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By admin | May 2, 2014
Bob Christensen

For over half a century GM Nameplate has been serving the manufacturing industry with pride and commitment. To celebrate the company's 60th Anniversary, the team at GMN is shining a spotlight on some of the people who have helped make GMN the success that it is today – GMN Heroes.   

Bob Christensen, who has been with GM Nameplate for 35 years, is a true jack of all trades. His experience at GMN ranges from working on screen printing, color matching, and UV coating lines, to serving as an area manager, and a quality manager. In Bob’s current position as senior automation engineer, he develops and runs testing and automation equipment to improve efficiency and quality in our factories. One of our most recent additions, a state-of-the-art display characterization light lab, was developed and is currently managed by Bob.

The project began when John Deere expressed a need to characterize (test) displays. Bob says the project allowed him to take advantage of his passion for learning, while helping customers.

“We thought that if we developed a good testing system, it would not only be valuable for John Deere, but also for other customers.”

What started as a goal to better serve a GMN customer, has evolved into a state-of-the-art light lab. One of the best in the industry, Bob's light lab now serves a number of customers and helps them ensure exceptional display quality. Bob’s customer service shines through everything he does and the light lab is just one example among many.  

Over the years, Bob’s done a little bit of everything but a few things are clear; he always strives to improve the company’s capabilities and services and he consistently puts the customer first.  Bob used to run GMN's one-man quality department. Years ago, he worked to develop GM Nameplate’s first quality manual, which was needed to present to Boeing. While Bob is no longer in the quality department, he is proud to share how the quality department has moved from a one man show to a robust team that has allowed GM Nameplate to meet twelve different quality standards including AS9100C and ISO:13485.

GMN works to stay up-to-date on industry trends and technologies by encouraging ongoing training and education. Bob mentioned that learning new technologies is one of the highlights of his job and that he appreciates working for a company that drives innovation. GMN customers are part of Bob’s motivation to learn and improve his skills because the more he knows, the better service he can provide.

 “At GM Nameplate we provide great service to our customers. It’s important that if we say we’re going to do something that we follow through. If I’m buying components and find that I’m working with a supplier who isn’t responsive, I will look elsewhere. “

Without the drive and dedication of GM Nameplate’s employees to deliver great solutions and customer support, GMN wouldn’t be where it is today. Bob’s customer commitment and thirst for knowledge is what makes him a true GMN Hero.

By admin | May 1, 2014
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of GMN

May 1, 2014 marks a great milestone for GM Nameplate – our 60th anniversary.

I am proud of the growth and success that the company has enjoyed over the years. What was once a single factory in Seattle, Washington, is now an international company with 8 facilities and 1,100 employees serving a broad spectrum of industries. Beginning as a nameplate manufacturer in 1954, the company has evolved into a premier provider of manufacturing solutions including plastics, nameplates, labels, user interface systems and more.

We are entering our 60th year of business on a high note. This year we have experienced record breaking growth and the fulfillment of nearly 100,000 orders. We also achieved a new quality standard: the Seattle, WA Division met ISO:13485 for medical devices, which compliments the twelve other quality standards that GM Nameplate has met. We have continued to innovate and improve our processes and products, which has allowed us to stay on the forefront of our industry. In addition, the company and its employees were recognized with seven awards including our sixth consecutive Boeing Supplier Excellence Award and John Deere’s Supplier of the Year – Electronic Products.

However, GM Nameplate’s 60th anniversary is more than just a reflection of the past; it is a celebration of the present and the company’s bright future. GM Nameplate’s success can be attributed to two things: stalwart service to customers and our dedicated employees that work day-in and day-out to make outstanding products.

This year GM Nameplate will be celebrating its 60th year in business by recognizing the many faces behind our products. Our employees embody the dedication, spirit and ingenuity that make GM Nameplate great. Visit our blogs throughout the year to learn about the many people that comprise GM Nameplate’s workforce – we call them our GMN heroes.

Don Root, Chairman of the board, GM Nameplate 

By Gerry Gallagher | Feb 6, 2014
Manufacturing decorative and functional parts for gaming consoles

GM Nameplate has been providing components to Microsoft for their Xbox systems since the original device, and including the latest Xbox One. Our China facility manufactures various parts on the Xbox One including a capacitive touch membrane circuit, badging, labels and more.

The flexible circuit is one of the most interesting parts that we manufactured for the device. The circuit utilizes capacitive touch technology for the power on/off and optical disc drive (ODD) eject switch. Utilizing this technology increases durability, as there are no mechanical components and meets all the functional needs of the switch. Our engineering team worked closely with the Xbox team to create a cost effective solution meeting all the performance criteria.

In addition to the flexible circuit we also manufactured two 2D electroform logos (in addition to labels and other components) for the Xbox One console and Kinect device. To meet the desired aesthetic GMN developed a unique process to tint the 2D electroform to achieve Xbox One’s unique dark chrome color. This process can be used to create a variety of shades and colors for 2D electroform parts.  The GMN produced logos can be found on the top of the console and on the Kinect device.

Our work with Microsoft on components for the Xbox One is a great example of how our diverse capabilities can serve multiple needs of a customer – in turn reducing supply chain costs and simplifying logistics. The GMN capabilities featured on the Xbox One can be found on various other products across nearly every industry.

Cynthia Schulte, GMN
By Cynthia Schulte | Jan 3, 2014

GM Nameplate's Seattle division recently met the quality standard for ISO 13485: 2003.  Following the exciting milestone, I took the opportunity to sit down with the division's director of quality, Michael Wodrich. 

Congratulations on achieving ISO 13485:2003.  For those that don’t know, can you explain what it is?

ISO 13485:2003 is the international quality management system standard for the design and manufacturing of medical devices, subassemblies and their components.  Many aspects of the 13485 standard align very well to requirements of the Quality System Regulations (QSRs per 21CFR820) for FDA-regulated products, often referred to as current Good Manufacturing Practices (“cGMPs”).  Companies certified to the 13485 standard can ensure their medical device market and customers that they have a strong business system with procedures in place to demonstrate consistent controls exist to consistently meet applicable specifications and quality requirements.

It is important to recognize that while GM Nameplate is prepared to manage a quality system that maps closely to those QSRs, we deliver only subassemblies and components to FDA-regulated customers. GM Nameplate is not currently producing regulated medical device products and therefore we’re exempt from those federal QSRs, but we still use them as guidance.

Why did GM Nameplate pursue ISO 13485? 

We sought ISO 13485 to pursue even better alignment with our customers and their quality systems, which are driven by federal requirements.  The 13485 standard is generally harmonized with ISO 9001 but promotes greater awareness and emphasis on cGMPs to ensure there is a system in place to consistently produce safe and consistently reliable products for the medical devices market.

As a supplier to the medical industry, we are exempt from the QSR requirements which drive many of our customers.  However, it is important to us that we support our customers, understand their requirements, and align with their needs.  By meeting the standards set for ISO 13485 we are better positioned to serve our customers across the medical device industry. 

This also sets us apart from our peers in the industry.  Few competitors have the same level of quality systems in place.      

How is it different from other quality standards that GM Nameplate already meets? 

ISO 13485 is specific to the quality management system requirements for medical device manufacturers (sub-assembly and component manufacturing, as far as GM Nameplate is concerned).  ISO 13485 builds upon the ISO 9001 framework with higher expectations for risk management and design control activities when we develop sub-assemblies and product components together with our customers.  There is no margin for error in any regulated industry, and this ISO 13485 standard promotes the effectiveness of meeting a comprehensive set of requirements.  Achieving certification to the ISO 13485 standards helps ensure that the medical device components and parts we produce meet or exceed thoroughly planned quality specifications every time, without exception.   

All GM Nameplate facilities already meet ISO 9001, a quality management standard that applies to general quality and management oversight principals, regardless of the industry.   In general, ISO 13485 compliments ISO 9001 and can be seen as broadening our quality system to better align to cGMPs.  

In addition to ISO 9001 and 13485, two GMN divisions are also certified to AS 9100C, an aerospace quality system standard.  All are examples of GMN’s commitment to stringent quality management systems.  GM Nameplate’s pursuit of so many stringent quality systems is a testament to the company’s commitment to quality.  

To learn more on the difference between our quality systems, visit my blog Quality Systems 101.

What was the greatest challenge in achieving this milestone? 

The first step was to revise our procedures to better align procedure language with our intent.  In the end, we developed a stand-alone quality manual to meet ISO 13485.

Once that step was completed, our biggest challenge was transition and education to the additional requirements and supporting procedures.  Our staff needed to understand the new procedures – what they mean, what they don’t, how they apply to core business functions, and how to comply.  With quality, compliance is paramount.

What’s next on the horizon for GM Nameplate’s quality group?

A lot of hard work went into achieving this milestone and an equal amount of work will go into maintaining it.  It is important to keep staff trained and vigilant about protocols through education and development efforts.  Quality is always an ongoing process.

In addition, we will be looking to align our quality systems across our facilities.  Quality standard are applied on a facility by facility basis.  We will be taking what we have learned while rolling out ISO 13485 in Seattle to further improve our processes at other locations.

By admin | Dec 5, 2013
Lensclad badging for cosmetic industry

Recently, GM Nameplate’s urethane coating capabilities were utilized for the badging of MAC Cosmetics 2013 "Stroke of Midnight" holiday compacts. The “badges” feature GMN’s unique thin-lensclad capability, a popular automotive capability, which creates a visually appealing look and a durable surface.

Lombardi Design and Manufacturing produces injection molded packaging for the cosmetic industry. GMN worked with LDM to produce the cover for MAC Cosmetics 2013 holiday compact. The design team originally was interested in the thin-lensclad look after seeing a part that GMN produced for a customer in the appliance industry that featured a similar visual aesthetic.

After producing a prototype for the project, it was decided that utilizing thin-lensclad technology was the best design option for the desired visual impact. The final product features three colors and embossing. The thin-lensclad topcoat allowed the gold ribs to have depth of color and tactile value. Utilizing GMN’s thin-lensclad capability married visual beauty with functionality. The final part is beautiful and functionally capable, being scuff and scratch resistant.

Click here to learn more about our lensclad capabilities. The MAC Holiday Compact will be available in stores in late October.

Cynthia Schulte, GMN
By Cynthia Schulte | Oct 23, 2013
GMN Automotive

Today GM Nameplate announced the launch of a new brand: GMN Automotive.  The new brand is intended to underscore the company’s commitment to the automotive industry and communicate the diverse products that are available from GM Nameplate.       

GM Nameplate has served the automotive industry for 50 years as a supplier of decorative components.  Over the last decade, the company has expanded its offerings to include front panel integration, user interfaces, value-added assemblies and more.

“The branding of GM Nameplate’s automotive group highlights the significant position we currently hold within the automotive industry while offering customers a glimpse of the full range of processes and capabilities that we employ,” said Rich Smylie, who oversees the automotive group.

“We know automotive,” said Gerry Gallagher, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GM Nameplate.  “However, because of all the industries we serve, that message is often lost.  GMN Automotive is a vehicle for us to share the specific capabilities we offer the automotive industry.” 

GM Nameplate is often incorrectly associated with General Motors.  The GMN Automotive brand also allows the company to differentiate from the automotive giant. 

To learn more about GMN Automotive, visit the new GMN Automotive website at

By admin | Mar 12, 2013
Plastic nameplate

By Lou Kiernan

I regularly work with customers that need a unique aesthetic for their parts. I recently used this Honda part to demonstrate how GMN can create a pronounced 3-D effect on a nameplate. 

Scott Ose and Betty Raper on the GM Nameplate team helped bring this part to life. They started with clear acrylic and printed solid white on the second surface. The blue logo detail is printed on the front side with the same press. They laminate the part and then cut the thick acrylic sheets into individual nameplates. The part is then domed on the front surface. This creates the illusion that the blue “H” logo is floating inside the domed acrylic.

The nameplate is used on countertop displays in dealership showrooms and the result is an eye-catching brand identity piece.

Elise Harrington, GMN
By Elise Harrington | Nov 29, 2012
Printing automotive instrumentation

Industrial + Specialty Printing’s November/December issue features an article by GM Nameplate’s Technical Printing Manager, Mike McDaniel. “Printing Automotive Instrumentation” highlights the steps and challenges to correctly manufacturing an automotive instrument panel.

Drawing from many years of color matching and printing experience McDaniel examines printing automotive gauges step-by-step. The article covers the importance of utilizing various measurement tools and instrumentation. As pointed out by McDaniel, when developing an automotive instrument panel job, color matching is the longest and most challenging step. He then goes on to explain the different printing methods, and proper procedures, whether back or front-printing the panel.

GM Nameplate’s color expert Mike McDaniel has successfully lead many automotive instrument panel projects. Although it is rarely a short and simple process, McDaniel says that with rigid procedures, high attention to detail and accurate color matching, you can achieve a high quality and durable panel.