Voters Narrow Field to Top 16 Coolest Products Made in Illinois

Makers Madness Top 16

“Makers Madness” Contest Lets Public Decide The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

March 2, 2021 – With nearly 100,000 votes cast, the field of contenders competing in the second annual “Makers Madness” contest has been narrowed to the Top 16. Hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, “Makers Madness” is a bracket-style tournament in which voters across the state will decide which product is The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Presented by Comcast Business, the competition shines a light on Illinois’ diverse manufacturing sector, which has played a critical role in the state and nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers are developing life-saving vaccines and treatments, producing needed personal protective equipment, keeping store shelves stocked with important goods and nutritious foods and powering our homes and businesses.

Over the course of two weeks, voters whittled the field of 311 nominated products down to the Top 16. The top four vote-getters from the initial round of voting are the Ford Bronco Headlight produced by North American Lighting, Inc. in Paris; the HD IP Display made by Advanced Network Devices in Arlington Heights; the Azteca Form, Bake and Fill Crispy Shell from Azteca Foods in Forest View; and the Caterpillar D11 Dozer made by Caterpillar, Inc. in East Peoria.

Voting for this round is now open and will take place at through 11:59 p.m. on March 7. Voters may cast one vote per day in each of the eight head-to-head contests between individual products. Consecutive rounds of voting will take place each week, with vote totals reset to zero at the beginning of each round. The contest will culminate with a virtual awards ceremony on March 24 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“Makers Madness is a wonderful way to celebrate Illinois’ innovative and diverse manufacturing sector. While it’s time to narrow the competition, every nominee for The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois deserves our recognition and appreciation for their creativity, ingenuity, and innovation. Manufacturers truly are the powerhouse of our state’s economy, and we extend our thanks to the hardworking men and women on factory floors who strive every day to make the world a better place,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Just as manufacturers led our state and nation through the pandemic, they will also lead our economic recovery and we look forward to working to lawmakers to implement policies that grow jobs and encourage investment in our communities.”

“Congratulations to the teams of the Top 16 Coolest Things Made in Illinois, and to every Makers Madness nominee,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “Comcast Business is proud to be part of Makers Madness, providing well-deserved recognition for manufacturers across the state who are leading Illinois and the rest of the nation into the future.”

The Makers Madness Top 16 matchups are as follows:

Bracket A:

  • Ford Bronco Headlight (North American Lighting, Inc., Paris) v. (4) Nerds Gummy Clusters Candy (Ferrara Candy Company, Bellwood)


  • Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater (Termico Technologies, Elk Grove Village) v. (3) 980E-5 Electric Drive Truck (Komatsu America Corp., Peoria)


Bracket B:

  • HD IP Display (Advanced Network Devices, Arlington Heights) v. (4) Blistex Lip Ointment (Blistex Inc., Oak Brook)


  • Giant Magellan Telescope (Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc., Rockford) v. (3) Robotic Assembly (Versatech, LLC., Effingham)


Bracket C:

  • Azteca Form, Bake and Fill Crispy Shell (Azteca Foods, Forest View) v. (4) Jessup The Original Griptape (Jessup Manufacturing Company, McHenry)


  • Orion Spacecraft Command Module Control Switches (OTTO Engineering, Carpentersville) v. (3) Custom Tooling (Deco Manufacturing Company, Decatur)


Bracket D:

  • Caterpillar D11 Dozer (Caterpillar, Inc., East Peoria) v. (4) 4000-RL-CO2DX Flake Ice Machine (Howe Corporation, Chicago)


  • Accuchiller KSE Series Packaged Outdoor Chiller (Thermal Care, Inc., Niles) v. (3) Nuclear Power (Exelon Corporation, Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle, and Quad Cities.)

Statewide, manufacturing generates more than $304 billion in economic output, contributing 12 percent to the state’s Gross Domestic Product – the largest share of any industry in Illinois. Manufacturers employ 556,300 women and men in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, providing $52 billion in wages and benefits.

Though manufacturing remains an economic powerhouse in Illinois, manufacturers here and across the country are facing the threat of an aging workforce. Over the next decade, it is estimated that 300,000 men and women will leave the industry as baby boomers begin to retire, presenting numerous career opportunities. Nationally, there are 460,000 open manufacturing jobs today.

In 2020, Caterpillar’s 797F Large Mining Truck was crowned “The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois” after nearly 300,000 votes.

Timeline of events:

January 27 – February 14: Nominations accepted at

February 17 – February 28: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 2 – March 7: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 9 – March 14: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 16 – March 21: Final round of voting

March 24: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois Announced

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit


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