By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN As a former sister company to Olsen Chain & Cable, M & W (Machine and Welding), located in Cokato’s North Industrial Park, continues to expand and grow, increasing both its efficiency and employee base each year, according to its vice president, Dave Camp.
“We’ve experienced tremendous growth because when our distributors are given the choice of selling our product over the competition, they choose us,” Camp said.
The story of M & W begins first with Olsen Chain & Cable, a distributor of heavy construction equipment and also a light manufacturer of some of its products.
M & W, owned by Camp and wife Cathy, worked alongside the distributor in the south Industrial Park, providing Olsen Chain & Cable with welding and CNC machining for about 80 percent of its products.
Fifteen years ago, the Camps looked at the industry they served and found there were few companies doing what M & W now does. In addition, the company hadn’t been satisfied with the service and products it was getting elsewhere.
The Camps decided to build up M & W to compete with the other vendors and take it to a national level.
“M & W expanded what we were already doing,” Camp said, adding that the growth was a slow process so as to not “tip off” its competitors of the expansion.
Six years ago, Olsen Chain & Cable and M & W moved together to a larger building in North Industrial Park.
Five years ago, the Camps made a decision to consolidate Olsen Chain & Cable and move its sales operations to its Twin Cities location for two reasons, Camp explained.
First, it was difficult to maintain a sales presence so close to the Twin Cities.
“We had to duplicate a lot of labor,” he noted, adding that it was more cost-effective to consolidate sales to one location.
The other part was that M & W was publishing its own catalog in an effort to expand sales to regional and national distributors.
“We went from a sister company to a vendor of custom overhead lifting devices,” Camp explained.
M & W specializes in welding, CNC machining, grinding, heat treating, custom engineered lifting devices, and abrasive waterjet cutting; and is OSHA-compliant.
Within the past five years, M & W has gone from four employees to 24, and has 120 distributors worldwide, including in the US, Canada, and Mexico, Camp said.
“We serve a niche market that wasn’t being served very well,” Camp said. “We’re doing well because we’re concentrating on the things we do well.”
What’s also unique with M & W, Camp said, is that the company tries to add a half-million dollars of machinery each year, which ultimately creates more jobs. By investing in machinery, the company is able to be more efficient and it is able to hire more people because the demand for products is there, he explained.
“If we increase our production capacity, our existing distributors will use us versus going to one of our competitors,” he said.
An example of increased productivity, the most recent machine purchased was an automatic wire-bending machine used to make bent wire hooks; a job that was otherwise done by hand.
Within four hours, the machine produced the same amount that would’ve been done in two month’s time, Camp said.