Nebraska Manufacturers Honored As 2015 Businesses of the Year

barn on the plainsEarlier this month, the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) announced their six winners for Business of the Year. As expected, several of these businesses are manufacturers who were lauded for various areas of excellence in sustainability, innovation, and more.

On March 18, the winners will be presented with their awards in Lincoln, Nebraska, from a group including representatives from the Unicameral, Nebraska Economic Development Director, Courtney Dentlinger, and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley. “The NBDC Advisory Board selected the winners for exemplifying the contribution small businesses make to Nebraska’s economy,” Robert Bernier, state director, told the McCook Gazette last week.

The NBDC has been in operation since 1977, when UNO was awarded one of only seven federal contracts to create the University Business Development Center. Since its inception, the center has been a pioneer in small business development, even playing the leading role in creating the Association of Small Business Development Centers. In 2011, UNO became just the eighth program to receive accreditation by the ASBDC as a Small Business and Technology Development Center. In Nebraska, they’re truly invaluable to the small businesses and rural organizations for whom they consult on a regular basis.

In addition to their other duties (of which there are many!), the center recognizes Nebraska organizations each year with their Business of the Year Awards. They present awards for the Champion of NBDC Small Business, Government Contractor of the Year, Export Business of the Year, Innovation Business of the Year, Manufacturing Business of the Year, and Sustainability Business of the Year.

This year, several manufacturers took home the gold in a couple different areas. You can read about the full list of businesses who have fueled our state’s economy here, but here are two of the manufacturers who demonstrated excellence in their fields this year:

Brand Hydraulics of Omaha: The company, founded in 1956, took home the Manufacturing Business of the Year Award. In 2013, the company partnered with NBDC to implement lean manufacturing concepts. “NBDC has been with us ever since we started down our lean journey in 2013,” says Brand’s Executive Vice President, Charlie Klahn. “Rachel Baxter came in and conducted a lean workshop and got the whole production side involved.”

Today, the company designs, manufactures, and assembles hydraulic valves, but they do so by having workers focus on one product at a time rather than multiple products at the same time. Scott White, Brand’s production manager, says the company had been building valves the same way for decades. “Now, with what we’ve learned, our whole production area has changed,” he says. “We’ve moved out nearly half the tables we had in our production area, and instead of straight lines and batch processing, we are now utilizing one piece flow. We’ve configured cells that enable us to streamline the process.”

Sand Creek Post and Beam: Family-owned Sand Creek Post & Beam won the award for sustainability as they manufacture custom designed wood barn and barn home kits. They are located in Wayne, Nebraska, and focus on post and beam construction using historic designs. They’ve also worked hard to implement lean manufacturing.

However, the manufacturer focuses on being mindful about their product. “It is clear that Sand Creek Post & Beam is committed to producing a sustainable product in a sustainable manner,” NBDC agent Jean Waters says. “They even donate 10 lodgepole pines or Douglas fir trees with every kit they sell.”

Congratulations to all of the winners—we feel fortunate to have you in our state!

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photo credit: 01-09-10 Skagit Barn in White via photopin (license)