Made in the Northwest: Altek, Inc.

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. – Even though Altek has been in business for more than 40 years, a lot of people have no idea what happens inside its 150,000 sq. ft. facility in Liberty Lake.

“They’re amazed to find out we build aircraft lavatories, heart defibrillators, ultrasound machines and things that are being launched into space,” said Altek Vice President Rick Taylor.

Up until 2020, 55% of Altek’s business was making products for the aerospace industry. And most of that was for the Boeing 737 Max.

But then, Taylor explained, “The 737 Max had some issues. The entire fleet was grounded around the world. It had a huge impact on us.”

Thankfully, Altek found temporary opportunities with Amazon. First, in making lighting systems for shelves in their fulfillment centers. Then later, in making COVID barriers.

“(It) had a tremendous impact on our monthly sales,” recalled Taylor. “Preserved a lot of jobs.”

But Altek and its more than 170 employees learned a lesson. It needed to rebrand itself and not be so reliant on aerospace work.

“That’s where we made the commitment to focus on five major industries: space, aerospace, medical, high end instrumentation and defense,” said Taylor.

Now, aerospace accounts for about 25-30% of its business. Taylor says that includes power supply boxes.

“They’re controlling a lot of what’s happening inside of a wing. All of the actuators, fuel flow sensing.”

It also includes things like lavatory toilet seats and overhead storage bins.

“We get to see the products that we make on airplanes and that puts a smile on our face,” said Taylor.

Altek has long made ultrasound carts for Philips Medical.

“They awarded us with their second working prototype. That’s a full working piece of equipment.”

More recently, it’s started making unmanned robotic submarines for underwater ship inspection.

“They can make them smaller, very sophisticated and control them with a joystick,” said Taylor.

Its products are even being launched into space, as Taylor says Altek now does a lot of work for a prominent space company.

“A lot of the new equipment you see being installed out there is for the space industry, so we’re really excited about that.”

And as Altek looks to keep hiring and growing, space is one of two industries it plans to grow right along with.

“I see a lot of excitement in the space industry and defense. I think those are two industries that are just taking off.”

So plan on out of this world products to keep coming out of Liberty Lake for a long time to come.