Saturday, August 10, 2013
As outsourcing and downsizing become increasing concerns for people who work in manufacturing, a Harper company Saturday celebrated local ownership and an expansion.
Harper Industries held an open house to mark 15 years of being back under local, private ownership and the company cast an eye toward the future with a ribbon-cutting to the plant's latest expansion.
Anybody who has spent much time in cattle country is familiar with the strength of the DewEze bale bed, a pickup flat bed equipped with hydraulic arms that can lift a large round bale of hay.
However, Tim Penner, Harper Industries' majority owner, said the real strength of his company is the community it calls home.
"We're all locally based," he said. "We all live in the Harper area and we all work here full-time."
Many in Harper County say the company is a good community partner.
"The employees love it," Harper County farmer Quinn Pence said. "They're very loyal to the community and very loyal to their customers."
The 100-plus employees of Harper Industries manufacture and market a variety of agricultural and turf equipment. That product line -- and the company -- expanded recently.
"We have a joint venture with the Horsch company out of Germany and we are building 60-foot corn and soybean planters," Penner said.
He said expansion and diversification will make Harper Industries even stronger, creating job stability where it is needed most.
"We believe that manufacturing can happen in the U.S.," Penner said. "It's not necessary that we export jobs to other places, but it can happen right here in the U.S. and, more than anything, in rural Kansas."
Harper Industries was locally owned from the time it was founded in the early 1970s until 1991, when it was bought by an out-of-state company. Penner and his employees bought the company in 1998.