LINCOLN – CLAAS Omaha Inc. and MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc. of Hebron have been named Nebraska Manufacturers of the Year. MetalQuest received the award for small-sized manufacturers, while CLAAS received the award for large manufacturers.
The award recognizes Nebraska manufacturers that implement innovative ways to conduct business through the use of products, processes, technologies and strategies. The companies were honored Monday at the NE Chamber’s Digital Manufacturing Summit Series, with top sponsor RSM US LLP, a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services to the manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries. Other event sponsors include Nebraska Public Power District, Ash Grove, and Behlen.
“Nebraska’s manufacturers are on the cutting edge of innovation that meets both typical demand and that of a pandemic-stricken nation,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “MetalQuest and CLAAS are cases in point. Their innovative cultures offer resilience and stability in uncertain times. We are grateful they’ve chosen Nebraska to build and grow.”
Small Manufacturer of the Year
Headquartered in Hebron, MetalQuest produces tight-tolerance, precision, machined component parts for customers. Now with 56 employees and customers in 27 states who often ship internationally, the company was founded in 1996 in Deshler. It moved to its current location in Hebron in 1999 and has expanded twice since then.
“Innovation happens daily,” said Scott Harms, president. “One of our core values is the ‘third idea’. If you have an idea and I have an idea, we put those together and get the third idea, which is hopefully better than each individual idea.”
According to Harms and Scott Volk, vice president and COO, MetalQuest’s strength is in its employees who continue to adopt and implement the latest automation and technology. This keeps MetalQuest competitive in the marketplace. Two recent examples are a fully automated machining cell that makes oil field retainer segments and a multi-spindle CNC lathe that allows parts to be machined in seconds rather than minutes. Automation and technology help MetalQuest stand out among competitors and international suppliers.
Large Manufacturer of the Year
Introducing the latest series of LEXION combines into the Omaha production line is one of the company’s more significant achievements, according to Matthias Ristow, president and managing director of business administration for CLASS Omaha Inc. The process can often be very disruptive to a production process that relies on accuracy through consistency, but it went relatively smoothly in Omaha.
Now with 138 employees and customers throughout the U.S. and Canada, CLAAS Omaha Inc. came to Nebraska in 2001 and has been expanding ever since.
“CLAAS is a large, global leader in agricultural equipment, but it’s still small enough that we value the input of each of our employees,” said Ristow. Quoting the former Chair of the Supervisory Board, Helmut Claas, he added, “There’s no secret to our success. We just have good ideas and motivated people.”
CLASS Omaha recently developed a dual-education apprenticeship program that includes both theoretical learning offered in typical schooling and formal training in the company and on projects. The program starts later this year.
Nebraska is home to more than 1,500 manufacturers employing 100,000 workers. One in 10 jobs is in manufacturing. The industry contributed more than $14 billion annually to Nebraska’s Gross State Product. Average annual wages in manufacturing exceeded $66,300 in 2018, the most recent year data is available.
The Nebraska Chamber is the largest, statewide business association and has proudly served as the voice of Nebraska’s business community since 1912.
Award videos available at https://www.nechamber.com/manufacturers-of-the-year.html