Leading Success in Trailers
Success doesn’t have to mean moving far from home or even to the nearest larger city. Success at home or close to home is just as sweet. And it creates jobs right here in mid Minnesota.
Tim Burg and Joel Bauer are the owners of Midsota Mfg, a trailer manufacturer in Avon, and long-time member of TSMA. Midsota Manufacturing was recently named the 2018 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owners of the Year by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce because of their business success and community engagement.
Both Burg and Bauer grew up in Stearns County and that’s where their hearts — and their business — remain. “We take our role as an employer seriously,” said Burg. “That’s probably the best part of owning this business—watching the people we employ succeed. They know we’ll do whatever we can for them — and they want to help us, too.”
Burg and Bauer have rapidly grown their business. In fact, they employ 130 people, 100 more than 10 years ago. Last March they completed a 30,000-square-foot sandblasting, paint and finishing facility. They also purchased new office space at the same time.
Midsota Manufacturing was the first company to create and sell their flatbed and dump trailer combination. “Everyone thought about it, but no one did it,” said Bauer. “We decided to take the best parts of the flat bed trailer, and the best parts of the dump trailer and put them together. We were one of the first to do that and now it’s common.” That kind of innovation has driven their growth, and they are always on the lookout for the next innovation to include as standard on new trailers. “Other manufacturers think you don’t need it, or it’s too expensive, or too hard to sell to the customers,” continued Bauer. “We do it and two to three years later everyone’s doing it. That used to bother us, but it doesn’t anymore. It just pushes us to stay on top of our game.”
Midsota was also early in the use of robots. Robots joined the Midsota welding team 15 years ago and they have lead the trailer industry in the use of automation. They use robots or automation to eliminate repetitive or boring jobs which, in turn, has allowed opportunities for more skilled jobs for employees, such as assembling the trailers, putting on swing doors and sides, and adding accessories to customize the trailers.
Keeping up with the demand for their products has been one of their biggest challenges. They have had companies interested in becoming dealers and were willing to wait months in order for manufacturing to be ready for the additional sales.
Burg and Bauer believe high quality and strong customer service have worked to create demand for their product. “Tim and I go to all the dealer shows,” said Bauer. “We visit our dealers and people know they can get ahold of an owner if they want to. They know there’s someone here who really cares about the product.”
Midsota Manufacturing initially started as Sands Welding Incorporated in a garage in Albany, Minnesota in 1971. In 2002 the company was renamed to Midsota Manufacturing Inc. and Joel Bauer joins the company in sales, after previously working there in college. In 2004 Midsota purchased its first robot; Bauer became a one-third owner. Midsota had 11 employees, and produced about 500 trailers per year. In 2005, the company moved from Albany to a larger facility in Avon, MN. In 2008 Tim Burg bought one-third ownership from a previous owner. In 2010 Midsota purchased three acres to expand retail space and in 2011 added a cold storage warehouse facility. In 2013 Bauer and Burg bought out a former one-third owner and own the company 50-50. In May of 2014, Midsota purchased an additional 50,000-square-foot facility in Avon directly across Interstate 94 from their current location. In 2018, Midsota completed construction on another facility at their newly purchased site. These two expansions have added over 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Midsota now uses all three facilities to produce 29 models and 2,600 over trailers per year.
This article was compiled and much appreciation is extended to Gail Ivers, Managing Editor, of the Business Central Magazine produced by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce in her article titled Opportunity Knocking.