2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact USA

Phoenix Contact USA is a manufacturing success story.


A manufacturing success story. Courtesy: Phoenix Contact USAIt has been celebrated in song and film and by a statue on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The idea of coming to America is portrayed as almost a magical event, as if simply touching foot in the United States is the solution to all problems. We all know it's not that simple.

America is the land of opportunity for those from around the world who come to these shores. What you do with that opportunity is what we truly measure. We know it is not as simple as showing up. You have to work to succeed.

It also is a tenet of America that you can come here and be an American, in all that implies, without ever forfeiting your heritage. You can celebrate where you are and simultaneously be proud of where you came from. That is more than an American dream. It is an American promise.

Phoenix Contact is a German-based company, founded in Essen nearly 100 years ago. The company is credited with helping develop the first modular terminal block. It has continued to innovate throughout its history, and in the 1980s began global expansion, including expansion to the United States in 1981.

What began as sales and marketing only in the U.S. expanded to manufacturing assembly, and later full manufacturing capabilities for Phoenix Contact. In its home in Middleton, Pa., just outside of the state capital of Harrisburg, Phoenix Contact has grown and developed not just the manufacturing it brought with it from Germany, but also new manufacturing that serves the global market while staying close to its North American customers. It is now an exporter of automation technology back to Germany.

Even as a subsidiary of a $2 billion global company, Phoenix Contact USA has built a formidable reputation as a manufacturer in its own right. It now employs more than 500 people in Middletown and continues to look for new ways to deliver customer value—and to continue its phenomenal growth.

By seeing the value of coming to America, Phoenix Contact took the first step toward success on these shores. Through hard work, innovation, and persistence, Phoenix Contact became a United States manufacturer with a proud German heritage. Phoenix Contact is a German success story. It is an American success story. It is a manufacturing success story.

- Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant Engineering, bvavra@cfemedia.com.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
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February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
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April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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