The winners of the 7th annual Cincy Magazine MANNY Awards, which celebrates manufacturing excellence in the Tristate, come in many sizes and product categories, but what they share is a reliance on good ideas and good people.

It was a theme echoed by each of the 15 Tristate manufacturers recognized at the awards dinner at the Sharonville Convention Center on June 4. Three winners were picked by a panel of judges in each of five categories: best place to work, biggest breakthrough, new job creation, new product development/innovation and top growth from among 50 nominations.

Mirroring the breadth and depth of Tristate manufacturing, this year's MANNY class included one of its oldest employers, Emery Oleochemicals in St. Bernard, which traces its roots to 1840; its consumer products industries, French-based cosmetics maker L'Oreal USA in Florence; its entrepreneur economy, Salamander Sinkers in Evendale, and its fastest growing, Mason-based Intelligrated Inc.

"Our founders (CEO Chris Cole and President Jim McCarthy) will tell you our success is due to our associates, now 2,300 strong," said Jerry Koch, marketing director for Intelligrated, in accepting a top growth MANNY for the manufacturer of automated material handling equipment.

Innovations may start as simple ideas "but they don't happen without a lot of significant effort," said Scott Aston, vice president of bridge structures at West Chester-based Contech Engineered Solutions, recognized for innovation for its new line of pre-cast bridges.

"We've doubled our sales each of the last four years and that's due to our customer support staff, our engineers, our sales people and the people who make our product. This is their award," said Dan Houchin, sales manager for West Chester-based Star Manufacturing, a top growth winner for three consecutive years.

Keynote speaker Greg Morris, a leader in strategy and business development in additive technologies at GE Aviation, offered insight into the development and potential of additive manufacturing, the process of creating three dimensional objects in hair-thin layers of material rather than the traditional practice of cutting or shaping parts out of a solid piece of metal or plastic.

Morris, who launched a rapid prototyping company that introduced the first metal sintering technology to North America a decade ago, said additive manufacturing dramatically reduces the cost, time and material needed to make prototypes and limited-run parts.

It has applications ranging from customized toys and trinkets to next-generation jet engine nozzles. Some traditional machining and injection molding manufacturers fear it could put them out of business.

Morris, who sold his companies to GE Aviation last fall, said while additive manufacturing will be disruptive in some industries, it will complement rather than replace traditional machining, casting and injection molding processes.

"It's not something to be ignored. But you shouldn't fear it either. Embrace it," he said.

The first MANNY Hall of Fame Leadership Award was presented to George Leasure, founder and chairman of Lebanon-based GMi Companies. Leasure, 81, started the former Ghent Manufacturing with just six employees in 1976 to produce dry-erase boards and other equipment for the office and school markets. Within five years, Ghent, which changed its name to GMi in 2011, was named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies.

Leasure was recognized for his leadership, contribution to Tristate manufacturing and inspiration to others.

"Leaders aren't successful without a lot of support. It's something I've certainly had," he said.