Earlier this month, we went downtown to Bak USA‘s headquarters, just east of downtown’s central business district, to explore their newly expanded manufacturing facility. Once inside, we experienced a rare, “I don’t feel like I’m in Buffalo” moment.
While we often fall in love with boutique offices, new retail stores and restaurants in the city that are revealing exposed brick and an obsession with Edison lightbulbs, the real, “Is this Buffalo?” moment is felt inside a high-tech manufacturing company like Bak USA. Wide open, brand new, and extremely clean, it’s the kind of workspace we might imagine somewhere else. But, as we learned, sterile environments and lab coats are essential for humans to work alongside robots, dubbed by Bak USA as “Cobotics,” to produce tablets that are built to last – and we mean built to last:
While exploring the new workspace, we were greeted by young, energetic staff, eager to show off what these tablets were capable of doing, from controlling hovercraft and drones to powering virtual reality experiences.
Manufacturing happens on Michigan Ave, along with numerous rounds of applications testing. For the tablets to sell at a mass scale, they need to be attractive to individual consumers as well as companies and municipalities around the globe who will purchase at a larger scale and use them to power a range of high tech functions. Can you imagine if your job was to ensure your product was universally applicable to all makes and models of drones by flying them around all day using the tablet made just down the hall?
The irony of feeling like you’re not in Buffalo when we entered the facility is that the company’s employees throughout the room were indeed the face of Buffalo. Believing that diversity is strength, Bak USA purposely hires from a diverse field of backgrounds and skill levels. Upon giving his remarks to the media present that night, Bak USA Chief Technology Officer Christian Bak said, “We draw from talent around the world… from talent across the socioeconomic spectrum. We do not close any door.”
That is evident in their Team Page:
It’s also evident in a story we published in our first issue of No Boundaries in October 2016, “Buffalo, Bak USA, and the American Dream” in which we explored the success the company found by hiring from a diverse pool, including refugees with limited language skills and zero prior technological skills to build tablets upon arrival:
In the words of President Ulla Bak, “They said it couldn’t be done in America, but we are making tablets in Buffalo!”
That is the message Bak USA takes with them to Buffalo Public Schools and local charter schools, telling students that high tech manufacturing jobs do exist in our city, that you don’t need to look elsewhere for them. Getting that message out early and often can have a profound effect on the future of our city’s young adults, and the confidence that other companies have to expand current operations or open here in the first place. Watch Bak USA continue to lead by example and find success by overturning stereotypes in the months and years to come.