEP (NJMEP), invests in its community and workforce through education and professional development to recruit, nurture and retain top tier talent. Prioritizing diversity and education, the company created ZAGO Sustainability 360°, which offers scholarships, internships, apprenticeships and professional development.

The company pays 100% tuition for employees pursuing advanced degrees. ZAGO has also been recognized by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey with the Companies That Care Award for its work advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and manufacturing to students in low-income communities.

“ZAGO goes above and beyond and is willing to invest in its workforce. Whether it is a training program for a new hire or investing in employees who are working with them already, ZAGO encourages them to continue forward with their career path,” says New Jersey MEP Marketing and Communications Manager Michael Womack.

Continuous improvement and automation, with help from New Jersey MEP

With the heart of a startup, ZAGO is always looking to improve when it comes to automation and process flow. “Every step that we’ve taken where we’ve needed advice, every big change that we’ve made, we’ve done it with the support of NJMEP,” says Rottenstrich. The company turned to NJMEP for help with accelerating its transformation from a manual operator business to an automated robotic business. NJMEP also provided critical help in training the company’s workforce and helping ZAGO become more efficient.

Workforce development, sustainability, continuous improvement, automation – this is what makes ZAGO a hero of American manufacturing. “We are honored to be recognized by NIST MEP as an example of American manufacturing at its best,” says Harvey Rottenstrich, ZAGO co-founder, president and lead engineer.

Heroes of American Manufacturing Video Series

The Heroes of American Manufacturing video series attempts to capture the hearts and minds of the public and celebrate the small and medium-sized manufacturers succeeding in the U.S. with the help of their local MEP Centers. We want to shine a spotlight on what’s happening in plants across the country, the leaders and workers who are making things that improve our daily life, and the jobs and contributions these manufacturers provide their communities and the nation’s economy. Heroes videos also showcase the relationship between the MEP Center and client manufacturer – helping to tell the story of the MEP National Network™, a unique public-private partnership that includes MEP Centers in every state and Puerto Rico. With more than 1,400 trusted advisors and experts at approximately 450 MEP service locations, the Network can provide any U.S. manufacturer with access to resources it needs to succeed. The MEP National Network can help your company become a hero of American manufacturing!

About the author

Katie Rapp

Katie Rapp is a writer/editor for NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership where she helps NIST MEP staff use plain language so their readers can understand what they write the first time they read it. Before that, she was a librarian at the NIST Research Library where she learned and wrote about many cool NIST history stories.

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