Welcome to 2018.

Here at Blue Chip we couldn’t think of a better way to start another year than by showing new products made or designed by Lane County manufacturers.

In this issue we’ll share details about and photos of the latest offerings of a dozen firms, ranging from consumer goods and food and beverage products, to vehicles and heavy-duty industrial equipment.

The innovations are from established firms, such as Ninkasi Brewing Co. and Winnebago, and lesser-known startups, including Arcimoto and Defunkify.

Manufacturing employs relatively few people in Lane County, with only nine out of every 100 employees working in the sector, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Today, about 13,713 people are employed in 567 Lane County manufacturing firms, including wood products, metal fabrication, machinery, and food and beverage.

Yet manufacturing plays an influential role in the local economy.

The industry pays an average annual wage of $51,463 compared with the countywide annual average wage of $41,503, Employment Department figures show.

Manufacturers sell many of their products and services outside Lane County, including nationally and globally. Such trade brings money into the local economy that is spent locally, rippling through other Lane County businesses, such as retail, housing and restaurants.

Local firms that sell products outside Oregon also spread Lane County’s reputation in positive ways to other states and countries.

Many reasons lead manufacturers to bring new products to market.

Expanded lines help firms achieve growth targets that they would not reach otherwise, said Aaron Fox, president of the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Often new products are a response to the changing needs of customers or to competitors who have brought a “better value proposition” to market, he said. “In this way, product development can be seen as a defensive position to protect existing market share.”

And all products have a life cycle that ultimately leads to obsolescence, Fox said.

Sticking with existing platforms can become cost prohibitive, with “component end-of-life or technology advancements” driving new product development, he said.

“Company decisions should be influenced by their overall strategy,” Fox said, but, ultimately, new products are “necessary investments in a company’s future to remain relevant and profitable.”

Read on to learn the ways a dozen Lane County firms plan to achieve those important goals.