The manufacturing sector of Crow Wing County’s economy is alive and well — and thriving — with many companies adding positions, expanding their facilities, introducing new products and generating increased revenue.
Manufacturing is a significant segment of the local economy, according to the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC). Crow Wing County is home to 2,132 companies, 120 of which are manufacturers. An increasing number of jobs in manufacturing are highly technical and specialized positions that require formal training but typically lead to higher wages. The average weekly wage for all jobs in Crow Wing County in 2012 was $646, compared to $814 for manufacturing jobs.
Crow Wing County has a nice mix of manufacturers, with a diverse range of products and customers. Examples of some of the manufacturers that are growing and enjoying success are listed below.
■ Cross-Tech Mfg. Inc.
Cross-Tech Mfg. Inc., recently completed a 15,000-square-foot expansion to its Crosslake manufacturing facility, which more than doubled in size. The staff size grew as well, with several new positions added for new product development. Currently, Cross-Tech is the world’s largest manufacturer of hydraulic rotary cutters, which are attached to skid loaders and excavators to clear heavy brush. The Brush Wolf rotary cutters can clear a swath from 42 inches to 12 feet wide and are shipped to customers are worldwide.
■ Barrett Petfood Innovations
Barrett Petfood Innovations, once a large agricultural retail business south of Brainerd called Barrett Ag Service that sold feed and fertilizer, went through major changes that resulted in the discovery of a niche business that has led to significant growth the last four years. Barrett produces super-premium pet foods for a wide variety of animals: dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, monkeys, you name it. The products are sold worldwide. In 2012, Barrett produced 2 million pounds and is expected to produce 5 million this year and 10 million in 2014. Barrett employs 20 people and has plans to add another 10 before the end of 2013.
■ Pequot Tool & Manufacturing
Pequot Tool & Manufacturing has been growing so fast the last three years that the Jenkins-based company has had to get creative with its workspace and workforce to meet production needs. Pequot Tool is a machining and fabrication company that produces metal and plastic components for customers in industries such as medical, aerospace, firearms, telecommunications and defense. The company added 15 employees this year for a total of 143 and may hire more by year’s end, while filling weekend and evening shifts. It’s also squeezing every square foot of space from within its facility for additional workspace.
■ Lakeland Mold
Lakeland Mold is in growth mode with with domestic and international customers. Located in a 50,000-square-foot facility in Brainerd, Lakeland is the largest rotational mold builder and manufacturer in North America, producing cast and computer numerically controlled (CNC) aluminum tooling. Cast aluminum tools are large molds used to produce plastic products like kayaks, school desks, gas tanks and coolers. Among its largest customers are John Deere, Old Town Canoe Company, Toro and Igloo. Founded in 1988, Lakeland employs more than 80 people that run three shifts to create about 700 molds per year.
If you manage an airport and need equipment, there’s a good chance you’ve bought from Hali-Brite. Located in Crosby, Hali-Brite manufactures and sells airport beacons (the big rotating lights), runway lights, windsocks and wind cones, and more. It dominates the U.S. market, with products shipped all over the world. With a staff of 11 workers, Hali-Brite also has replacement parts and refurbishes beacons.
■ Magnum Machining
Magnum Machining has its 50,000 square-foot headquarters in Deerwood but has expanded the last 10 years to include a 115,000 square-foot facility in Mexico and a 30,000 square-foot warehouse in Ironton. With more than 100 employees at its two Minnesota locations, Magnum specializes in computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining of steel, aluminum and bronze castings. It also designs, manufactures and assembles precision components for a variety of industries, including defense, agriculture, construction and industrial.
Contributed by BLAEDC staff. Established in 1985, BLAEDC is a community-driven, nonprofit organization created to preserve and enhance the area’s economic base by expanding business, building community and growing jobs in Crow Wing County.