ODESSA — A small Pasco company has been tapped as Florida's "manufacturer of the year.''
PharmaWorks Inc. received the award at the annual Manufacturers Association of Florida convention in Orlando. The Odessa company won the award for businesses with up to 60 workers.
More than 16,000 of the state's 17,573 manufacturing companies fall into that category, says a PharmaWorks Web site. Given that competition, company president Peter Buczynsky said he is "especially honored" to receive the award.
Though the honor is nice, Buczynsky said the real benefit was an in-depth interview from trade group officials that gave him feedback and recommendations about various aspects of his business. "Just the evaluation itself is gold," he said on Tuesday.
Three other companies received awards: Goodrich Corp. of Jacksonville, Faro Technologies Inc. of Lake Mary, and Nipro Diagnostics Inc. of Fort Lauderdale.
Founded in 2001, PharmaWorks repairs large machines that seal pills into plastic and foil blister packages. (The reason they're so hard to open? Buczynsky points to child safety regulations.) The company, which moved from Hillsborough to Pasco in 2005, also builds its own line of equipment. The company employs 55 people and did roughly $11 million in sales this year.
Buczynsky said one of the biggest reasons companies like his can't grow faster is a "talent gap." Local students across Florida — not just Pasco — don't have enough training to fill high-tech jobs when they graduate.
"Everybody's screaming for the same thing," he said. "It's talent, lack of talent."
PharmaWorks is one of two businesses that partners with the River Ridge High School engineering academy. Buczynsky wants more companies to sponsor activities such as robotics competitions, and he is working to create a program where students can work as apprentices inside Pasco's small manufacturing companies.
"We're trying to get industry engaged with education," he said. "It's a real mind set change."
Lee Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.