By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel and Cokato have numerous manufacturing operations that provide the life blood small communities need to be successful.
Not only do area manufacturers provide good-paying jobs for local residents, but they benefit other local businesses, such as retailers and construction companies by providing them business.
For instance, Spectralytics in Dassel recently expanded into a warehouse, which had to be remodeled.
Local electricians and contractors were hired to do the work, according to Spectralytics owner Gary Oberg.
“Those are the trickle-down effects of us being here,” Oberg said.
Many owners of manufacturing companies acknowledge the quality of the employees from the Dassel and Cokato areas.
“We have such a strong history here in Dassel of good employees and the strong support of the community,” said Ronda Anderson, marketing manager at American Time and Signal in Dassel.
Many residents aren’t even aware of all the manufacturers in these two small communities, unless they are employed at one of them.
But those manufacturers put these small towns on the world map, exporting goods both nationally and internationally.
For instance, American Time and Signal is a manufacturer with worldwide reach, and its clocks are often seen in movies and television shows.
When people come to Dassel to visit the company, they are astounded at the size of the building out of which the international business operates, Anderson noted.
Although the economy took a bit of a hit recently, local manufacturers have come through surprisingly well.
In fact, Spectralytics was “happy to get good, trained workers” from the Hutchinson Technology, Inc. lay-off, Oberg said.
Advanced Process Technologies (APT) in Cokato started with one person in 2000, and within four months, had 12 employees, according to production manager Levi Peterson.
Throughout the years, the company has continued to grow, and today, there are 85 employees and 35 subcontractors.
Finally, local manufacturers are grateful for the loyalty shown by employees in Dassel and Cokato. Once hired, they tend to stick around if they are treated fairly.
About 75 percent of the people that started with APT in the beginning are still with the company today, Peterson noted.
Many American Time and Signal employees have been with the company for more than 20 years, noted Anderson.
According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED):
• One in seven Minnesota jobs is in manufacturing.
• The average worker in the manufacturing sector makes $56,328 per year.
• Across the state, manufacturing accounts for between 8 and 34 percent of total employment, depending on the region.
• Each manufacturing job supports another 1.9 jobs elsewhere in the economy through supplier purchases and employee spending.
• Manufacturing exports brought $18.4 billion into the Minnesota economy in 2011.
• Minnesota’s top manufactured export is computers and electronics, at almost $4 billion, followed by machinery, transportation equipment, and miscellaneous (mostly medical devices).
• Advanced Process Technologies (APT) serves the dairy and food industry throughout North America with plant concept and design, process, electrical and mechanical engineering, equipment manufacturing, and complete installation. For more information, go to www.apt-inc.com or call (877) 230-5060.
• Cowgirl Tuff Co. is a designer and manufacturer of modern, upscale, western apparel for young women. For more information or a retail location, go to www.cowgirltuffco.com.
• Faribault Foods is a food processing plant with a product line that includes canned vegetables, sauced beans, refried beans, baked beans, kids- and family-style pasta, soup, chili, and organic and Mexican specialties. For more information, call (320) 286-2166 or go to www.faribaultfoods.com.
• VitalDyne, Inc. is a full-service contract assembly medical device manufacturer that recently relocated to Cokato. For more information, call (320) 559-0120 or go to www.vitaldyne.com.
• TyloHelo, formerly known as Finnleo Sauna and Saunatec, is the largest sauna and steambath company in the world, with a history dating to 1919, when the company was established in Wyborg, Finland. For more information, go to www.saunatec.com or call (320) 286-6382.
• Airtex Consumer Products offers quality filling and foam products for the crafting and quilting industries. For more information, call (320) 286-2696 or go to www.airtex.com.
• Olsen Chain and Cable is a manufacturer of lifting devices used for cranes, and has grown significantly since the Edina-based manufacturing company first branched out to Cokato in 1972. For more information, go to www.olsenchain.com or call (800) 328-1906.
• Forward Technology manufactures systems for hot plate welding, vibration welding, infrared welding, spin welding and ultrasonic welding, as well as burst testing and custom leak testing. For more information, go to www.forwardtech.com or call (320) 286-2578.
• Design and Fabricating is located at 425 1st St SW in Cokato. To learn more, call (320) 286-5001.
• Porta-Dock, Inc. has built quality waterfront equipment since 1966, offering a complete line of maintenance-free boat, pontoon, and personal watercraft lifts, as well as dock frameworks. For more information, call (320) 275-3312 or go to www.porta-dock.com.
• Crest Healthcare Supply has delivered customer support and reliable products to hospitals and long-term care facilities since 1967. To learn more, go to www.cresthealthcare.com or call 800-328-8908.
• American Time & Signal Co. is a manufacturer offering a complete line of synchronized replacement clocks and parts for all major brands. For more information, call 800-328-8996 or go to www.atsclock.com.
• Spectralytics is a contract manufacturing company supporting the medical device community, providing laser solutions to customers worldwide. For more information, call 800-275-2118 or go to www.spectralytics.com.
• Firelake Manufacturing offers waste oil heaters designed to burn waste oil and other petroleum-based products. For more information, go to www.firelakemfg.com or call 866-252-3757 or (320) 275-3391.