A blue star of light reached from Rodney Livingston's welding torch like a glowing insect across the factory floor.
As the glare receded, the 45,000-square-foot factory on Merced's south side came into view: stacks of windows leaned against one another. Silver aluminum skylight frames were stacked on the ground.
The busy sounds of manufacturing filled the air. Saws chewed at glass, drills punched into aluminum and several radios blared their competing noise, as a building full of men at work buzzed with energy.
For more than a decade, the family-run O'Keeffe's Inc. has built things here.
This specialty window, ladder and skylight manufacturer, based in San Francisco, employs 75 people at its only manufacturing location in Merced.
Even as the economy slows, O'Keeffe's continues to make doors, ladders and windows.
While the clichéd images of shuttered factories and offshore production have filled the national consciousness for the past 30 years, small niche manufacturers like O'Keeffe's have expanded their operations and kept jobs in America. In this case, it means good paying jobs hereabouts.
"We are one of the highest-paying manufacturers in the Valley," said the plant's manager, Ron Drew.
As factories close or lay off their work force in Merced, O'Keeffe's plans to expand. It may even buy a closed building across the road now that it has been shuttered, said Drew.
Read the complete story at mercedsunstar.com