Doug Clark: MacKay Manufacturing a well-kept Spokane secret

Today’s tale proves you don’t always know as much as you think you know about the place where you grew up.

Being a lilac lifer, I assumed I had my home turf cataloged from the Crescent Clock to the House of Hose.

Just ask. I’ll tell you all about the Spokane area and in grand detail.

Then comes this email. Next thing you know, I’m like some wide-eyed kid on a field trip to Spokane Valley, where I learned about the truly amazing things being built inside a couple of buildings I’ve driven past without notice at least a dozen times.

MacKay Manufacturing can be found at 10011 E. Montgomery Drive, a short hop east of the landmark Longhorn Restaurant. It’s easy to overlook since the company has no retail trade or walk-in business.

Last Friday morning, I found an empty parking space and soon shook the hand of my emailer and tour guide, company President Mike MacKay, age 66.

The manufacturing facility that bears his name is an architecturally striking beige and gray-trimmed building that, from the street, hides the mammoth 53,000 square feet of working space where 135 skilled employees earn a paycheck.

Several minutes later found me eyeballing rows of complex and expensive-looking machines as well as some of the products made here.

Like gleaming canisters that are used to mount forward-looking infrared cameras on planes and helicopters.

Rifle stocks. Surgical devices used in arthroscopic and endoscopic procedures. Vacuum chambers for scanning electron microscopes …

The list is impressive and goes on and on.

Bruce Szember, the general manager, told me that “at any given time,” MacKay is busy filling 4,000 open work orders.

Being president of Men Who Cannot Build means I’m always in awe of anyone who can successfully operate a tape measure.

But the work being done at MacKay? This involves a level of craftsmanship that makes my head do the tilt-a-whirl.

Szember pointed to a woman peering into a nearby…

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