by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Since July, construction crews have been busy preparing Waconia Manufacturing in anticipation of employees and the busy spring sales season.
Now just a few weeks away from officially opening with employees, Waconia Manufacturing President Troy Williams recently visited the 67,000-square-foot facility.
“We’re looking to be getting in here probably in the next couple of weeks here,” he said. “We’ll start getting people in, probably work out some of the kinks first of all and then move those people in.”
Located on a 9.36-acre lot in the 60-acre Tacoma West Industrial Park in NYA, the nondescript building appears simple, large and gray to anyone on the outside or viewing it from the highway.
Once inside, though, the use and the amenities of the building become apparent. It equals the size of Waconia Manufacturing’s space in Waconia thereby doubling the company’s space.
While there is a main customer entrance, a separate employee entrance with keyless entry leads into office space for sales and engineering offices which boast state-of-the-art computers and large scale printers with room for 16 employees and future space as well.
As part of the original agreement, the facility will create at least 15 jobs for skilled workers, but Williams said that number is low.
“We’re going to start initially with 20 to 25 people initially,” said Williams, adding 12 to 15 have been hired in Waconia so far, but it’s an ongoing process. “We’ve already hired some people in Waconia for training and different things like that. There are a lot of new employees that will be coming, but we do have some other ones coming over from Waconia.”
A 365,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing space with large windows though is the main focus where Waconia Manufacturing will use to create large scale agricultural products, including fertilizer and blending equipment, large tanks, conveyors and structural steel.
“A lot of the pieces you see will be 10-foot wide, 30-foot long large pieces,” he said, adding most of the equipment is directly shipped to customers, most of who are in the Midwest. In all, Waconia Manufacturing has customers in all 50 states and Canada.
Aiding in the manufacturing process is state-of-the-art equipment.
“It’s all new computer controlled equipment,” Williams said, adding they also added a new piece in Waconia as well.
In addition to mobile welding stations, new machines include a high definition plasma cutting system allows workers to cut large pieces of stainless steel and a Marvel cut tech saw with a roller track system and tilting allows for the creation of small pieces.
Product flow was factored in to as items go from raw material storage, the cutting machines, a sandblasting area to rough the steel up and a painting area with electrostatic guns.
Aiding that process is an interconnected system of eight overhead cranes, including 2, 5, 7.5 and 10-ton units.
“Those units can traverse the whole length of the plant back and forth,” said Williams. “They can traverse 300 feet along on the building side.”
Williams was especially excited about the painting process.
“They have a clamp that goes on the material and it sort of charges the piece so your spray wraps around different things so you won’t have as much overspray,” he said. “It will take your overspray in the air and move it through a filter mechanism.”
Adjacent to that area is a paint kitchen with several mixing systems with 55-gallon drums and internal recirculation that will run 24/7.
The warehouse area is self-contained with a generator and an air filtration system that will turn the air in the building six times per hour.
“When it comes back in it will be more pure air than we’re breathing right now,” he said.
Williams emphasized the use of local companies through their construction manager, Negen Architects, including subcontractors such as Waconia-based Town and Country, Gaylord-based McGuire Electric and Waconia-based Yetzer Home Furnishing.
The opening of the facility will allow Waconia Manufacturing to capitalize on the busy spring season.
“Our season gets really three months before the spring season and three months before the fall,” he said. “It will set up pretty well.”
It also provides for future needs as well for the business which started in 1959, Williams said.
“It’s exciting for Waconia Manufacturing,” he said. “It’s a very, very big step for us. It’s one of those things where it’s the next step for our business. It’s a big investment and we want to make it right and make it nice for people.”
Business is going well, he added.
“Being involved in agriculture is a good thing,” he said. “There’s probably a bit of doom and gloom out there with people talking about the commodity prices going down. But with agriculture, we have 700 billion people every morning to feed in the world. We can turn off our cellphones and not have cable TV and all of that, but every day we get up we’re hungry.”
A public open house for customers and the industry is tentatively planned for June, but Williams is eager to showcase the space.
“You come in here and this doesn’t look like a welding facility and that’s what we’re going to stress to try and keep the work environment nice for the people,” he said.
Waconia Manufacturing is located at 680 Tacoma Blvd. in NYA as well as 33 E. Eighth St., in Waconia.
For more information on Waconia Manufacturing, visit www.waconiamfg.com and for more information on the Industrial Park, visit expand2nya.com.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]