There is a lot to like about Zogics, and it only begins with its roughly $10 million in annual sales.
Zogics is a Lee-based company that produces eco-friendly gym wipes, towels and linens as well as fitness and personal care products (Eagle, June 1). CEO Paul LeBlanc founded it in his garage in Richmond 10 years ago, and the company now employs 15 and has grown at an average of 20 to 40 percent annually over the past decade.
Successful Berkshire manufacturers over the last century have generally been home-grown, and Zogics is a model for what a contemporary small Berkshire manufacturer can be. Mr. LeBlanc, a former champion bicyclist from the Boston area, told The Eagle that the "rich lifestyle" of the Berkshires appealed to him, and the natural beauty and cultural attractions are indeed selling points. Zogics appears to have an appropriately laid-back, dog-friendly Berkshire vibe.
Berkshire County is fortunate to have institutions that attract gifted people to the area, which helped Zogics' growth. Ethiopia-born data scientist Arsema Abegaz went to Williams College and business development manager Agessa Hughmanick, who holds a degree in dance as well as entrepreneurship and finance, performed at Jacob's Pillow. Staffers are generally in their 20s to 40s, a demographic the Berkshires desperately needs to expand.
Ideally, Zogics will continue to succeed and grow while deepening its roots in the Berkshires. Other small companies may find the Berkshires attractive for the same reasons that appeal to Zogics, a process that will be advanced if the state stops stalling broadband growth in hill towns that want and need it. A Berkshire economic revival will come from a variety of fronts, and small manufacturers must play a key role.