Voters Narrow Field to Top 16 Coolest Products Made in Illinois

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

March 7, 2023 – With almost 100,000 votes cast, the field of contenders competing in the fourth 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. Manufacturers have long served as the backbone of our state’s economy and they produce everything from nutritious food and snacks to life-saving vaccines and medical treatments to electric vehicles, sporting equipment and structural products like steel, rebar and motors to chemicals and high-tech gadgets used for national defense and energy to power homes and businesses. A recent study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

Nearly 250 unique products from across the state were nominated for the 2023 title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. After two weeks of voting, the field has been narrowed to the Top 16. The top four vote-getters from the initial round of voting are the Accuchiller NQ Series Brewery & Distillery Glycol Chiller manufactured by Thermal Care in Niles; the Jessup Safety Track Recon by Jessup Manufacturing in McHenry; Hummer EV Headlights by North American Lighting in Salem; and the Bison PowerSTAR Coffee Roasting Gearmotor made by Bison Gear & Engineering Corp in St. Charles.

“It’s mind-blowing to see the variety of products nominated for this year’s title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. We are excited to showcase and celebrate these products and the remarkable men and women on our factory floors who manufacture them every day,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturers are the major driving force of our state’s economy and as we move to the next stage of the competition, we also want to keep focus on policies that support manufacturers and can help produce a pipeline of skilled talent that will maintain Illinois’ status as a hub of technology and innovation.”

The Makers Madness Top 16 matchups are as follows:

Bracket A:

  • Accuchiller NQ Series Brewery & Distillery Glycol Chiller (Thermal Care, Niles) v. (4) Rapid Freeze 51-RL Ice Flaker (Howe Corporation, Chicago)
  • Cook Beacon Tip 5.0 Fr Angiographic Catheter (Cook Medical, Canton) v. (3) Drug Terminator (Elastec, Carmi)

Bracket B:

  • Jessup Safety Track Recon (Jessup Manufacturing, McHenry) v. (4) 17th Street Barbecue Sauces (17th St. BBQ, Murphysboro)
  • Magna-Lock USA Magna-Vise (Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc., Rockford) v. (3) Astro Physics Telescopes (Astro Physics Inc, Machesney Park)

Bracket C:

  • Hummer EV Headlights (North American Lighting, Salem) v. (4) Brew Cave (U.S. Cooler Co Inc, Quincy)
  • Automotive Panoramic Sunroofs (AISIN Mfg. Illinois, Marion) v. (3) 77GHz Radar for Driver’s Assistance and Automated Driving (Hella Electronics Corp, Flora)

Bracket D:

  • Bison PowerSTAR Coffee Roasting Gearmotor (Bison Gear & Engineering Corp, St. Charles) v. (4) 32 Gallon Trash Can and Lid (The Libman Company, Arcola)
  • Rosenberg Moon Habitat (Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc., Rockford) v. (3) JAS Knee (Joint Active Systems Inc, Effingham)

Voting for this round is now open and will take place at through 11:59 p.m. on March 12. 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 March 29 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“The excitement is starting to build,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “My colleagues at Comcast and I are waiting to see how this year’s contest unfolds and how the products and services that are nominated incorporate Internet connectivity and technology.”

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains strong, the IMA is working to pass several measures this legislative session including reforming the state’s biometric information privacy law, modernizing and making permanent Illinois’ Research & Development Tax Credit, creating further workforce development opportunities and providing tax incentives to spur additional Illinois manufacturing.

Previous contest winners include Rivian’s all-electric R1T truck made in Normal, the first all-electric truck in production featuring four motors, with one powering each wheel; the Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater by Termico Technologies in Elk Grove Village, which uses conductive particles to heat traffic signals so they remain free of ice and snow and traffic can safely navigate our roadways; and the 797F Mining Truck manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur, the world’s largest mechanical truck

Timeline of events:

February 2 – February 19: Nominations accepted at

February 21 – March 5: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 7 – March 12: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 14 – March 19: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 21 – March 26: Final round of voting

March 29: 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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