Report from America: Columbus, Nebraska

By June 16, 2005Report from America

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This week found the blogger-in-chief on the road, in the great manufacturing town of Columbus, Nebraska, visiting a great company, Behlen Manufacturing, headed by NAM Board member Tony Raimondo. Behlen is a metal fabricator of livestock equipment, metal buildings and grain bins. Got a great tour of the nearly one million square foot plant, met and visited with a bunch of employees and suppliers. Every company has its own culture, and Behlen prides itself on its people. They weathered some tough times, have really bonded and have done great things as a company. The team spirit is infectious. Even met Sam, a 50 year employee, still going strong.

Touring the plant, one can occasionally see large crates ready for shipping with a hand-lettered sign that says, “This shipment is going to Russia”. Saw one that said “Sweden”, one labeled, “Africa”. It’s not hard to understand why the employees are pro-trade. They understand that open and free trade means jobs for them. A few years back, they opened a plant in China that’s going great guns to serve the China market. As a result, more folks are working in Columbus, Nebraska. Imagine that. During the Presidential campaign, John Kerry attacked Tony for opening a plant in China, finding it an unforgivable sin to get in the international trade game, apparently. No matter. Kerry lost, Tony and the employees of Behlen won. Saw a presentation today about their port project in Algeria. It’s 6 city blocks long and two city blocks wide. American excellence and ingenuity, being shipped around the world. Makes a manufacturer proud.

Anyway, thanks to all the good folks at Behlen for their hospitality and for doing great things for America and for American manufacturing, one piece of metal at a time.