SEDRO-WOOLLEY — After starting out in a garage 20 years ago, Broadcast Tools, which makes audio equipment for radio stations, now has five employees and customers throughout the world.
The Association of Washington Business (AWB) stopped by Broadcast Tools in Sedro-Woolley on Monday during its third annual statewide bus tour of manufacturing companies.
“We are highlighting how alive and vibrant manufacturing is in the state of Washington,” said Kris Johnson, AWB president and CEO. “Here in Skagit 10,000 men and women wake up every morning and go to work for a manufacturer. (Skagit County) is the fifth largest manufacturing employer in Western Washington.”
He said the goal of the tour is to highlight the work of manufacturers of all sizes, hear their concerns relating to regulations, trade issues and more, and learn what the Legislature can do to help them.
The AWB serves as the state’s chamber of commerce and its manufacturing council.
Broadcast Tools was started in 1989 in Seattle by Don Winget, a radio engineer. Wife Connie Miller, office manager at Broadcast Tools, said her husband saw an opportunity to create a better product.
“He kept saying ‘I could make something that works better than this,’” she said. “’Why doesn’t anyone make something like this? I need something that does this.’”
In 1996, the two moved the company to Mount Vernon and worked out of an unfinished basement. In 2003, the company bought a commercial building in Sedro-Woolley.
Broadcast Tools makes about 50 audio equipment products. Most are for radio stations, and some are for television and music, Miller said.
“It’s kind of a niche industry,” she said.
The company completes the design, prototyping, testing, assembly and final testing of the product in-house, and outsources the manufacturing to other U.S. companies, Miller said.
“It’s so nice to be small,” she said. “We can be anywhere we want.”
The business has five employees, including Winget and Miller.
Statewide, about 287,000 worked at about 7,600 manufacturing firms in 2017, according to a news release about the tour.
The manufacturing sector contributed $59 billion to the state’s economy in 2017, representing 12% of the state’s total economic output.