Manufacturing Champions

manufacturing champion award

Each year the Council of Industry recognizes individuals and organizations in the Hudson Valley who, through vision, dedication, hard work and tireless involvement have helped to overcome some of the many obstacles faced by manufacturers in the Hudson Valley and in so doing have made it possible for manufacturers and their employees to prosper.

Award Winners:


Robb Engle, Vice President Engineering, Sono-Tek Corporation
Meghan Taylor, Director Mid-Hudson Region, Empire State Development Corporation
Workforce Development Institute (WDI)
Bryan Van Vliet,
Saugerties High School Technology Teacher     

The 2019 Manufacturing Champions

  • Private Sector Champion: Robb Engle, Vice President Engineering, Sono-Tek Corporation, a longtime employee and leader at Sono-Tek Corporation, Robb has recently been at the forefront of implanting an automated, software driven system that autonomously creates and prioritizes work orders for every work station on the manufacturing floor. In addition, Robb has spent many years volunteering his time at SUNY New Paltz, Marlboro, and other local High schools and with the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy. Rob has been a mentor to the next generation workforce and helped guide many students on their path towards STEM careers.
  • Public Sector Champion: Meghan Taylor, Director Mid-Hudson Region, Empire State Development Corporation, a Hudson Valley native Meghan has been responsible for guiding and managing ESD’s Mid-Hudson Regional Office and Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative within the seven County Region. Under her leadership, the Mid-Hudson Economic Development Council has secured over $258 million to fund 327 projects. In addition to the success the region has had through the CFA Process, she has also been instrumental in attracting and retaining many companies in the region outside of that process.
  • Supporting Organization Award: Workforce Development Institute (WDI) is a statewide non-profit organization that works to grow and keep good jobs in NYS. They use a range of tools to facilitate projects that build skills and strengthen employers’ ability to hire and promote workers. This often fills gaps not covered by other organizations and is accomplished through partnerships and collaborations with businesses, unions, other non-profits, educational institutions, and government. Manufacturing companies are retooling/retrenching and making investments in product innovation, equipment, facilities, and the workforce. WDI believes a healthy manufacturing base is a key driver to grow the of the rest of the economy.
  • Educator Champion: Bryan Van Vliet, Saugerties High School Technology Teacher, has developed programs for his technology students at Saugerties High School that are not only interesting and educational but prepare them for the future workforce. He has arranged plant tours at local manufacturing facilities so students can see the practical application of their education. He includes a diverse set of projects that vary from gardening to 3D printing to writing computer programs to control a trackless train.


2018 Mfg Champions

Deirdre Ryder – President and owner of VITS International
Tom Sipos – Host of Hudson Valley Focus Live
The School of Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz 
Kenneth Marshall, Pine Bush High School


  • Private Sector Champion: Deirdre Ryder, President and owner of VITS International since 2012 has helped steer the company on a path to growth and prosperity. VITS is a leading supplier of variable repeat sheeting & finishing systems for the printing, packaging, digital and converting industries. Under her leadership, VITS has invested in their US manufacturing operation and become a worldwide leader in the industry.
  • Public Sector Champion: Tom Sipos, host of the popular talk radio show Hudson Valley Focus Live. Tom has relentlessly called attention to the important role manufacturing plays in our regional economy. He has been a longtime vocal supporter of career and technical education and the good jobs CTE can lead to in manufacturing.
  • Supporting Organization Award: The School of Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz is an important strategic educational partner for Council of Industry members. For decades, the school has provided the Hudson Valley with well educated, highly capable electrical and computer engineering graduates, many of whom have gone to work for local manufacturing companies. Recently, the school added a Mechanical Engineering degree that will have a dramatic positive impact on the region.
  • Educator Champion:Kenneth Marshall, a teacher at Pine Bush High School, has been a proponent of STEM education in the Pine Bush Central School District for 10+ years. He leads the school’s unique Excelsior Engineering program and is currently leading the effort to make Pine Bush a PRIME high school in conjunction with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and local manufacturers. 



George Quigley – President, ErtelAlsop
Steve Neuhaus – Orange County Executive
Hudson Valley Pathways Academy
Nicholas Longo, Valley Central High School


  • Private Sector Champion: George Quigley, President of ErtelAlsop 
    George Quigley has grown his business and expanded into new facilities adding and preserving dozens of jobs in the region and generously given his time to help his fellow manufacturers.

  • Public Sector Champion: Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus
    Steven Neuhaus, first as the Supervisor of the Town of Chester and now as County Executive, has advocated for investment in infrastructure, workforce and economic development strategies that help manufactures grow.

  • Educator Champion: Nicholas Longo, Technology Teacher Valley Central High School 
    Nicholas Longo is an engaging and enthusiastic teacher who is giving his students numerous hands on experiences to build interested in STEaM Careers.

  • Supporting Organization Award: Hudson Valley Pathways Academy
    Pathways Academy is preparing our workforce and leaders of tomorrow by engaging students in critical thinking and problem solving, exposing them to numerous industry challenges, and giving them valuable experience working with the manufacturing industry.



Mike Ratliff – President Marco Manufacturing
Dr. Cliff Wood – President SUNY Rockland
Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
Mark Harris – Ulster BOCES

  •  Private Sector: Mike Ratliff, President Marco Manufacturing122
    When Atlantic Design Corporation closed their Poughkeepsie facility, where Mike was General Manager, he decided to open his own manufacturing business (Marco Manufacturing). Marco is now in its 20th year of operation and employs over 30 people (most of which were former Atlantic Design employees) and services more than 25 customers. Mike’s commitment to the customer base, employees and the region is the basis for the success Marco has achieved.

  • Public Sector: Cliff Wood, President SUNY Rockland113
    Cliff Wood has helped bring many programs to SUNY Rockland such as the Haverstraw Mfg Center/3d Printing Lab , TAACCCT Grant, and the Certificate in Manufacturing Leadership Program. President Wood’s leadership in revitalizing Rockland Community College into a partner for growth and workforce development is model to be emulated.

  • Organization: Hudson Valley Pattern For Progress103
    Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress is a regional planning and policy organization that for 50 years has tried to “connect the dots” among a multiplicity of issues in an effort to improve the region’s quality of life. More than ever before, Pattern is now working to integrate the revitalization of manufacturing into the region’s future.

  • Educator: Mark Harris, Ulster BOCES095
    Mark Harris is a teacher in metal trades at the Ulster County BOCES program. He is also the lead mentor and Custom Robotics Design & Manufacturing Instructor and leader of the Solar Car project, the MIT robotic arm project, the NASA prototype project. Mr. Harris has worked to build the CNC classroom at Ulster BOCES and has encouraged countless young people to pursue careers in machining.




Ralf Ludwig – General Manager of Wolf-tec for John Bean Technologies (JBT) Corporation
The Honorable Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney — U.S. House of Representatives, New York State District 18
SUNY Dutchess Community Services

  1.  Ralf’s 30 years of hard work and commitment led to the acquisition of his company, Wolf-tec, Inc., an innovative equipment manufacturer providing processing solutions for poultry, beef, pork, and seafood, to JBT in December 2014. He remains in a leadership position at Wolf-tec working to increase manufacturing in Kingston. Ralf is dedicated to improving the skills and opportunities of the region’s workforce.  Ralf, or his team, sit on numerous education committees and he has worked intensively with SUNY Delhi to first champion, and then create, a Mechatronics program.
  2. Since arriving in Congress, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney has worked hard to deliver results for his Hudson Valley neighbors. By partnering with local leaders to secure investments in new technology, Representative Maloney is fighting to make sure that the Hudson Valley remains a great place to do business.  He believes that manufacturing has a vital role to play in the economy of New York and in providing good jobs for the next generation.

  3. SUNY Dutchess Community Services provides training to manufacturers in a variety of areas from supervisory leadership classes to Solidworks and lean training. These courses help manufacturers improve their bottom line by improving employee competency and productivity. They are able to customize programs to align with the specific needs of a company taking care to matching the best possible instructor to achieve goals and work relentlessly to access resources to minimize the cost of training to the employers. The Council of Industry has worked with SUNY Dutchess to offer the Certificate in Manufacturing Leadership program for over 15 years. The program is designed to offer valuable skill sets through day long courses designed by manufacturers to help participants meet the challenges of the modern globally competitive workplace.

2015 Manufacturing Champions


Bruce Phipps —  President MPI, Inc
The Honorable Congressman Chris Gibson — U.S. House of Representatives, New York State District 19
SUNY Ulster Continuing Education Program

  1. In the past 42 years of operation, under the direction of Bruce Phipps, MPI has made dozens of industry leading innovations, seven of which MPI has patented.   MPI serves the Investment Casting Industry with the most advanced Wax Injection machines available and employs over 65 people in the US and has sales agents worldwide. MPI equipment has been sold to 44 countries. MPI exports MADE IN AMERICA equipment to China! MPI has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NY State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in conjunction with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on several research and development activities.   
  2.  Congressman Gibson has supported legislation aimed at fueling U.S. manufacturing such as approval of the Keystone Pipeline, reducing over-regulation, comprehensive pro-growth tax reform, and investment in transportation and infrastructure.  Locally, Congressman Gibson has been a champion of advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, renewable energy and agriculture. Congressman Gibson has received an 86% rating on key votes from National Association of Manufacturers and is widely respected for his willingness to reach across the aisle help his Hudson Valley constituents.

  3.  SUNY Ulster provides training to help manufacturers improve their bottom line by improving employee competency and productivity. They offer a continuous schedule of industry-standard skills training and continuing education for both technical and non-technical employees. They also customize programs to align with the specific needs of each organization and take care in matching the best possible consultant to achieve training goals. A partial list of the programs SUNY Ulster offers include Leadership, Effective Supervision and Teambuilding, Lean Manufacturing,  Solidworks,  Electrical Skills,  PLC’s and Machine Operator Skills.

             Photo May 14, 9 08 01 AM
       Left to right: Bruce Phipps, Congressman Gibson, , Members of SUNY Ulster’s Continuing Education Program and Harold King



Jim King — IBM Supply Chain, Global Execution Planning and Inventory
Mike Hein — Ulster County Executive
SUNY New Paltz School of Business

  1. Jim King, IBM Integrated Supply Chain, Global Execution Planning and Inventory Manager won the Private Sector Manufacturing Champion award. Jim has over 30 years of manufacturing experience, including leadership roles across the diverse Supply Chain and most recently managed the Poughkeepsie Manufacturing Operations team. Under Jim’s leadership, the Poughkeepsie facility has successfully adapted to become competitive in the global landscape (in terms of cost, quality and delivery metrics) so much so that IBM is relocating manufacturing from Rochester, Minnesota.
  2. Public Sector Award Manufacturing Champion this year was Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive. Mike has worked hard to reduce the cost of government while making it more effective and responsive to its citizens. His efforts to support manufacturing include the formation of a manufacturing Council, streamlining the economic development process and connecting Ulster firms with Albany nanotech.

  3. The award for an Organization Supporting Manufacturing went to SUNY New Paltz School of Business. The School of Business has responded to the needs of manufacturing by establishing a curriculum to educate and train the business community and has worked closely with the Council of Industry to provide training and education in global business and strategic management.2013 winners
    Right to left: Jim King, Mike Hine, Members of SUNY New Paltz School of Business



Richard & Carole Parker — Fair Rite Products
Ed Diana — Orange County Executive
Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp

  1. Private Sector Award winners are Richard and Carole Parker the founder and current president of Fair Rite Products. Richard Parker, a pioneer of the early efforts to use ferrites for EMI energy attenuation, founded Fair Rite Products Corporation in Ulster County in 1952. Under Richard and his wife (Fair Rite’s CEO) Carole’s leadership Fair Rite Products has grown into a multinational business.
  2. Ed Diana, Orange County Executive was honored with the Manufacturing Champion Public Sector Award. Serving as county Executive since 2001, Ed Diana believes that commercial investment is key to affordable taxes, good paying jobs, and quality communities.

  3. Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation was award the Organization Supporting Manufacturing award which was accepted by Mike Oates, President. HVEDC is the one-stop shop for companies considering relocating or expanding in the Hudson Valley region. HVEDC’s recent focus on developing industry clusters has proven very beneficial to all Hudson Valley manufacturers.2012 Winners
    Left to right: Ed Diana, Carole & Richard Parker, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation



Richard Croce — Viking Industries
Marc Molinaro — Dutchess County Executive
Central Hudson

  1. The private sector award was presented to Mr. Richard Croce, the President and co-founder of Viking Industries, Inc. in New Paltz. Beyond his role at Viking, Mr. Croce has also contributed to the manufacturing community as a past President of the Council of Industry Board of Directors, past President of the Ulster County Development Corporations Board of Directors, and member of the Ulster County legislature.
  2. Before becoming the Dutchess County Executive, Marcus Molinaro was a New York State Assemblyman and received the public sector Manufacturing Champion Award for being a consistent and articulate voice for manufacturing during his time in the state legislature. A member of the Assembly minority task force for manufacturing, he served his third term in the New York State Assembly from the 103rd District and was Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore.

  3. This year, for the first time, the Council of Industry honored an organization that champions the critical role manufacturing plays in our economy. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation is an organization that has made significant contributions to Hudson Valley Manufacturing. Central Hudson has a long history of industry support, has been a member of the Council of Industry for nearly a century and has played a key role in promoting economic development, particularly in the manufacturing sector, for many decades.2011 Winners
    Left to right: Central Hudson, Richard Croce, Marc Molinaro



No Award 100th Anniversary



Jack Effron — EFCO Products
Ray Constantino — Town of Lloyd Supervisor

  1. Jack Effron, Chairman of EFCO Products and past president of the Council of Industry. He was selected “for a lifetime of dedicated leadership, wisdom and friendship that have enriched the lives of EFCO associates, colleagues and our community.” He served in the army for two years before returning to the family business. Since then he has not only helped run EFCO Products, but has also been a member of Central Hudson Board of Directors, a founder and renowned former chair of The Taste of the Hudson Valley, and instrumental in creating Hudson Valley Foodworks. Mr. Effron has served in a position of leadership on the board of Community Health Plan and as a trustee for St. Francis Hospital and Health Care Foundation where he was named the first Chairman for the foundation in 1998.
  2. Mr. Costantino has been a supporter of the Ulster County shovel ready project which expanded the municipal water service and enabled Council of Industry member Se’lux and fellow manufacturer Zumtobel to announce expansion plans and add new jobs. He was also instrumental in the deal to relocate Prism Solar Technologies to the former Panasonic Plasma Display Building. “It is very important that we continue to have manufacturing jobs in Lloyd,” Costantino has said. During his two terms as Supervisor, he has spearheaded the development of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail that, when finished, will travel through the Town of Lloyd for approximately 7 and one half miles.2009 Winners
    Left to right: Jack Effron, Harold King (COI), Ray Constantino



Roger Smith — Pawling Corp
Senator William Larkin

  1. Mr. Roger Smith, the past President of the Pawling Corporation, has been a great supporter of the Council of Industry and is a past president of its Board of Directors. Under his leadership the Pawling Corporation has grown to become one of the most successful and admired companies in the Greater Hudson Valley region.
  2. New York State Senator William Larkin, Jr. was chosen as a Manufacturing Champion based on a long and distinguished career in the New York State Legislature. He is a vigilant supporter of a pro-growth agenda and has a long record of accomplishments in support of small business and manufacturers.2008 Winners: Smith and Larkin
    Harold King (COI) presenting awards to Roger Smith (left) and William Larkin (right)



Taylor Thompson — Millrock Technologies

Taylor Thompson has been involved in manufacturing in Ulster County and the Hudson Valley for nearly 50 years. Mr. Thompson was instrumental in forming, managing and growing three manufacturing companies; VirTis, FTS Systems and Millrock Technologies. He served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Ulster County Development Corporation, and the Council of Industry of Southeastern New York as well and many other business and philanthropic organizations. Mr. Thompson has long recognized the need for a highly skilled workforce to support Hudson Valley manufacturers. He has been a vocal proponent of workforce development, business and engineering programs and higher education in general.

Taylor Thompson
Taylor Thompson



Senator Stephen Saland

Senator Saland was awarded the Manufacturing Champion Award for his support of legislation that was beneficial to manufacturers and small business throughout New York. His support of training for manufacturers at SUNY Dutchess has helped dozens of Dutchess county firms grow and hundreds of their workers obtain essential new skills.