On Wednesday, August 5, First State Manufacturing in Milford, Delaware welcomed Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Economic Director Bernice Whaley to their manufacturing facility for a tour and presentation by the Small Business Administration. The tour was joined by community leaders from the Milford Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Milford Inc., Milford City officials, elected Delaware state officials, representatives from business development initiatives in Kent and Sussex counties as well as FSM partners from Amtrak, Dover Air Force Base and WSFS.
The Governor and Secretary requested to tour the manufacturing plant and speak as part of their “Pathways to Prosperity” initiative to support manufacturing, job growth and business development in the First State. The Pathways to Prosperity initiative will establish partnerships with Delaware employers, universities, and school districts to prepare students for a bright future in high-demand fields and careers. In a press release from February of this year, Governor Markell said the state is dedicating more than $1 million of its federal career and technical education funding over the next year to offer school districts grants to defray the cost of providing these programs. Through this effort, students will take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training. They will have the opportunity to graduate with industry-recognized certificates and with college credits for courses that are most relevant to those industries, giving them a head start on getting a job and earning a degree.
FSM has experienced a 75% increase in revenues in the past three years, added 49 new positions and is in the process of expanding their 75,000 sq. ft. facility to accommodate new contract awards and increased production capacity. The facility houses production, materials management, shipping, product engineering services, quality inspection stations and administrative services.
“We have a strategic plan in place,” said Vice President of Marketing, Scott Crothers. “Our leadership team has been faithfully pursuing that plan to diversify our services as well as our client-base providing us with work to keep our production lines running.”
In 1998 with one sewing machine and a lot of determination, Eli & Sher Valenzuela began what is now known as First State Manufacturing out of their garage. As an Army communications technician, Eli took a correspondence course on upholstery while serving with the Second Armored Division in Germany. This course ultimately led him towards developing a career that has been not only financially successful but personally fulfilling. While working at Dover Air Force Base Eli worked upholstering C-5 Galaxy aircrafts for the United States Air Force.
Today, First State Manufacturing is an AS 9100C quality rated company and is one of the only companies of its size to earn this gold standard of quality assurance. Providing quality upholstery and cut and sew services to the U.S. military, municipalities and a wide array of commercial customers, First State Manufacturing has earned its reputation for providing solutions that solve the challenges its customers face, while continuing to grow manufacturing jobs in Sussex county.
DEDO Secretary Bernice Whaley, FSM Vice President Sher Valenzuela, Governor Jack Markell