Left to right: Ben Erickson (Owner and President) and Mike Sorteberg (General Manager) stand on either side of a photo of Rick Erickson (former owner). Not pictured: Sally Erickson (Owner, Benefits/Payroll), and Trudy Veselka (Owner and Operations Engineer).
Advance Thief River is nominating Ericco Manufacturing for a 2019 Minnesota Manufacturing Excellence Award. Twin Cities Business published a “2019 Call for Entry” this spring, asking for nominations for this prestigious award that recognizes manufacturing excellence in Minnesota.
About Minnesota Manufacturing Excellence Awards
The Manufacturing Excellence awards seek to recognize excellence in manufacturing related to product design and engineering, manufacturing processes, business operations, human capital, logistics and supply-chain management, local manufacturing, and/or product or niche uniqueness. Nominations are open to original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers, and makers, both large and small from across Minnesota.
The goal is to spotlight truly exceptional performance in at least one of the following areas:
- Product Design and Innovation
- Operational Excellence
- Workforce Development
- Supply Chain Development
- Sustainable Manufacturing
- Collaboration in Manufacturing
- Local Impact
About Ericco Manufacturing
Ericco Manufacturing is a three-generation family-owned business, located in rural Viking, Minnesota. The company was founded in 1976 by George Erickson, together with his son Rick. The original facility was built on the home place, surrounded by crop land. George was active in the business until the 1990’s. To this day, George maintains a vital interest in Ericco’s operations and is a frequent visitor on the plant floor. George’s son, Rick, was owner from 1984 to 2017, right up until he passed away. Rick’s wife, Sally, co-owner, manages payroll and employee benefits. Rick and Sally’s children, Ben Erickson and Trudy Veselka, are the third generation of Ericksons in the company, with Ben serving as President and Trudy as Operations Engineer.
The business was originally a tool and die shop with an emphasis on special machines. Since the company’s founding, it has evolved into a sizable manufacturing facility that produces more than a million parts per year. The company specializes in CNC machining, stamping, and forming to customer specified designs.
This three-generation family-owned manufacturing business is proof that a business can thrive anywhere with the right management and vision, regardless of how remote the location. The company is on a fast growth trajectory, with production and jobs nearly tripling over the last ten years.
The company’s success is due in part to their use of leading edge production equipment and state of the art quality testing equipment. They manufacture parts for the power sports industry (Textron Specialized Vehicles/Arctic Cat) and the aviation industry, as well as a number of other industries.
One of the features that sets the company apart is the value they place on people and relationships. This value is embedded in their relationships with employees, as well as with their customers and suppliers.
Ericco management believes that their workforce is their most precious resource and have worked hard to show employees how much they are valued. Sometimes that means a pay raise and other times it means simply telling an employee how well they are doing. The average length of time an employee has been with the company is nine years.
Employees have the opportunity to learn through on-site training and regular team meetings. A new HVAC system was installed last summer which increased comfort and air quality for workers.
Customer and supplier relationships are also valued highly. Owner Ben Erickson says, “the relationships are the rewarding part,” and says he “enjoys maintaining personal relationships with the suppliers.” Last year’s Christmas party was attended by customers and suppliers from as far away as Taiwan and China, proving that relationships are valued by both sides.
Ericco’s commitment to environmental sustainability and good stewardship is another hallmark of manufacturing excellence. The company has employed many green practices, including recycling cardboard, scrap aluminum, steel, and used coolant. The company recycles 10-12 truckloads of aluminum each year.
Advance Thief River has nominated Ericco Manufacturing for the 2019 Minnesota Manufacturing Excellence Awards based on the company’s growth, its ability to thrive in a rural area, the sustainability of the business through three generations and beyond, the jobs it has created and retained, and for its commitment to environmental stewardship.
Manufacturing Excellence honorees and finalists will be celebrated at an awards dinner and program in September.