Manufacturers in the spotlight

by Jim Boyle


Successful local businesses will add to the pomp and circumstance of Minnesota Manufacturer’s Week in Elk River.

Designed to showcase Minnesota’s diverse manufacturing industry, organizers of the weeklong event do it to increase legislative awareness of the importance in providing  high-wage, high-skill jobs for our communities and to drum up interest in the various lines of work.

That’s true in Elk River where the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Elk River are celebrating with a ribbon cutting, a ground breaking, an anniversary celebration and tours of local shops.

Manufacturers Week is Oct. 20-26, 2013
Manufacturers Week is Oct. 20-26, 2013

There will be a robbon cutting Monday at Alliance Machine in Elk River. On Tuesday, there will be a ground breaking for Preferred Powder Coating, a Rogers business that is moving to Elk River to expand its operations.Then on Thursday, Metal Craft Machine & Engineering will host a public open house to celebrate its 35th anniversary, and Elk River High School students will tour local manufacturers.

Here’s a litle more on each:

•Alliance Machine  is a precision machine shop that specializes in medium to complex CNC machining and is a family and veteran-owned and operated business, which originated in short run production and special machine and design building.   The business has grown by increasing production, adding tooling and specializing in defense, aerospace and medical. They machine metals, all types of plastic and offer a full line of CNC milling and CNC lathe machines.

The original building was a 24,000 sq. ft. facility with 30 full time employees.  In July of 2013, they broke ground on an 18,000 sq. ft. expansion possible in part through a $200,000 forgivable loan from the City.

Currently employing 35 full time employees, Alliance provides Veteran’s preference when hiring, and plans on hiring six new employees within the next two years due to their expansion.

•Preferred Power Coating is a metal powder coating company that works with all types of ferrous and non-ferrous products including steel, aluminum, stainless, cast iron and zinc die castings to support a variety of industries such as aeronautics, athletic equipment, automotive, die casting, medical equipment, OEM, recreational, retail and sheet metal.

The process is done in an environmentally sensitive manner through a process known as EEP, or “Enhanced Performance Pretreatment” which was developed to meet the new phosphate restrictions, reduces water usage, lower chemical consumption and eliminates the natural gas needed to heat the stage.

They will be constructing a 100,000 square foot facility in the newly finished Nature’s Edge Business Center.  They employ 24 now and in their new location will be able to add 8 to 10 new jobs

•Metal Craft Machine & Engineering is celebrating 35 years in business, started in 1978 in the basement of a small strip mall in Elk River.

At the beginning, the main focus was on computers, electronics, and the food and drug industries. After a decade of steady growth, the company discovered expected growth in the medical-device industry with a focus on close-tolerance parts for surgical instruments and implants which is a majority of Metal Craft’s business today.

Through mergers and acquisitions, Metal Craft has expanded its capacity and hired more employees. Today the company services the medical, aviation, space & defense, and electronic industries. They specialize in precision machining, complex assemblies, prototyping, and production.

Currently, the two companies (Metal Craft & Riverside (Wisconsin)) have more 180 employees.  Metal Craft moved into a new 83,000 square foot facility in 2009 and Riverside is working on a plan to expand their 40,000 foot facility over the next couple of years.

The public is invited to celebrate with them at an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24.

Manufacturing in the United States produces $1.8 trillion of value each year, or 12.2 percent of U.S. GDP.

For every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

There were 53 manufacturing business establishments in Elk River providing 1,277 covered jobs as of 2012. Those jobs pay on average $14,000 more than all other industries.  Manufacturing accounts for 11.2 percent of total jobs in Elk River. Average annual wages in manufacturing were $52,104 in Elk River in 2012.

In Sherburne County, there were 144 manufacturing business establishments reporting 2,937 covered jobs and $151 million in annual payroll, comprising 12.6 percent of total employment and 16.5 percent of total payroll. Average annual wages in the manufacturing industry were $51,376 in Sherburne County in 2012. In comparison, average annual wages were $39,156 in the total of all industries, meaning wages were about $12,000 higher in manufacturing than the total of all industries.