Orders for specialized parts have picked up the last six months for Cannon Machine Products of Kennewick.
Charlie Cannon, the company's vice president of sales and operations, says he isn't exactly sure what caused business to jump.
But he's grateful that demand for the customized metal and plastic parts the eight employees at the company produces has gone up.
Cannon Machine Products was one of about 120 exhibitors participating Thursday in the Tri-City Development Council's ninth annual Smartmap Expo at TRAC in Pasco.
More than 450 people and 100 high school juniors and seniors attended the event, said Kayla Pratt, TRIDEC's communications and member services director.
Brett Forsyth, president of Falcon Development of Pasco, said his company has seen steady demand and recently had some work added because of Boeing.
The company, which has been in the Tri-Cities for about five years, helps design and build parts needed in the aerospace, medical and military industries.
Forsyth said they are working on marketing their company of 40 employees to let people know that there is an option to have a large-quantity of specialized parts created in the Tri-Cities.
Most manufacturers remain optimistic about how their own business is doing, even if they are pessimistic about the overall business climate, said Linda Adams, Impact Washington marketing manager. She gave the expo's attendees a first look at the 2011 results of the nonprofit's survey of 400 manufacturers in the state. The report will be released in December.
About half of the 7,600 manufacturers in the state have fewer than 10 employees, Adams said. Wineries and food processors are among the companies that are considered manufacturers.
In the southeast region, where most manufacturers are in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties, Adams said 17 percent said its work force grew.
Of those surveyed in the state, about 24 percent said they planned to expand their business, she said.
Adams said the firms that were exporting to other countries in general had a brighter economic outlook than those who were only selling domestically.
"Exporting is a big driver for growth in this state and in this country," she said.
Esteem Wireless Modems of Kennewick is one company that's already exporting. Robert Croft, the company's manager of mobile data computer systems, said the company sells their modems within the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico and India.
The wireless modems allows clients like the Kennewick police Department to send information, Croft said.
Demand has been steady, and Croft said the 15-employee company plans to expand to higher speeds.
Manufacturing Services of Kennewick and Plastic Injection Molding Inc. of Richland make parts for the wireless modems.
Plastic Injection Molding has seen some growth, although the company has stayed at nine employees. Equipment the company purchased about two years ago has the potential to allow the company to double its volume, said Ken Williams, president of Plastic Injection Molding.
Plastic Injection Molding, which started in 1996, has created the parts for everything from adaptations to agricultural sprinkler systems to the plastic lapel part used at Hanford as part of testing to make sure that workers were not exposed to radiation.
"We've been blessed that it's been as busy as it has," said Troy Stivers, the company's production scheduler.