Best of Built in the Blue Ridge 2016
(WSLS 10) - During the past year, we have featured several companies, proudly making their products in southwest and central Virginia.
During the holiday season, you have probably needed a lot of boxes for packaging Christmas presents.
A Christiansburg company makes all kinds of boxes for items like board games and toys, as well as DVDs.
A unique box they designed is for gift cards.
They were even awarded a patent for it, which is a rarity in the industry.
Rockbridge County-based Sayre Enterprises got its start making one product that makes military uniforms more comfortable, the Boot Blouser.
"It was a very simple device that the soldiers used to wrap around the bottom of their pants to keep their pants inside of their boots all day long. It was much more comfortable than what we used to wear which was an elastic band with metal rings,” said company president Scott Sayre.
In the past three decades, more than 7 million have been sold.
The company has expanded into new product lines including outdoor wear and gear, tactical accessories and reflective wear.
Lynchburg's Beeswax Candle Company started in Kathy Shaw's home.
Thirteen years later, she has hired several employees and moved into a gallery and studio downtown.
The candles burn cleaner than those made with paraffin wax.
"Beeswax is different because it's a clean-burning wax, so when you burn beeswax, you don't end up with smoke and soot on your walls, and the other nice feature is if you or anyone else in your family have allergies or asthma, burning beeswax candles generally will not cause a reaction because we don't add any perfume,” said president Kathy Shaw.
The internet has allowed the company to get customers from around the world.
Since we featured Silver Tears Campers in Roanoke, the company won Virginia Living Magazine's 2016 Made in Virginia Award in the sport and outdoors category.
Workers make tear drop campers, which are lighter and more aerodynamic, saving gas for the car pulling it.
Base model campers are used for an evening in the woods, with specialized models featuring a full bar or a kennel.
Clark Brothers Welding was nominated as the Roanoke Regional Chamber's Business of the Year for the last three years. It won in 2014.
Workers have brought production of an electronic cabinet from Mexico back to the United States.
With a new year beginning, a Vinton-based business is getting busy.
“We do marketing products like magnetic calendars, we do sports schedules,” said company president Dale Turner.
Each year, workers at Magnets USA produce more than 10 million magnetic calendars.
In addition to the calendars, the company also sells cutlery and gifts, which it custom engraves.
Roanoke County's E-Z Ramps Mobility Solutions installs ramps in homes to make it possible for people with disabilities to come and go freely.
A lot of the work they do is with VA hospitals in the region.
In addition to homes, company workers also travel to New York City each election to install ramps at polling places, making those handicap accessible for voters.
The hotel you stay in for your next vacation could feature products from a Roanoke-based company.
Renaissance Lighting and Metal Furniture make light fixtures for several hotel chains across the country.
In addition to lights, workers also produce metal furniture, like some of the benches, trash cans and bike racks on the Virginia Tech campus.
Ply Gem Windows is Franklin County's largest employer, with more than 1,200 employees.
On average, 34 tractor trailers are filled each day with windows.
Ply Gem has partnered with WSLS 10 and Habitat for Humanity for our three Home for the Holidays builds.
Montgomery County's Show Case Shutters makes window treatments for your home.
Plantation shutters are an upgrade to blinds and curtains.
The product is custom made to fit all windows, no matter the shape or size.
St. Pierre Woodworking in Floyd County makes furniture by hand.
Workers take old barns or trees to make everything from cabinets to mantles, but it is tables that are most in demand.
“We do a lot of tables. Every home has a table. Not everybody has a hutch or an armoire. They can get by with the bedroom set they have. It's really about tables because a table can show off the slab or the wood much better than being chopped up into smaller pieces for a small piece of furniture,” said owner Bill St. Pierre.
Some pieces take more than a year to make.
Bassett Furniture is making higher-end furniture at its plant in Henry County.
The days of mass producing furniture are gone.
Everything that is produced is done one at a time once an order is made.
The company is opening retail stores across the country to sell its products, with a goal of opening five to six new stores each year.
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