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Solar Plastics honored by Delano Chamber during Manufacturing Week
Oct. 31, 2011

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN - In observance of Minnesota’s Manufacturing Week, the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce conducted its October general meeting at one of Delano’s manufacturers.

Solar Plastics was established in 1964, and produces custom-engineered rotationally molded plastic parts. Solar Plastics is a privately owned company that employs more than 200 individuals at locations in Delano and Davenport, IA.

In Delano, Solar Plastics constructed its building in the industrial park in 1996, and has occupied it since 1997. The company is originally from Minneapolis.

“The reason we’re here is Landscape Structures,” said Rick Carlsen of Solar Plastics. “We were doing all the rotational molding for Landscape.”

Landscape Structures has since gone on to develop its own rotational molding operations.

“Delano is lucky enough to have two rotational molders within 100 yards of each other,” Carlsen said with a laugh. He added there are about 300 rotational molders in the United States.

Carlsen said Solar Plastics is a family business, and discussed ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards, the company’s design staff and efforts, its products, and technology.

The company works with gasoline fuel tanks, and also does a lot with military vehicles. Carlsen said Solar Plastics also does a lot of design work and manufacturing for Polaris.

The company specializes in developing innovative technology aimed at solving complex rotational molding problems.

Pete Carlsen, who is the general manager of sister company FluidAll, also presented information about this growing company.

FluidAll is a distribution business owned by the Carlsen family, specializing in fluid handling and fluid management solutions. The business was formerly Tote-A-Lube.

Following the meeting, chamber members were invited to tour the Solar Plastics plant, and a presentation was made by the chamber’s economic development committee to Solar Plastics.

An economic development update was also provided to chamber members, and board elections took place, with Ryan Gueningsman, Kristin Nelson, and Will Haack being reelected to the chamber’s board of directors. Calvin Brandt was also elected to the board of directors. The remainder of the board is comprised of Adam Kleve, John Tackaberry, Rayme Bernick, Dr. Kelly Thompson, and Jeanne Matter.

About manufacturing in Minnesota

The manufacturing sector is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy, thanks to its strength, versatility, and innovation. It represents one-in-seven jobs and has the largest total payroll of any business sector.

Minnesota has 300,200 manufacturing jobs statewide, or 14 percent of all private-sector jobs.

Manufacturing contributes more than $30 billion to the state economy, and represents 17 percent of the Minnesota’s gross domestic product.

Manufacturing pays an average annual wage of $53,612 per employee, eclipsing construction, real estate, and agriculture.

Across the state, manufacturing accounts for between 6 percent and 18 percent of total employment, depending upon the region.

Most manufacturing jobs in Minnesota are concentrated in these products:

• computer and electronic products;

• food manufacturing;

• fabricated metal products;

• machinery.

Each manufacturing job supports another 1.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy through supplier purchases and employee spending. In all, manufacturing accounts for nearly 800,000 jobs, or about 29 percent of all jobs in Minnesota.

Manufacturing has the second-largest payroll of any business sector in the state, providing $16.1 billion in 2009 wages.

Manufacturing exports brought more than $17.2 billion into the Minnesota economy in 2010.

Canada is Minnesota’s top manufactured export market at $4.6 billion in sales in 2010, followed by China and Japan.

Minnesota’s top manufactured export is computers and electronics, at just more than $4 billion, followed by machinery, transportation equipment, and miscellaneous (mostly medical devices).

Minnesota is a national leader in manufactured medical devices, which contribute significantly to the state’s gross domestic product. The export category that includes medical devices accounted for $1.6 billion in manufactured exports in 2010.

Medical device businesses research, develop, and produce everything from catheters and pacemakers to dental instruments, eyeglass lenses, and hearing aids.

Renewable energy is another stronghold of the manufacturing sector. The state believes that it has the potential for providing great support to Minnesota’s economy in the future.

Central Minnesota manufacturing statistics

The manufacturing sector in central Minnesota has endured a significant cutback over the last two years, and is now the second largest employing industry in central Minnesota.

With 36,534 covered jobs at 1,206 business establishments, manufacturing represented 14.8 percent of all regional jobs in 2009, sliding it just behind health care and social assistance (44,942 jobs) in total employment.

Just over 12.2 percent of the state’s manufacturing jobs were located in the 14-county region, as compared to 9.6 percent of total employment across all industries.

Regional manufacturers paid out just under $1.6 billion in total payroll to employees in 2009, providing average annual wages of $43,004. That was $9,000 higher than the average for all industries ($34,060).

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