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The Utah Manufacturers Association, one of Utah's oldest trade organizations, has recognized Mity-Lite of Orem as the 2011 Manufacturer of the Year.

The organization made the announcement at its 106th Annual Awards and Installation Banquet Saturday at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. The event drew 700 people and serves as the most important social gathering of the year for Utah's 4,400 manufacturers.

Mity-Lite Durable Lightweight Furniture Systems was recognized for its contribution to Utah's economy, exceptional operational performance, economic achievement, workplace safety, community and state involvement, and commitment to the principles of the free enterprise system.

Mity-Lite, founded in 1987 by Greg Wilson, achieved initial success by creating a light-weight plastic table that became a staple for customers in hospitality, religious and public assembly settings. In 2008 as the recession took hold, customer demand dropped by almost 40 percent, In response, Mity-Lite's management team, led by CEO Randy Hales, established a plan to grow market share by introducing innovative products and streamlining operations.

"The results of that plan were amazing," said association President Thomas Bingham. "In the throes of a recession, when many others were pulling back, Mity-Lite released five products within a year to expand its offerings. This move increased Mity-Lite's revenue stream by 16 percent."

Mity-Lite's improved operations have enabled it to prosper and keep manufacturing jobs in Utah, the association said, while contributing more than $10 million to Orem's economy.

The other 11 finalists for Manufacturer of the Year were Barnes Aerospace, Ogden; Campbell Scientific Inc., Logan; Futura Industries, Clearfield; Kaddas Enterprises, Salt Lake City; L3 Communications Systems-West, Salt Lake City; Ophir-Spiricon LLC, North Logan; Petersen Inc., Ogden; Smead Manufacturing, Cedar City; Syracuse Casting, Tooele; Usana Health Services, Salt Lake City; and Westinghouse Western Zirconium, Ogden. —

The Utah Manufacturers Association online