Voters Narrow Field to Top 16 Coolest Products Made in Illinois

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

SPRINGFIELD – With more than 122,000 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, who have long served as the backbone of our state’s economy. Manufacturing is the largest contributor of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, supporting nearly a third of all jobs in Illinois and contributing more than $580 billion to the state’s economy each year.

More than 200 unique products from across the state were nominated for the 2024 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 BoulePro 200AX manufactured by USACH in Elgin; Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing made by Mullen’s in Palestine; P15 Tamper Evident Cap and Spout for Flexible Pouch Packaging manufactured by Hoffer Plastics Corporation in South Elgin; and the Gindo’s Hot Sauce made by Gindo’s Spice of Life in St. Charles.

“These products represent the diversity and creativity of Illinois’ manufacturing industry, which is the heartbeat of our state’s economy and central to the success of communities large and small,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

“We congratulate the innovators who made it to the Top 16 and applaud the hard work of women and men on factory floors throughout Illinois. As we showcase these impressive products, we remain committed to working with policymakers to pass legislation that will help the manufacturing sector grow for generations to come.”

Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association

The Makers Madness Top 16 matchups are as follows:

Bracket A:

  • BoulePro 200AX (USACH, Elgin) v. (4) Smart Handle (Aisin Mfg. Illinois/Aisin Electronics Illinois, Marion)
  • Continental Truck Tire (Continental Tire, Mt. Vernon) v. (3) Komatsu Mining Truck (Komatsu, Peoria)

Bracket B:

  • Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing (Mullen’s, Palestine) v. (4) Nature Valley Bars (General Mills, Nature Valley, Belvidere)
  • D11 Dozer (Caterpillar, Peoria) v. (3) Vulcan Rocket Thruster Launchers (Chemring Energetic Devices, Downers Grove)

Bracket C:

  • P15 Tamper Evident Cap and Spout for Flexible Pouch Packaging (Hoffer Plastics Corporation, South Elgin) v. (4) MQ-25 Stingray (Drone Refueler) (Boeing, Mascoutah)
  • Driver Assist System – 100 Degree Camera (ZF, Marshall) v. (3) ActivWall (Aurora Storage Products Inc., Aurora)

Bracket D:

  • Gindo’s Hot Sauce (Gindo’s Spice of Life, St. Charles) v. (4) JAWS Pinball Machine (Stern Pinball, Elk Grove Village)
  • Nerds Gummy Clusters (Ferrara Candy Company, Forest Park) v. (3) Mod Box by Enviro Buildings (Craig Industries, Quincy)

Voting for the next round is now open and will take place at www.makersmadnessil.com through 11:59 p.m. on March 24. 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 10 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“We are watching with excitement as voting in the competition moves to the next stage,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “The Top 16 products demonstrate that Illinois manufacturers are at the cutting-edge of creativity and technology.”

“We are proud to support manufacturing across the state and help highlight the industry’s local innovations through the Makers Madness contest.”

Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains strong, the IMA is advocating for the passage of several measures this legislative session. Priorities include proposals to support students and families entering the workforce through student loan employer tax credits and scholarships, advancing the development of cutting-edge technology by modernizing the state’s Research & Development tax credit, and allowing carbon capture and sequestration to help the state reach its clean energy goals.

Previous contest winners include the Rosenberg Moon Habitat, a 3D printed polymer structure designed to house humans on the moon, manufactured by Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford; 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 14 – March 3: Nominations accepted at www.makersmadnessil.com
  • March 5 – March 17: Voting on nominations to determine the Top 16
  • March 19 – March 24: First round of voting to determine Top 8
  • March 26 – March 31: Second round of voting to determine Top 4
  • April 2 – April 7: Final round of voting
  • April 10: 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 https://ima-net.org/.

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