Weather Forecast


Strong farm economy keeps Renville, Minn., manufacturer on the grow

Maike Roos operates a high definition plasma cutter at K & M Manufacturing in Renville. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

RENVILLE -- Foreign competition.

This American manufacturer says bring it on.

"That's where we get competitive,'' said Matt Clemens, manager of operations for K & M Manufacturing in Renville.

K & M Manufacturing looks for the opportunity to compare its products side by side with any foreign-made version. Foreign competitors may enjoy some price advantages, but K & M will win the competition hands down when it comes to quality, delivery and service, the company says.

The company's customer base is the American farmer. They know quality when they see it, and appreciate its value, said Clemens.

K & M Manufacturing produces a variety of products for agricultural use, including toolboxes and weight boxes, steps and handrails for tractors and mowers. It also produces a variety of after-market products, such as kits for refurbishing tractor cabs, replacement seats, mirrors and lights.

K & M products are custom-designed for all of the leading agricultural manufacturers, from Allis Chalmers and Case IH to John Deere, New Holland and Versatile.

The acquisition three years ago by Rogers-based Great Northern Equipment, owned by the Don Kotula family, helped open up new markets and expand sales as well, said Clemens. The company has expanded to serve turf and construction markets.

The new ownership also opened retail opportunities for K & M products in Northern Tool & Equipment outlets, also owned by the Kotula family.

K & M Manufacturing is growing.

Founded in 1958, its manufacturing center is a 67,000-square-foot complex in the heart of Renville. It has moved its marketing operations to a 10,000-square-foot facility along U.S. Highway 212 on the eastern edge of Renville.

More recently, it has also expanded into the nearly 20,000-square-foot, former Sunrise Packaging facility on the west edge of Olivia. It will serve as the distribution center.

The company has nearly 50 employees.

Serving agriculture is the company focus, but it is also diversifying into a variety of markets. It's aware that there are inevitable upswings and downswings in agriculture, said Clemens.

He attributes its growth to a variety of factors, in particular the strong economy for agriculture in recent years.

Equally important, the company's former owners who are responsible for its development -- the Mulder family members -- have remained with the company and have continued its focus on quality and serving its well-established customer base.

Clemens said the company also benefits by having a rural workforce. The company's owner appreciates the work ethic of its employees and is committed to maintaining the company's operations in Renville, he said.

Dan Burdett

Dan Burdett is the community content coordinator at the West Central Tribune. He has 13 years experience in print media, to include four years enlisted service in the United States Air Force. He has been an employee of Forum Communications since 2005, joining the company after spending two years as the managing editor of the Redwood Gazette and Livewire in Redwood Falls. Prior to his current position, Dan was the presentation editor at the Tribune.

(320) 214-4338