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SANDY — Mark Harling wasn’t 100 percent sure his trailers stood a chance against ice cream sandwiches and the extravagant tech products produced in the state when his daughter nominated his business for the Coolest Thing Made in Utah contest.
However, his business, Bean Trailer, bested the field of more than 200 other products to claim the first-ever title of the contest, which was created by Utah Manufacturers Association. The company received its trophy during a celebration at the We Are The Utah Manufacturers Association Expo at the Mountain America Exposition Center Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s super exciting, especially considering we competed against so many amazing companies,” said Harling, president and owner of Bean Trailer. “There are so many great products made here in the state of Utah. To be nominated with them was a privilege. To win the whole thing was completely unimaginable (for) us.”
Bean Trailer is based in Salt Lake City, has more than 100 employees, and has been around for nearly 20 years, according to Harling. They produce a teardrop trailer that he described as “a modern interpretation of a classic design.”
“I’m a minimalist by heart, so I wanted to design a trailer that had everything you needed and nothing you don’t,” Harling explained. “So we basically did a trailer that’s going to be durable. It’s a one-piece fiberglass shell construction and one I’d be proud to use.”
UMA announced the contest in February. In all, 222 products made in Utah were nominated, according to Todd Bingham, president and CEO of the organization. Those included everything from trailers to candy, names tags and even houseboats.
The goal was to highlight all the manufacturing done in the state.
“We thought, initially, that we’d get 75 to 80 products nominated. We had 222, which blew our expectations out of the water,” Bingham said. “I think it’s a snapshot of seeing all the cool things made in Utah — many of which were consumer products that the public uses every day but they know nothing about them.”
Over the past few weeks, those companies were whittled to 25, then to 10 and eventually three by Wednesday. In addition to Bean Trailer, Capstone Nutrition chewable vitamins and Edwards Lifesciences’ transcatheter heart valve frame and commander delivery system were finalists in the contest.
I think (the contest is) a snapshot of seeing all the cool things made in Utah — many of which were consumer products that the public uses every day but they know nothing about them.
–Todd Bingham, president and CEO of Utah Manufacturers Association
Bingham said there were more than 150,000 website visits during the voting process.
Even as the president of the manufacturing organization, he learned of new products he had no idea were made in Utah. It's partially because many important products made in Utah just aren’t seen that much, he added.
Harling felt the same way.
“There were some incredible houseboats and bulletproof vehicles and other kinds of vehicles I had no idea were designed and manufactured here,” he said. “It was super cool.”
Bingham hopes the contest helped Utahns learn a little bit more about the state’s manufacturing sector. He believes the whole thing was a success and hopes to do the contest again in the future.
“I hope it raised awareness for the general public that we do make a lot of products here in the state of Utah and here in the U.S.,” Bingham said. “Contrary to popular belief, not everything is made overseas. Many, many things are made here, and we’re grateful they are.”