Hundreds gathered to celebrate Custom Product’s 60th anniversary Friday.
The company, formerly known as Reinke Sheet Metal and Manufacturing, was founded by Arvid Reinke, current owner Randy Reinke’s father, in 1959. The company creates agricultural products such as the “Cozy Cab” for every brand, size and shape of tractors. Throughout the decades, the company expanded its plant from 1,000 square feet to more than 150,000 square feet in 2016.
“It’s a constant change, for one,” Randy Reinke said, regarding adjustments that are made in his company. “I mean, keeping up with our customers, technology, you know, we are a component supplier. We’re always buying new equipment, technology — staying competitive on that end — and workforce development in the labor pool.”
During the celebration, which included lunch for visitors, tour guides offered attendees a look around the plant’s construction site — showing how a cab is manufactured.
Though growth at the Litchfield plant has been constant, Custom Products is unlikely to launch a new location, Reinke said.
“You start all over,” he said. “(It’s) a huge investment and you’ve got to build a workforce there (and) employee management… It’s not just building a plant, someone’s got to run it. There’s a lot of duplication of effort to have a satellite plant.”
The current economic climate has affected steel prices, according Mike Watson, Custom Product’s sales manager.
“We’ve had to manage through some tariffs,” Watson said. “We’ve had to manage through some steel increases. Well I think, in the last year, you can say, it’s gone up to 20 percent. But from my standpoint, it’s about reaching out to our customers and trying to get some sort of an agreement in place to work through that. … It goes up and down, currently it’s back down kind of where it was within a year or year-and-a-half ago.”
Steel prices increased with the threat of tariffs, according to Robert Kill, president and chief executive director of Enterprise Minnesota, who visited Custom Products Friday.
“But I was at a company yesterday in Winona that just got a major contract because of the tariffs,” Kill said. “They just got this business. The nice thing is it’s going to lead to some automation work that this company is going to now put in — employing more people.”