The Business Plan: Celebrating Alexandria’s little-known manufacturing sector

The Business Plan: Celebrating Alexandria’s little-known manufacturing sector

By Bill Reagan
(File Photo)

Manufacturing Day (using the hashtag #mfgday on Twitter) will be celebrated across the country next week. October 3 is a day for highlighting the importance of manufacturing to the economy, showcasing the diversity of modern manufacturing technology and promoting the rewarding and skilled jobs in the field.

Manufacturing includes much more than the heavy industry that immediately might come to mind when you hear the word. It includes all types of fabricators who create new products, industries like woodworking, doll making, soap and cosmetic manufacturing, as well as jewelry design and production.

We don’t often think of Alexandria as a hub for that kind of industry. However, the city has a rich manufacturing history, from unglamorous pork rendering along the waterfront to spark plug production along Washington Street.

Today, manufacturing in Alexandria encompasses a broad range of services, including commercial printers, bakers, chocolatiers and sign makers. Are you curious about modern day manufacturing in Alexandria? Here are a few success stories that illustrate Alexandria’s industrial diversity:

The Port City Brewing Co. is an award-winning craft brewery that celebrates Alexandria’s tradition of brewing beer for the region. Established in 2011, the company distributes its products to Virginia, D.C., Maryland, New York and North Carolina.

House of Doors was founded in the early 1970s and now is led by a second-generation owner. Within their 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Alexandria, the company has built customized doors for the U.S. Capitol, legislative office buildings and the White House.

The M.E. Swing Co. was located in the District for almost 100 years and, in 2013, moved its roasting operation to Del Ray. The company focuses on providing high-quality and ethically sourced coffee with a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Vie de France, an internationally known bakery and supplier of French and European pastries, employs 150 people in Alexandria and works around the clock baking and assembling croissants. The facility provides all of the croissants sold by the company from Denver to the East Coast.

The National Capital Flag Co., founded in Alexandria in 1962, is one of the largest flag manufacturers in the country. Customers include U.S. government agencies, all branches of the U.S. military and other commercial entities. The flags are made, embroidered and appliqued on site.

Mom Made Foods is headquartered in Alexandria and makes low-sodium, preservative-free frozen foods, prepared meals and handheld snacks for children and families. Mom Made Foods products are carried in the freezer aisles of more than 3,000 stores, including Giant, Target and Whole Foods.

With such a diverse and significant manufacturing presence in Alexandria, it is clear that this industry is a vital piece of our city’s economic fabric. Join us as we celebrate both Alexandria’s manufacturers and other manufacturers across the country on October 3.
The writer is the director 
of the Alexandria Small Business Develpment Center.