Better Plants Partners like HARBEC, Inc., Underscore the Importance of Small Businesses

It is National Small Business Week, and small manufacturers are the backbone of our nation’s economy. The vast majority of manufacturing firms in the United States are quite small – of the roughly 250,000 manufacturers in the country, all but roughly 4,000 are considered to be small businesses (i.e., having fewer than 500 employees).[1] More than three-quarters of manufacturers have fewer than 20 employees.[2] For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.89 is added to the economy – the largest multiplier effect of any economic sector.[3]

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and Better Plants program are working every day to help small manufacturers improve their manufacturing competitiveness through energy savings. A great example of this comes from upstate New York with HARBEC, Inc. A Better Plants Challenge goal achiever, HARBEC has been a custom injection molder and precision component part manufacturer since 1977. HARBEC is strongly committed to efficiency in all facets of its business, but particularly with regard to the utilization of natural resources and energy. Their commitment shows – they met their initial goal by improving their energy intensity by 25% cumulatively in just over four years. They have deployed renewable energy and integrated a combined heat and power system, as well as adopted ISO 50001 and participated in DOE’s Superior Energy Performance program. HARBEC has implemented efficiency solutions within its manufacturing processes, as well has targeted energy efficiency projects including high efficiency lighting, building envelope, HVAC, and thermal energy efficiency improvements. To top it all off, HARBEC has a goal of eliminating city water used in production, and has reduced its use of city water per pound of product by over 60%, by using harvested rainwater.

HARBEC’s energy team stands by their Ontario, New York, facility’s combined heat and power unit.

AMO and Better Plants are helping small manufacturers through technical assistance, recognition, and most importantly, by helping create a community where partners can share best practices and learn from each other. Several Better Plants partners have established cohorts for their suppliers to participate in the Better Plants Supply Chain Initiative. These 30 supplier companies are working to improve their energy performance which will, in turn, help larger Original Equipment Manufacturers that benefit from a leaner and more reliable supply chain.

Another important resource for small manufacturers are the Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). Located at 28 universities around the country, IACs train the next-generation of energy savvy engineers as they provide no-cost energy assessments to improve productivity, reduce waste, and save energy. IACs typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for every manufacturer assessed, nearly $50,000 of which is implemented during the first year following the assessment. Many Better Plants small and medium-sized partners have worked with their Technical Account Manager to take advantage of the IAC offerings. In addition, the Better Plants and IAC programs have worked together to help IAC students step up as the next generation of industrial energy management workforce.

With nearly 200 Better Plants partners operating nearly 3,000 plants all across the country, Better Plants is working with small, medium, and large manufacturers to secure American innovation and manufacturing competitiveness through energy savings.  During 2018 National Small Business Week, we tip our caps to small businesses who are manufacturing right here in the United States of America.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses

[2] Ibid.

[3] National Association of Manufacturers, Top 20 Facts about Manufacturing