Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

September 15, 2016

Fifteen years after September 11, 2001, we stand united as a country – remembering the travesty, but holding high the men and women who defend our country and freedoms every day.

As part of the blog series leading up to San Diego MFG Day, we’re featuring 5 defense technologies #MadeinSD used to protect our country, and U.S. allies across the world.

  1. Headquartered in San Diego, Cubic Global Defense (CGD) is a leading provider of virtual, constructive and game-based training solutions, special operations, mission support and intelligence for the U.S. and allied forces in more than 35 nations. CGD’s primary focus is to raise human performance by providing an integrated, effective learning assessment experience that drives combat readiness. 
  2. GKN Aerospace, a UK-based manufacturer with large operations in El Cajon, develops high-performance components and assemblies for aerostructures, engine products, landing gear, wiring systems and more. The company provides advanced transparent coatings and vertically integrated supply of aerospace grade acrylic material, and offers a full range of capability for design, analysis, testing and certification of military canopies, cockpit windows and passenger windows. 
  3. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) is a premier technology integrator in the technical, engineering, intelligence and enterprise information technology markets. With operations in San Diego, the company designs, develops and sustains offerings that empower diplomatic missions, support warfighter requirements and advance exploration from the ocean floor to outer space. Specifically, SAIC develops the Tsunami Buoy, a surface satellite communications buoy with deep-water data measurement sensors and mooring subsystem capable of detecting encroaching tsunamis and more. 
  4. Located in the San Diego bay, General Dynamics NASSCO is the largest full service shipyard on the West Coast. The company specializes in the design and construction of auxiliary and support ships for the U.S. Navy, and oil tankers and dry cargo carriers for commercial markets. NASSCO is currently building the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams – the Navy’s second Expeditionary Sea Base – named for the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Battle of Iwo Jima. The 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.
  5. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions. Located in Poway, GA-ASI is highly regarded for its development of the Predator aircraft: a long line of RPA systems, beginning with the highly successful "RQ-1" Predator aircraft first flown by the U.S. Air Force in 1995. Predator since has been named by Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine as one of the top ten aircraft that changed the world. The line of aircraft has been acquired by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Royal Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the French Air Force, the Spanish Air Force and others. 

MFG Day – and the manufacturing companies it spotlights – serves as a testament to San Diego’s impact around the world. Companies here develop products and services that change, save and better the lives of millions of people every day. Join us October 7 to celebrate.

September 15, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

With a background in manufacturing engineering and nine patents to his name, Laszlo Garamszegi of Aurora Spine treats the development of medical devices as both art and as science.

I’ve been fascinated with designing and building devices in this space for a long time”, states Garamszegi, originally from Hungary. “Through a blend of engineering, raw materials and a sense of aesthetic, it’s possible to make something that will truly improve a life. In fact, many lives.

It’s with this sense of focus and aspiration that Garamszegi co-founded Aurora Spine in 2012, after working at a number of other medical device companies throughout the San Diego region. With spinal fusion technologies necessitating highly invasive procedures and long, painful recovery times, the company saw an opportunity for improvement. Aurora’s technologies aimed to simplify the process and allow for effective spinal fusion that streamlined surgical procedures and contoured to a patient’s unique anatomy.

The company has experienced impressive growth with a full product suite of interspinous fusion devices, biologics and surgical tools. With product currently in fifteen countries around the world, the Aurora team is working hard to expand its presence in other global regions, including South Korea and Australia, among others. Devices are manufactured right here in the U.S. with supply chain operations in California and Ohio. With the company’s core ZIP® product line receiving U.S. patent approval in April of this year, Aurora is well positioned to continue to bring its sleek, futuristic looking product line to the international market.

 

Speaking of aesthetics, what of the brand’s signature royal purple color? Any special significance there?

Laszlo laughs at the question. “Trent (CEO and one of Aurora’s co-founders), attended Carlsbad High School and that was the school’s team color. We have international reach, but that strong tie-in to San Diego won’t be going away any time soon.”

 

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Aurora Spine are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

September 8, 2016

One of the most unique industries in San Diego is Sports & Active Lifestyle, a key driver of the regional economy - impacting more than 32,000 jobs - and a staple in our local culture. As part of our series leading up to San Diego MFG Day on October 7, we’re bringing you five items #MadeinSD used by professional athletes around the world.

  1. SKLZ: Endorsed by USA Soccer star Alex Morgan, Evan Longoria of the New York Yankees and hometown favorite Jason Verrett of the Chargers, SKLZ is a staple in the sports training industry. Founded in 2002 with the invention and success of the Hit-a-Way baseball training product, SKLZ products are used to train the world’s top competitive athletes with lines of performance training products and programs.
  2. FOX: If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike, motorcycle or other offroad vehicle, chances are FOX supplied the shock absorbers. FOX moved their off-road and military components division to El Cajon in 2012 and continues to be an industry leader in shock absorbers and racing suspension products for snowmobiles, mountain bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, off-road cars, trucks and SUVs.
  3. TaylorMade Golf: It’s no surprise the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world is headquartered right here in Carlsbad, as the region is one of the most active golf hubs in the country. The company sponsors top PGA golfers including Sergio García, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. For this first time in the TaylorMade history, the company has the #1 and #2 golfers playing TaylorMade equipment.
  4. Rusty Surfboards: In 1969, Rusty Psiendorfer shaped his first surfboard as a high school student in San Diego. Sixteen years later, he found Rusty Surfboards – now a top-tier  surfboard manufacturer based in San Diego. The Rusty “R” logo is internationally recognized in the surf and surf apparel industry.
  5. Sticky Bumps: Going hand-in-hand with Rusty, anyone who owns a surfboard has used Sticky Bumps. As surfing became popular in the early 1940s, surfers began relying on candle wax to keep their feet glued to the board while riding the wave. As the industry-leading surf wax maker, Sticky Bumps makes its products in Vista and is recognized globally as the go-to surf wax. 

 

Celebrate all that's #MadeinSD on October 7. Visit sdmfgday.com to get involved. 

August 30, 2016

EDC investor Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE) is a full service hospitality and office furniture dealership. From design concept to project completion, ICE creates an inspired, ergonomic workplace that allows companies to increase efficiency, creativity and output. In addition to representing more than 300 manufacturers, ICE also fabricates a line of locally made office furniture – supporting local artisans, welders and retired military personnel.

Recently, ICE provided EDC's office with a custom reception desk with walnut “live edge” wood slab accents and laser cut steel signage. We sat down with the company founder & CEO DeLinda Forsythe to discuss ICE's commitment to San Diego.

1)Tell us about Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE).

ICE helps organizations consciously build their corporate culture.  ICE crafts furniture solutions that encourage a company’s staff to connect, solve problems together, grow and ultimately “create magic.”  The open environment encourages team work.  The majority of the workforce today is under 35 and they have a strong affinity towards more simple materials.  They don’t want to work in a space that feels contrived.  They came through a rough recession, they want to work in a space that feels like money was spent wisely.  Our furniture is a fun way to help management build an empowered corporate ecosystem.
 
We've recently expanded from a full service office and hospitality furniture dealership to manufacturing a “brewery inspired” office benching system through ICE WorkShop. 

2) Tell us more about WorkShop and the benefits of innovative office design.

At $1000-$1500 per user, customization can not only be affordable, it can also be designed to complement and enhance the architecture of a space while meeting unique client requirements of height adjustability and flexibility. WorkShop can be designed to reflect your corporate culture, helping attract and retain the best talent at your company.  A talent race is on and we think the authentic design of our WorkiBeam system can provide a competitive advantage.

Join other local manufacturers on Oct. 7 for MFG Day 2016 as we celebrate one of San Diego's most diverse industries.

August 23, 2016

This week EDC sat down with Underground Elephant's CEO Jason Kulpa to discuss the company's recent office opening and expansion in San Diego. Founded in 2008, the 100-person technology company works to advance the online consumer experience in the insurance and financial services sectors. Recently featured in the New York Times piece, "A Beer Garden Lays Down Roots for a Technology Hub," Underground Elephant new innovative office space is driving company success and a collaborative culture.

1) Please tell us what your company does.

Underground Elephant (UE) is a digital marketing and technology company dedicated to advancing the online consumer experience. Starting in the insurance sector, we expanded over the course of 8 years into other financial services including credit cards, bank accounts, mortgages and loans. We have been listed on Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies for four consecutive years, seeing 192 percent growth in the past three years. With a team of more than one hundred employees, UE is dedicated to increasing quality interactions between consumers and providers. Recently, we moved our headquarters to the historic Wellman Peck warehouse in East Village. Designed by San Diego’s acclaimed Paul Basile of Basile Studios, the space lends itself to our open and collaborative culture, and is complete with an indoor schoolhouse, five olive trees and an in-house bar.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

When deciding where to move our company, we considered relocating to Denver or tech-central San Francisco. However, the environment that San Diego provides is hard to find anywhere else. Not only is the weather idyllic, but the top-rated local universities make the area a hotbed for talent. The increase in San Diego tech startups has also created a community here that we wanted to be involved with. Our new headquarters in East Village is the ideal spot for us, since it intertwines the richness of San Diego's history with the future of innovation. Moving into the new space has not only changed our environment, but it’s also increased our entire company’s productivity. For instance, our tech team has reduced their deployment cycles by 62 percent since the move. Being located steps away from Petco Park, countless restaurants and cafes, and entertainment is also a great benefit for our unique, millennial-based culture.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

There are many companies throughout San Diego who are at the top of their industries and contributing to the culture of our city. In the hospitality realm, Please & Thank You Liquor Bar sets itself apart from all other catering companies by offering a distinctively unique cocktails-only service. We have had the pleasure of working with them in our new space; they are truly at the forefront of the craft cocktail industry in San Diego, which is a difficult niche to set yourself apart in since it’s already quite saturated.

Additionally, downtown agencies Red Door and Mirum (formerly Digitaria) are influencers as well, adding to the innovative digital tech hub in East Village with unique company cultures and spaces.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

Our multi-million dollar investment in our office space in East Village signifies our intention to set down permanent roots. The bet is that our investment will trigger others to do the same; we’d like to change downtown into a buzzing work-epicenter. With the lifestyle that San Diego can provide, we believe the city will continue attracting both companies and talent from across the country.

 

Underground Elephant's newly opened office:


August 22, 2016

Every so often San Diego Regional EDC takes an influential group of civic leaders to a peer city to better understand its economic development best practices and bring ideas back home to replicate. This time, we're headed to Nashville, Tennessee to find out what America’s Finest City learn from the Music City. In preparation for the October trip, EDC recently sent a team down south to scout meetings and spokespeople who can speak to philosophies and best practices that have served Nashville well. Here are just a few topics on the upcoming trip agenda:
 
  • First, it’s clear that Nashville mayoral leadership has consistently focused on education, public safety and economic development over a number of administrations.
  • Second, Nashville has made investments to make the City a premier destination. Nashville has built arenas now home to pro football and pro hockey franchises, constructed a new home for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and opened a new downtown convention center, as well as the Frist Center for Visual Arts - all of which has occurred in the past 20 years. The City is now making a bid for a major league soccer team.   
  • The City is also focused on regionalism – the collaboration between area government bodies for the overall good of the region. The Nashville mayor not only oversees the City but also Davidson County, an area about twice the size with half the population of San Diego County. Streamlining government processes and policies has improved development services and transportation infrastructure planning. 
  • In a timely response to President Obama’s call for honest conversations about race relations in communities across America, Mayor Megan Barry is partnering with Lipscomb University's College of Leadership & Public Service and others to host forums with the community to address race, equity and leadership in the Nashville community.
 
Mayor Barry and an outstanding group of civic leaders have committed to speak to our San Diego delegation next month. Learn more about the trip details and agenda topics here. If interested in participating, contact Raquel Elbachri for more information.
 
August 19, 2016

As increasing costs and traffic have made headlines around the country, the Bay Area has been top of mind to many of those in economic development. We’ve seen stories indicating a third of Bay Area residents want to leave the region, making it ripe for other states to recruit companies and talent. Yet, economic developers from San Francisco to Oakland and San Jose are confident they can overcome challenges and continue to be world’s leading innovation engine. So what can San Diego learn?

This week, EDC and nine San Diego economic and workforce development practitioners spent two days in San Francisco with our Bay Area peers to find out. Meetings covered a range of topics including:

  • General understanding of the history of the Bay Area innovation boom
  • Regional collaboration models
  • Tech transfer and acceleration as economic drivers
  • Implementing technology within cities to boost efficiency and capability
  • Building a tech ecosystem
  • Collaborating to prepare a regional workforce
  • Working across departments to ease strain on business

Coming out of discussions with more than 25 Bay Area peers, it’s clear there is much San Diego can learn from our northern California counterparts. The region is certainly not without its challenges and many of the news we’ve read about Bay Area economic struggles were validated while there. But as Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute put it, “We have a culture of lawlessness here that drives people to find solutions.” He was talking about the entrepreneurial mindset that has driven innovation throughout the 101 city, 9 county region. That mindset has seen Google and Facebook to overcome traffic challenges by operating private bus fleets and ferry services for their employees that rival most transportation agencies. It has seen workforce investment boards establish partnerships that cut across multiple regions to better serve the population being displaced to cheaper locations further East. It has seen the development and implementation of new technologies meant to ease the launch of new startups. Lastly, it has shown that through innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, any challenge can be overcome.

As we breakdown all we learned from the best practices trip, it’s clear that the San Diego region is well-positioned to continue its evolution as a tech ecosystem – not one that mirrors or rivals Silicon Valley, but one that stands alone with its own set of strengths. 

August 19, 2016

With just under two months to San Diego Manufacturing Day, we’re kicking off a five-part blog series on San Diego-made products you didn’t know were made right in our backyard. Here are five of some of your favorite products #MadeinSD:

  1. WD-40 – If you’ve fixed a squeaky door, greased a bike chain or worked on cars, chances are you’ve used WD-40. Founded as a chemical company in 1953, WD-40 Company remains a staple in San Diego manufacturing. Gary Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 explains, “San Diego is a good city to be in if you’re in international business, as I can be on a call with London in the morning and with Shanghai in the afternoonWe like to say ‘the sun never sets on WD-40.”
  2. TaylorMade golf clubs – PGA Tour pros like Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia can be seen swinging TaylorMade clubs in tournaments watched by millions almost weekly. Best known for innovating metal drivers starting in 1979, TaylorMade remains the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world. Fore!
  3. Taylor Guitars – Used by world-famous musicians including Jason Mraz  and Taylor Swift, Taylor Guitars – located in San Diego’s East County – is the world’s leading guitar manufacturer. With operations on both sides of the border, Taylor maintains a high-level of quality control over its products.
  4. Stone Brewing craft beer– The recognizable gargoyle and award-winning beer from Stone has made waves for taking on “corporate beer”. Started in North County in 1996, Stone now boasts seven locations including a newly opened brewery in Berlin. Cheers! 
  5. Illumina's instruments for genetic sequencing – Recently named the “Google of Genetic Testing”, Illumina has taken over San Diego’s UTC business center which houses the company’s worldwide headquarters and more than 2,000 employees. More than 90 percent of the world’s genetic sequencing is done on Illumina instruments.

Stay tuned for our next list: five #MadeinSD products used by the world’s top athletes

Celebrate with us October 7. Visit sdmfgday.com to get involved. 

August 5, 2016

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf joined a panel of local business leaders from Solar Turbines, Solatube and Northrop Grumman to unveil UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s new study on the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the nation and San Diego. The summary, “San Diego and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” produced by World Trade Center San Diego, explains how San Diego’s unique economic assets position the region to realize relatively greater benefits from TPP than the U.S. as a whole.

TPP, an international trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, seeks to lower trade barriers for exporters and increase intellectual property protections for multinational companies.

San Diego’s prime location on the edge of the Pacific Rim, as well its specialization in advanced manufacturing and other key industries tied to the innovation economy – including scientific R&D, engineering, software and cybersecurity – position the region to benefit disproportionately from TPP.

Key findings include:

  • When compared to other TPP member countries, the U.S. has one of the least restrictive markets – it is easier for foreign markets to export to the U.S. than it is for U.S. companies to send their products abroad.
  • More than 97 percent of San Diego’s exports – primarily high-value advanced manufacturing products – are sold in TPP markets and are collectively worth $22 billion.
  • Enhanced IP protections would benefit San Diego’s innovation economy; San Diego is the third most patent intensive region in the world and five times more specialized in scientific R&D than the nation as a whole.
  • Increased export growth could produce real rising wages for 150,000 high-wage jobs in the region’s manufacturing and innovation sectors.
  • San Diego’s service-providing sector – generally non-traded industries accounting for 87 percent of total employment – is largely insulated from foreign competition. 
August 4, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

With a metro ranking of #3 for cleantech leadership and one of the few cities in the world aiming for 100 percent clean energy utilization by 2035, it’s no surprise that San Diego is a hotbed of green and sustainable tech innovation. And with this year’s MetroConnect cohort representing an impressive cross-section of the region’s burgeoning industries, we’ve found a strong example of said innovation in LED lighting company Hyperikon.

Sorrento Valley-based Hyperikon’s mission statement is a simple one – Greener. Cheaper. Smarter. When creating their sustainable lighting solutions for both home and office, quality is the company’s top consideration. Distributed primarily via Amazon’s online channels, Hyperikon’s products have been met with rave reviews – so much so, that Hyperikon’s products were the online giant’s top seller under the “Tools & Home Improvement” department earlier this year.

Jeppe Lisdorf, the company’s VP of finance, didn’t always envision a career in the cleantech sector. Hailing from Denmark, Lisdorf was originally trained as a journalist and later made the switch to banking on Wall Street. With an infectious smile and overwhelmingly positive attitude that makes one think he’d probably succeed in any industry he put his mind to, Lisdorf notes that his Danish roots were a deciding factor in his move into the green lighting space.

Lisdorf explains, “Many people here don’t know it, but Denmark has a huge cleantech cluster. When I was considering putting down roots in San Diego, I met with a fellow Dane who happened to be one of the founders of Hyperikon. Considering our shared experiences and the fact that sustainability has always been top of mind for me, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to help grow a unique and important technology.

Considering its success with Amazon domestically, Hyperikon plans to utilize the MetroConnect grant, in part, to help boost its activities with the online retailers in other countries, including Mexico, Canada and eventually Japan. And with sales activity strong, Hyperikon is beginning to think about capacity expansion, both from a customer service and warehousing perspective. With the market for LED lighting showing no signs of slowing down, Hyperikon is well positioned to continue its impressive growth streak and be a valued example of San Diego’s cleantech scene.

 

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Rough Draft Brewing Company are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.