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46 posts categorized "Manufacturing news"

April 07, 2014

New owner buys long-time Rochester plumbing supply firm

A Fargo, N.D. company is buying Woodruff Co., a 67-year-old Rochester plumbing and utilities wholesale supply firm.

WoodruffcoDakota Supply Group and the family-owned Woodruff have a purchase agreement and the sale is expected to close on April 30, according to Dakota CEO Todd Kumm. The deal includes Woodruff's Rochester complex at 1524 Third Ave. S.E. as well its Austin and Winona locations.

Dakota is a distributor of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, communications, filtration and metering systems. It has locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana

Co-owner John W. Woodruff said the main reason for the sale is that he's retiring, along with his brother and co-owner James W. Woodruff. They took over the company from their father, who co-founded it.

 "It's a good opportunity," he said.

The much-larger Dakota had previously approached the Woodruffs a few years ago, but the deal didn't come together back then.

"Now it's the right time to do it,"  said John Woodruff.

Dakota Supply Group Truck WrapOn the other side of the sale, Dakota agrees that the timing is right for this change.

"We believe a lot in the potential of Rochester and what's going to happen in the future," said Dakota's Kumm."This gives us a great physical location in a community that we feel is growing and expanding."

The company already has locations in La Crosse, Wis. and St. Paul, so this acquisition will fill in the area in between. Dakota, which has about 650 employees, is very familiar with Rochester, has previously sold metering systems to the city.

WoodlogocOne concern the brothers had was to make sure the deal would be good for their more than 20 employees. DSG's reputation as a good company  made it attractive. It's also owned by its employees through a stock ownership plan.

"We think that will be a benefit for the employees," he said.

Woodruff was founded by 1946 by James F. Woodruff, John D. Flowell and Frank C. Weber. The Woodruff family has long been very active in the community with involvement with Lourdes Catholic schools, Rotary Club and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

It built and moved into its current facility on Third Avenue in April 1964.

March 26, 2014

Area manufacturer to expand, add 14 jobs

A long-time southern Minnesota manufacturer says a $215,000 state tax credits based on adding more jobs helped convince it to expand here rather than on the West Coast.

M60stdHarmony Enterprises, which makes and services recycling and waste management equipment in the small town of Harmony, are one of five companies chosen for the new Minnesota Job Creation Fund program. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the the first round of businesses on Tuesday.

If Harmony Enterprises does as it has pledged and adds 14 new jobs to its current staff of 60 plus builds a $1.1 million expansion within two years, it will receive the $215,000 in tax credits over four years. The manufacturer, which also has a location in France, has been based in Harmony since 1962.

Owner and President Steve Cremer says the company has been growing quickly in the past few years and more growth appears to be on the way, particularly in Africa and Asia. That prospect had Harmony Enterprises considering its options on how expand its production. With so many of the firms competitors and customers located on the West Coast, they start looking at the possibility of adding a facility in California or Arizona.Bcb2003-open

Then they found out about the $24 million Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which began in January.

"We wanted to stay here. The community is good to us," said Cremer. "Now we'll start construction of a 6,000-square-foot addition in the spring."

The plan is to create a new drive-through shipping department, which will improve efficiency for the company and open up the current shipping area to revamped into more production space.

In addition to the improved shipping and the expanding production area, Harmony Enterprises is also ramping up its new service offerings. About a year and half ago, it launched a new service business. It contracts directly with companies to maintain and repair all recycling and waste management machines.

"That's our really big growth area. Many of the new jobs will be service jobs," he says.

November 14, 2013

Rochester Medical shareholders OK acquisition

Rochester Medical Corp., Stewartville's largest employer, became a  subsidiary of New Jersey-based C.R. Bard at 8 a.m. today following Wednesday's overwhelmingly positive shareholder vote.

Votes representing 8.4 million shares were counted in a Minneapolis board room of the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. The $262 million deal was approved by a vote of 8.1 million in favor to 179,156 against. Another 12,054 abstained. Rochester Medical had 12.3 million outstanding shares that were eligible to vote.

Rochester Medical's Chief Financial Officer David Jonas said the vote tally took about 30 minutes. About 20 people attended the voted.

Shares of Rochester Medical were trading at $20 at the close of the market on Wednesday.

Representatives of C.R. Bard are scheduled to discuss their future plans at an all-employee meeting Friday morning at the catheter manufacturing facility. Rochester Medical has about 250 employees in Stewartville with a total of 400 worldwide.

While no specifics have been discussed about what will happen to the Stewartville facility or its employees, the president of Bard’s Medical Division made encouraging comments to staff in September.

"We are making this merger because we really believe you have got a ton to bring to us. These are additive, these two companies. There is not a ton of overlap," said Peter Curry, according to documents filed with the  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This acquisition marks the end of the local ownership of the 25-year-old company co-founded and run by CEO Anthony Conway and his brother, Vice President Philip Conway. The CEO has previously said that he and his brother will remain "deeply involved in the transition … ensuring that our new products will get to market in a very timely fashion."

May 16, 2013

Rochester founder says Tenex is growing quickly

When pro basketball player Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers needed damaged tendons in his knee removed this week, his doctor opted for a noninvasive treatment developed by Mayo Clinic instead of the traditional surgery option.

TX1_handpieceGasol now is one of about 5,000 patients that have been treated with Tenex Health Inc.'s TX1 instrument, since the firm took its specialty needle system to market at the start of 2012.

Dr. Jagi Gill, of Rochester, founded Tenex in 2009, and it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Since then it has quickly been gaining traction and is now listing "multi-millions" in sales.

"We moved past the 'Will it work?' and 'Can we make it?' stages. Now we are building a sales team and working a marketing message," Gill said.

Tenex now is selling the system to doctors. The firm has 12 sales representatives, and he hopes to grow that number to 40 by the third quarter of 2013.

Gill began his career in Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurology. He has since worked at Boston Scientific as well as a number of biotechnology start-ups.

Tenex's one-time use, disposable handpiece was developed and commercialized in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Tenex licenses technology from Mayo Clinic and in turn, Mayo owns equity in Tenex. Images

"The folks at Mayo have been very helpful," he said.

The TX1 system uses ultrasound technology to treat damaged tendons or soft tissue in elbows, knees, ankles, feet and shoulders. Unlike surgery, patients can walk out after what is often a procedure no longer than 20 minutes.

"It is well-tolerated and safe as an injection," says Gill.

That and the quick recovery are making Tenex very popular with athletes, people with work-related injuries and patients who simply "want to have an active lifestyle."

Gasol is not the only celebrity who has discovered Tenex. TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest has also has his elbow treated with the TX1 system.

At one point, Tenex looked at Rochester, nearby Elk Run and even Willmar, Minn., as possible locations for a manufacturing facility. In the end, the decision was made to acquire the California company that handled the early manufacturing on a contract basis.

So why not do the manufacturing in Rochester?

"The challenge that any company would have in going here is that there isn't a lot of experience in terms of engineering, manufacturing, production, quality systems," says Gill.

He explained that medical device hotspots, not only have a medical system or university for generating ideas, but also "They have an imbedded group of people that know how to turn on an infrastructure."

April 04, 2013

Plug pulled on IBM's record breaking computer Roadrunner

IBM's record-breaking Roadrunner supercomputer was the fastest computer in the world when introduced five years ago.
But this week, it was retired and soon will be dismantled, surpassed by other machines in the fast-evolving world of supercomputers.
The Roadrunner, which owed much of its hybrid design and manufacture to Big Blue's Rochester campus, was the first machine to break the computer industry's "sound barrier" in 2008 by clocking a petaflop or one quadrillion calculations per second.

Roadrunner_1“We just all looked around and said, ‘We made it,’” stated Peter Keller, who was part of the Rochester manufacturing team that recorded that historic milestone on May 25, 2008.

The plug was pulled on the $121 million supercomputer on Easter Sunday at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

"Roadrunner, while I would not define it as strictly obsolete, it has been surpassed by newer technology," said Kevin Roark, of Los Alamos. "It's perfectly normal. …This is the natural progression."

Roadrunner's duties are being shifted over to Los Alamos' Cielo supercomputer, which is made by Seattle-based Cray Inc. Two years younger than Roadrunner, Roark describes it as faster, smaller, less expensive and more energy-efficient than its IBM predecessor.

Until it was shut down, Roadrunner ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week since being delivered to the laboratory via 25 trucks.

While it now is being experimented on as it waits to be dismantled and shredded, Roadrunner took Los Alamos' work on the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile to a new level.

"It has performed remarkably well. It has really helped us solve some fundamental problems that were essentially unsolvable before a computer of its speed," Roark said.

It wasn't just its speed that made Roadrunner so groundbreaking. The revolutionary hybrid design that coordinated the use of different types of computer chips, including Cell chips originally designed in Rochester to be used in Sony's PlayStation 3 video game system.

"Roadrunner was a truly pioneering idea," said Gary Grider, of Los Alamos' High Performance Computing Division, in a statement. "Roadrunner got everyone thinking in new ways about how to build and use a supercomputer."

Los Alamos teamed up with IBM to build Roadrunner from commercially available parts. They ended up with 278 refrigerator-size racks filled with two different types of processors, all linked together by 55 miles of fiber optic cable.

The supercomputer has been used over the last five years to model viruses and unseen parts of the universe, to better understand lasers and for nuclear weapons work. That includes simulations aimed at ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation's aging arsenal.

Roadrunner was the world's fastest computer for 18 months. At its peak, it was two times faster than Blue Gene/L, which was IBM’s star machine and the fastest computer in the world in 2007.

Its historic speed kept Roadrunner on the Top 500 Fastest Computers list, despite being outdated. It still ranked as 22nd fastest machine in the world in November.

IBM had four of the top 10 fastest computers on that November list, and all had roots in Rochester. Sequoia, a BlueGene/ Q, took the No. 2 spot behind Cray's Titan. Other BlueGenes — Miram JUQUEEN and Fermi — locked up the fourth, fifth and ninth spots.

March 01, 2013

Crenlo + Space and Naval Warfare Systems contract

Rochester's manufacturer, Crenlo, has been awarded a federal contract by The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which is part of the U.S. Navy.
I don't know a lot about it. It looks to be for customized cabinets under Crenlo's Emcor brand. The cabinets are slated to be used in a moderization project at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans. 
Navy_SPAWAR_LogoSPAWAR (which always makes me think of Spa War, like Liliac Wellness and Healing Touch fighting on some battlefield somewhere. Heh) has a long relationship with Mayo Clinic.
For many years, the Special Purpose Processor Development Group in the Mayo Support Center has had a contract with SPAWAR to develop/test electronics, some which are used with missiles.
Hhhmmm... Just noticed that contract was renewed last year for $28.4 million and it runs through 2017. Think I need to follow that up one of these days.
Anyway, back to Crenlo, I spotted a posting about its contract on the Federal Business Opportunities website from Feb. 27. Here's some of that:

The SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic, New Orleans Office intends to award a firm fixed price purchase order for the items on the attached document. Manufacturer-Crenlo.

CrenlotruckNo other product will be accepted. Brand name only - an equal product will not be accepted. This is a Small Business Set-Aside only. No electronic or hard copy Request for Quote (RFQ) will be prepared or made available for distribution.


Award will be made on an all or nothing basis. The Government will accept quotes from all responsible sources with the capability to provide the BRAND NAME product cited and will award a contract resulting from this RFQ to the responsible vendor whose offer conforms to the solicitation and is considered to be the Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable offer.

The part numbers must be the manufacturer's part numbers. The Crenlo cabinetry must conform to the critical design requirements of SSCLANT Drawing 29355-525209-01 (attached) and interface with the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), Visual Information Display System (VIDS), Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch and Visual Communications System (VISCOM) equipment procured for the National Airspace Modernization at NAS JRB New Orleans.

Crenlo EMCOR has devloped custom mechanical interfaces for this equipment.

January 21, 2013

Crenlo laying off 17 workers

Crenlo, which employs more than 600 workers at two locations in Rochester, has announced the imminent layoff of 17 hourly employees, according to news reports.

Office-buildingCrenlo's last major layoff was in 2009, when it laid off 193 employees during a rough fiscal year. The company recalled more than 140 of the laid-off workers, though about 30 were later laid off again.

Crenlo, which has two plants in Rochester, is a manufacturer of steel frame cab enclosures and rollover structures for equipment in the construction, agriculture, and commercial equipment markets. It also produces a line of electronic equipment enclosures.

The company was founded in Rochester in 1951. It is owned by International Equipment Solutions, an affiliate of KPS Capital Partners of New York City. That is the second owner since its local owners sold the company to an Illinois company, Dover Corp., in 1999.

October 18, 2012

Calif. tech firm pulls plug on Med City facility

A California tech firm recently pulled out of Rochester, after having an development lab here since 2006.

PMC-Sierra, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor maker, recently closed down its more than 8,500-square-foot facility at 3555 Ninth St. N.W. It moved into that space in 2010 and had about 20 employees working there at that time.

10162012pmcsierraIt is not know exactly when the Med City location closed up shop or even exactly why it closed. PMC-Sierra responded to questions with a brief statement attributed to Ron May, director of corporate marketing communications.

"The PMC Rochester facility opened in 2006 and our Adaptec acquisition in 2010 facilitated ending the project for which the site was originally opened; relocation assistance to our Colorado Springs facility or severance and job search assistance was offered to all remaining engineering employees."

It is unclear how the $34 million purchase of the "channel storage" division of a company like Adaptec impacted the Rochester site. PMC-Sierra spent at least $250,000 in November 2010 to build out the Ninth Street facility. It acquired Adaptec seven months prior to that.

Prior to the 2010 move, PMC-Sierra's Med City location had previously been based at 3605 U.S. 52 North in what used to be called the IBM White Buildings.

When asked what was driving its expansion in Rochester two years ago, PMC-Sierra released this statement:

 "... A large pool of experienced and talented individuals who have the technical expertise to work on PMC’s semiconductor solutions."

It is worth noting that PMC-Sierra was collaborating with IBM at that time  on "a multi-core, multi-threaded RAID solution" at that time. The resulting maxRAID device was used in Big Blue's new System x EXA servers.

While many details are not known, it is clear that PMC-Sierra has followed in the footsteps of other technology firms like JDS Uniphase and Celestica. It has definitely pulled the plug on its presence in Rochester.

October 11, 2012

Growing tech firm is dialing up larger Rochester facility

Communication is key to getting almost anything done today, making reliable cellular signals very valuable for businesses and individuals.
At the cellular level, keeping people and machines connected is what WPS Antennas is all about.

Just as the cellular industry has exploded in the past decade, WPS has grown from a tiny Rochester business into a global operation with major Fortune 500 companies as customers.

2256_66719545880_3480_nNow WPS, which was formed in 2001, has outgrown its base in the Rochester Airport Business Park on the south side of the city.

WPS Chief Manager Bob Crowley and Marketing Manager Matt Larson are now taking their company north to a much larger facility at 3035 40th Ave. N.W. near Rochester Restaurant Supply in the West Circle Drive Industrial Park.

Mike Haley, of Braasch Commercial Real Estate, handled the deal.

"We're more than doubling our space," Larson syas. "We're essentially going from 2,600-square-feet up to 6,000 square feet."

That means the 10-employee firm will have more room to warehouse its cellular antennas, cabling and related equipment.

When WPS began in 2001, it carried less than 100 different antennas and parts to serve customers. That number has skyrocketed to more than 5,700.

While WPS is not adding staff, the expansion means the firm will be more efficient in designing and assembling customized antennas for its wide variety of clients.

"Right now, everyone is stacked on top of each other," Larson says.

WPS has already started its move. If everything goes as planned, Larson expects to be completely up and running in the new facility by the end of the month.

These aren't your father's TV antennas. WPS provides antenna systems for a national movie DVD vending machine firm plus all sorts of other vending machines that accept credit cards. Their systems can also be found in bank ATMs, cash registers, alarm systems and many other everyday machines that need a constant signal.

WPS antennas are not always the primary communication link. Many companies use antennas as "fail-safe" devices to keep data flowing when a cable is broken. A couple of convenience store chains sport WPS antennas on their roofs to keep the cash registers talking to the head office, even if a backhoe digs through a communication line.

"We're kind of like a backup power generator," Larson says.

Another, smaller piece of their business, is helping homeowners and small businesses to boost cellular phone reception within buildings.

Cellular coverage is becoming such a necessity in today's society that local doctors and others who are on-call for emergencies avoid businesses without adequate signals, Larson says.

October 04, 2012

Stewartville co. to build $10M expansion, add 50 to 60 jobs

A Stewartville manufacturer says it will soon build a $10 million to $12 million complex and add 50 to 60 new jobs.

Jim Conway, CEO and president of catheter maker Rochester Medical Corp., says the 54,000-square-foot complex will include an automated production line, clean-room packaging facilities, offices and warehouse space.

The expansion is expected to increase production by about 1 million catheters, and the company anticipates adding 50 to 60 employees to its Stewartville work force of about 250. Rochester Medical has about 400 employees worldwide.

The new building will be near Rochester Medical's current facility on the hill above Pizza Ranch, overlooking U.S. 63. Conway says it will be built on a field long slated for expansion. Company officials are waiting for bids from contractors but hope to have the project under way this fall.

Rochester Medical updated its manufacturing lines this spring, which increased production by 50 percent.

The firm, which sells about two-thirds of its products outside of the United States, posted its best-ever earnings in May and a record $15.25 million in sales. It wrapped up its fourth quarter at the end of September, and the 2012 earnings are expected to be released by the end of this month.

The expansion is driven by a new project that is picking up speed.

"The main reason we want to get started right now is a new catheter technology that we are super excited about," Conway says. "We didn't know this was coming. This has come up in the past seven or eight months."

While he is keeping the technical details under wraps for now, this new development is described as "very significant," and Rochester Medical is anxious to get it to the market.

The company historically has focused on unique innovations vs. "me-too" products. This week it released a new type of male external catheter with a special adhesive that allows moisture to be wicked away through its silicone sheath. It's the first of its kind on the market.

"That's the only way we are able to compete with the multi-billion-dollar companies that are our competitors," Conway says.

He says Rochester Medical's unconventional approach to research and design has fueled its success. Instead of a separate R&D department, it uses small teams made up of people from all areas, like research, manufacturing, packaging and marketing, to work on projects. That approach brings a variety of viewpoints together to develop a new product and a path to take the concept to market.