Voters Narrow Field to Top 16 Coolest Products Made in Illinois

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

April 5, 2022 – With almost 110,000 votes cast, the field of contenders competing in the third 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 celebrates the incredible work of manufacturers across Illinois, which has long served as the backbone of our state’s economy and is helping lead our recovery from the pandemic. Illinois manufacturers produce everything from life-saving vaccines and medical treatments to boundary-breaking electric vehicles and components used for space exploration. Our manufacturers keep store shelves stocked with nutritious food and delectable snacks, as well as create sporting equipment used everywhere from neighborhood fields to professional leagues. They make core structural products from steel, rebar and motors to chemicals and flavorings, and even create high-tech gadgets used for national defense and energy to power our homes and businesses.

More than 400 unique products from every corner of the state were nominated for the 2022 title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. Over the course of two weeks of voting, that field has been narrowed to the Top 16. The top four vote-getters from the initial round of voting are the TCFW375 Series Ice Rink Chiller from Thermal Care, Inc. in Niles, the Libman Tornado Spin Mop from The Libman Company in Arcola, the Orion Spacecraft Capsule’s Aft Bulkhead, Barrel and Tunnel from Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc. in Rockford and the Orion Spacecraft Command Module Control Switches by OTTO Engineering, Inc. in Carpentersville.

“While it’s time to narrow the competition, every nominee for The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois deserves to be celebrated 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 our factory floors who strive every day to make the world a better place,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.  “As we take time to celebrate our state’s manufacturing industry, it’s also important we focus on policies to grow jobs and encourage investment in our communities.”

The Makers Madness Top 16 matchups are as follows:

Bracket A:

  • TCFW375 Series Ice Rink Chiller (Thermal Care, Inc., Niles) v. (4) Power-Grip LB-7Gx2 Lift Magnet (Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc., Rockford)
  • Combine (John Deere, Moline) v. (3) Fruit by the Foot (General Mills, Belvidere)

Bracket B:

  • Libman Tornado Spin Mop (The Libman Company, Arcola) v. (4) TexWalk Print Media (Jessup Manufacturing Company, McHenry)
  • R1T (Rivian, Normal) v. (3) Jackpoint Jackstands (Jackpoint Jackstands LLC, Montgomery)

Bracket C:

  • Orion Spacecraft Capsule’s Aft Bulkhead, Barrel and Tunnel (Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., Rockford) v. (4) Camper Van Foldaway Seat with Table (Freedman Seating Company, Chicago)
  • Bison Pull-Tight Pool Cover Gearmotor (Bison Gear & Engineering Corp., St. Charles) v. (3) Rapid Freeze Flake Ice Maker – 1000 – RLE (Howe Corporation, Chicago)

Bracket D:

  • Orion Spacecraft Command Module Control Switches (Otto Engineering, Inc., Carpentersville) v. Custom Semi-Trailer Bar (Onken’s Incorporated, Easton) (4)
  • D11 Track Type Tractor (Caterpillar, Inc., East Peoria) v. (3) Custom Blazed Diffraction Gratings (Inprentus Precision Optics, Champaign)

Voting for this round is now open and will take place at through 11:59 p.m. on April 10. Voters may cast one vote per day in each of the eight head-to-head match-ups 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 an awards ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on April 27 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“I’m really excited about all the entries. They show not only the depth and breadth of what’s made here, but that Illinois is truly a national manufacturing leader and trendsetter.” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “Congratulations to the Top 16 teams. May the coolest things move on to the next round!”

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 562,000 women and men in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, providing $52 billion in wages and benefits.

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains dynamic and strong, the IMA is working to implement several measures to grow manufacturing in Illinois. One key proposal is the MICRO Act, which would create tax incentives for companies to produce semiconductors and microchips in Illinois. Increasing production of these vital components in Illinois would help ease supply chain issues by ensuring access is not controlled by a handful of overseas providers.

The IMA is also backing legislation that would make permanent and modernize a tax credit that incentivizes manufacturers and other companies to invest in research and development projects in Illinois. This will encourage manufacturers to continue to invest in their communities by launching product studies, researching new technologies and testing revolutionary products right here at home.

In addition, the IMA is partnering with lawmakers and the governor’s office to fund a statewide marketing campaign to attract people to manufacturing careers. As workforce shortages continue to plague nearly every manufacturing sector, the marketing campaign will help introduce manufacturing careers to a wider audience.

Timeline of events:

March 2 – March 20: Nominations accepted at

March 22 – April 3: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

April 5 – April 10: First round of voting to determine Top 8

April 12 – April 17: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

April 19 – April 24: Final round of voting

April 27: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois announced during awards ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion

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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