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Specialty Goods Produce Results For Companies

While San Diego’s manufacturing sector continues a downward slide, there are obvious winners, such as specialty goods makers like Taylor Guitars, beer maker Stone Brewing Co. and Scantibodies Laboratory Inc., which makes medical diagnostic kits.

Also within this business group — and ranked No. 2 on the list — is electric components distributor OneSource Distributors LLC, which did $416 million in sales last year, up 24 percent from 2010.

CEO Bob Zamarripa said OSD has enjoyed about 14 percent annual compounded growth over the last 10 years, growing even during times when many other businesses were shrinking.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Zamarripa said. “One of the best things about OneSource is that we never focused on commercial and residential construction so we avoided a lot of the problems that obviously affected those areas.”

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Powerful Clients

In fact, in recent years, OSD has seen increased sales through a new division focused on supplying power companies with electric components. The clients include the three largest public electric utilities in the state — San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Besides providing a range of electric devices to the utilities, OSD also does some contract assembly of larger devices for clients.

All told, the company has 348 employees, including 260 in the county at three sites including its headquarters in Oceanside. It operates 13 offices nationally and four distribution centers in the nation.

Despite a still uncertain economy last year, Taylor Guitars in El Cajon grew its sales by a remarkable 29 percent as it churned out 110,000 guitars that went to music store dealers around the globe, reaching about $85 million in revenue.

“The overall (musical instrument) industry is up a little bit. It seems to do well in recessions,” said Barbara Wight, Taylor’s chief financial officer.

Taylor, the largest maker of acoustic guitars in the nation, sells its guitars in some 55 countries, and has a European distribution center in Amsterdam.

In recent years, it’s seen increased sales in both Europe and Japan, as well as continued growth in this country, said Keith Brawley, vice president of sales.

The increased production (it’s on track to reach 130,000 guitars this year) also resulted in increased hiring. Taylor boosted its total employment to 765 as of last month. At its headquarters in El Cajon, the headcount is up by 22 people over the past year to bring the total to 390, Wight said.

Always Something Brewing

Escondido-based Stone Brewing Co. had so much on its plate this year it had to throttle back from one its more audacious plans — building a satellite brewery in Germany.

While those plans are on hold, Stone is quite busy. It just broke ground on planned brewery at Liberty Station, and last month on a new $10 million packaging and bottling plant next to its World Bistro and Gardens and main brewery. Next year, Stone will break ground on 50-room boutique hotel next to its headquarters.

Says co-founder and Chief Executive Greg Koch on the hotel: “We thought it would be cool…People come to visit us from literally all over the world.”

Last year, Stone produced 148,000 barrels of beer, ranking it in 17th place among national craft brewers. Koch said it expects to hit about 180,000 barrels this year.

The business that now employs 490 people did nearly $84 million in revenue last year for No. 23 on the list. That was 34 percent better than 2010 revenue of $62 million.

Another East County manufacturer that continues growing was founded, like so many other great enterprises, in the garage of its founders, Tom Cantor and Cheryl Cantor.

Last year, Scantibodies posted annual revenue of nearly $63 million, up 9 percent from its 2010 revenue, and enough to rank it at No. 26 among the area’s Largest Private Companies.

The Santee-based makers of diagnostic testing kits that cover a wide range of diseases and pregnancy, Scantibodies’ main focus is the creation and harvesting of antibodies, which are biologic ingredients required as part of many medical tests.

The process of creating these essential ingredients entails injecting various compounds into animals including goats, sheep and mice so that they generate the antibodies needed for the tests.

A true global business that sells its products to medical device makers throughout the world, Scantibodies has a plant in Tecate, which is in the process of expanding, as well as one in Ethiopia.

Last year, it opened up a biologics site in El Cajon aimed at the collection of blood plasma.

Its total employment worldwide today is 775, up from about 650 about a year ago. About 300 of those workers are local.

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