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parts of the country well into April—did provide plenty of major storms to put MB’s equipment through its paces. Karlin said, “We’ve had remarkably few issues with the performance of our trucks. It’s a testament to our engineering group and our guys on the floor. The factory is busy building trucks.”
It is hard to say what is more impressive at M-BCompanies—the wide range in sizes of equipment it produces, or the mammoth size of its biggest units.
Even homeowners can own a piece of M-B equipment these days as retailers such as Tri-City Small Engine in New Holstein sell walk-behind power sweepers made right in that community by M-B. The sweepers can handle several inches of snow but have other uses as well, including thatching lawns and brushing gravel back onto road shoulders after snowplows pushed it into lawns and into ditches.
On the other side of the spectrum are M-B’s airport runway snow removal systems, some of which measure over 70 feet long and include both plowing and brooming operations all in one unit. M-B produces these units from tip to tail, using standard components like engines and transmissions, while designing and assembling gear boxes specifically for snow removal applications. Depending on configuration, the new M-B trucks range from a 475 hp plow truck to an 1,175 hp snow blower.
Same customer base
M-B Companies, Inc. is serving basically the same customer base now as it was prior to producing its own trucks, but it makes it convenient for the customer to deal with just one company for all its new equipment and ongoing service needs. “We’re giving the customer new and additional products to complete their tasks,” Karlin said.
He added, “We have a great name in the industry, and now we’re taking it to the next level. The real issue is support, and the design has to be good. We handle all of our service with our expert service staff from the factory. The customer has reacted very favorably to that.”
About two years ago, M-B began pursuing ISO 9001 quality certification as assurance to its customers and to raise the company to a higher standard.
It is obvious that M-B’s decision to build trucks required two things—more employees and more space. As for the latter need, the company has done some significant shifting of functions and expansion in the last couple years. All of its pavement marking equipment is now produced at its facilities in Pennsylvania and Oregon. The New Holstein plant remains busy producing the wide range of attachments and its Multi Service Vehicle, but the company needed somewhere to grow its ongoing production of replacement brushes.
It found that space in a former grocery store.
In January, the company moved into the former Econofoods store in Chilton. The building has sat vacant for a few years now, but M-B Companies has filled most of it with equipment and employees producing replacement brushes.
“A significant amount of work was needed to transform the building from a retail store to a manufacturing facility,” Human Resource Manager Tim Stadler said. A few signs that the building was once a grocery store remain even as two shifts of employees daily assemble brushes made of polypropylene, wire or a combination.
Grant Kolbe is the business unit director of the Brush Division. He said the transition into the 33,000 square foot facility has gone smoothly, which will allow for the addition of new equipment, more storage and additional employees. He also said sales have been good, with M-B’sbrushes—mostly a bright yellow in color but other colors as well—finding their way to airports and other venues all over the world.
Stadler and Kolbe also said it does not hurt to have the exposure of the big M-B sign on the building which faces busy STH 32/57. That is because M-B Companies faces another competition beyond what it does for the products it produces. As its product line has become more sophisticated, it continues to search for additional employees who have the skills needed to match that level of sophistication.
Although recruiting for qualified workers has been very competitive, Stadler said wages and benefits at M-B Companies, Inc. rival those found in larger cities in this region, and he encourages qualified area workers to check out what M-B Companies, Inc. has available.