TPP in Real Life: Nebraska-Based Manufacturer Exports Equipment That Helps Feed the World

Behlen Mfg. Co. is a diversified company with three major business units run by 950 employees that manufacture livestock equipment and grain bins, buildings and many other products.

Behlen’s world headquarters is in Columbus, Neb., where the company has an 850,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Behlen also has manufacturing facilities in Omaha, Neb., Baker City, Ore., and McGregor, Texas, and sales and engineering offices in Boise, Idaho, and Loveland, Colo.

Behlen Headquarters in Columbus, Nebraska. Photo courtesy: Behlen

Behlen headquarters in Columbus, Neb. Photo courtesy: Behlen

Behlen was purchased in 1984 through a leveraged management buyout led by Tony Raimondo, the company’s current chairman. According to Raimondo, “Behlen had been a failed company that was losing $7 million per year on $30 million in annual sales. As we returned the company to profitability, we emphasized to our employees that our collective job security will be tied to the global competitiveness of the company, and that we will share in profits together.”

Behlen’s global strategy has proven to be a big success. In 2015, Behlen exported $20 million worth of products to markets around the world, primarily from its Columbus, Neb., facility.

Behlen exports include large commercial grain storage systems, which are installed at ports around the world, as well as a number of other products.

Behlen Commercial Grain Storage System in Kaliningrad, Russia. Photo courtesy: Behlen

Behlen commercial grain storage system in Kaliningrad, Russia. Photo courtesy: Behlen

Behlen exports constitute about 10 percent of the company’s total annual sales, and the jobs of an estimated 50100 employees are tied directly to exports. Behlen’s export markets include Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries like Australia and Mexico, as well as scores of other countries, including China, India, Russia and Ukraine. These products not only support jobs and communities in America, but they also help ensure safer and longer storage of food products, including tons of grain produced on U.S. farms that help feed the world.

Raimondo adds, “Behlen supports the TPP, as its ratification is critical to the continued success of manufacturing in the United States. Our company faces protectionist threats in markets around the world, including high tariffs and nontariff barriers. To push back against these measures, we need more agreements like the TPP that will support manufacturing in the United States and continue to improve our global competitiveness.”

Read more from the TPP in Real Life series here.

Ken Monahan

Ken Monahan

Director for International Trade Policy at National Association of Manufacturers
Ken Monahan is the Director for International Trade Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he works with NAM member companies to develop and advocate the association’s positions and priorities on trade agreement negotiations, ensure enforcement of existing trade agreement commitments, and other issues including the World Trade Organization (WTO), miscellaneous tariff bills, data flows and privacy, conflict minerals, forced localization, and other bilateral country trade matters (e.g., Colombia, South Korea, and the European Union and its member states). Mr. Monahan has on-the-ground experience negotiating trade agreements, having worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce on the WTO Doha Round negotiations, the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement and other international trade matters.
Ken Monahan

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