Northway Products of Mukilteo promotes culture and work ethic in aerospace components manufacturing.
Aleksey Voytukhov (Aleks) is the general manager at Northway Products in Mukilteo, Washington. Voytukhov is originally from Ukraine but has been a U.S. citizen since the mid-1990s. He worked his way up from floor manager to site manager for a prior company, before coming to Northway Products four years ago. Voytukhov remembers being raised in Ukraine. He said that when he was growing up, children were taught hands-on skills such as carpentry or car repair, as early as eight years old.
The owners of Northway Products, also from Ukraine and Russia, have been in the U.S. as citizens for most of their careers. The company’s employees have a work ethic and a commitment to solid company culture. They are proud of their quality, competitiveness, and camaraderie.
Machinist Phil Timm has been with the company for three years. He has been working as a machinist and welder for 50 years, and he loves the environment of Northway. He said, “The quality of the stuff that we are proud to put out to our customers — the variety of work (we) get to do — is not mundane.” He said he was proud of the team, saying, “We all have each other’s best interest.”
Sales Manager, Yan Lopatin, is a mechanical engineer by trade and speaks English, Russian, some Spanish, and Ukrainian. He has been with the company for close to three years. He has worked for Seattle Metals and Modern Metals. He is also proud of the employees. He said the owners hold several companies and, interestingly, one of the businesses started as a residential siding company. As they grew the business, they began welding rails in the garage.
They were then hired for metal production. As the company expanded and family members became involved, they acquired Northway Products of Mukilteo, an already existing company. Then seven years ago, the original owner of Northway sold the business to the current owners.
Voytukhov said that the owners understand hard work and the American work ethic. He said people of Slavic descent are hard-working people. When they were growing up during the communist era, “You couldn’t own things; they would split the wealth between the common folks. If you had too many chickens, the communists would take them away.” But Lopatin added that all employees have been hard-working.
He cited that in the U.S., employees of companies and entrepreneurs have the option to work hard and find success. “In the Slavic communities, you have many construction people who can find solutions to problems,” Voytukhov said. He said it is because of their early training that “they are handy.” So, although it was rare for him in Ukraine to witness entrepreneurs building a business or company, he recognizes hard work.
Lopatin said that Northway was almost exclusively focused on aerospace before the pandemic. During and after the pandemic, he said they needed to diversify, a sentiment echoed by many in the aerospace industry over the past two years.
Northway offers services for the medical industry. They produce parts for the optometry industry, specifically for Ocular Instruments, the manufacturer of diagnostic, laser, and surgical lenses for ophthalmologists and optometrists. Lisa Graham, purchasing agent for Ocular, is a Northway customer, buying machined anodized handles, lockrings, cones, sleeves, etc., for use in ocular devices. She appreciates Northway because, “As a medical device manufacturer where the end user is a doctor, we require high-quality parts. Northway understands this and provides excellent, quality products for us. If there is a problem, they work well with us to provide a solution.” She is also impressed with their ability to meet delivery requirements, adding, “Depending on these devices’ sales trends; it is tough to forecast. Northway will work with us to rearrange delivery schedules to meet our manufacturing needs.”
Cadence Aerospace of Anaheim, California, a Boeing Tier 1 supplier, is a valued Northway aerospace industry customer. Cadence Buyer, Daniel Klinicke, works in the Arden division of the company. He purchases parts from Northway, such as bolts, brackets, and clevises, for Boeing commercial aircraft 767, 777, and 787s. He always gives them a good reference because, “They are easy to work with, set up (the project), and are very responsive.” He works primarily with Lopatin, whom he said is an asset because, “Working with Yan as an engineer, he helps me understand his challenges and I can work with my engineers to relay any issues that arise.” While Klinicke hasn’t been to Mukilteo to meet with the Northway team, he said he values their expediency and flexibility.
Lopatin notes that Northway is flexible and offers a solid quality assurance program, saying, “We take pride in the quality of the parts.” The company places high value on the caliber of their products and prompt lead time, which both Ocular and Cadence reflected favorably upon.
Northway is a build-to-spec company, from hand drawings to electronic and 3D models. Some of the military parts deal with sensitive information and their long-term employees are thorough when reviewing designs, calling out any errors or concerns.
They have four mills and can machine parts from every angle.
They have 11 turning machines and seven screw machines. They jokingly call the screw machines “dinosaurs” because they are older, but “They run flawlessly and fast,” said Voytukhov. He added they can offer “Milling, turning — and take care of the complete product — heat treating, inspections, and go through subassembly.”
Their staff is small, with only 15 people in manufacturing and five office staff, but they work to celebrate employee successes and milestones routinely. Lopatin indicated that they have expansion goals, although staffing growth slowed considerably during the pandemic before ramping up again. Lopatin shared that they are building the business through marketing efforts like trade shows and involvement in regional trade groups.
People In Our Purpose Humility That Puts Others First
Our company sees the people behind every contract and every order and seeks to enrich the lives of the people we work with. We value humility and put other people first in all we do. If you’re in it to serve, you’ll feel at home at Northway Products.
Excellence in Our Products Hard Work That is Results Driven
We understand that a reputation is built over time and can be ruined overnight. We want satisfied customers to reinforce the importance of quality and timeliness with Northway Products. We commit to exceeding people’s expectations with hard work and continual improvement. At Northway Products, excellence is not simply a profit tool. It is a way of life.
Integrity in Our Practice Honesty That Gains People’s Trust
We work with a focus on long-term, sustainable results that seek to cultivate trustworthy and lasting relationships with all the people we work with. Honesty, transparency, and authenticity are principles that we hold to and operate under.
Lopatin also said that they obtain new customers through referral relationships. In situations where a customer moves to another company, many continue to work with Northway in the new company. The owners of Northway and the employees said that it was decided early on, that the company wouldn’t just be in it to make a profit. They wanted to “bless people’s lives,” said Lopatin. They endeavor to hire people who may not otherwise be likely to work in a growing aerospace company. “Maybe they weren’t the best people or had different backgrounds,” he said. He feels that the company helps them to develop and become better, more pleasant to talk to, and more enjoyable.
“As we do these products,” he said, “We want to better the people around us — to bless the lives of the people around us.”
In fact, during the interview process, they conduct a “pre-hiring interview” where, “We talk to people first, get their stories.” Next, they present their principles to sense if the candidate likes their approach. “I was interviewing someone who assumed we wouldn’t hire him because he had been fired. Not every business will hire certain people, but we will develop work ethic and character.”
Voytukhov said, “We have a weekly meeting to discuss our principles and values. As we bring changes in slowly, initially people who push back, they became more friendly and part of the team.
Machine shops are not pleasant places to work in, so when people come in, we smile, and they smile; that’s our approach.”
The weekly meetings, the values discussions, the potlucks, and shared meals all seem to add up to a small, yet growing company focused on quality, competitiveness, and camaraderie within the Northwest’s excellent aerospace industry.
Contact Information Northway Products
11027 47th Ave West
Mukilteo, WA 98275