Large Manufacturer of the Year: GNP Company
For more than 80 years, GNP Company (known better to consumers as Gold'n Plump) has made a significant impact on the poultry industry in Minnesota. Based in St. Cloud, it's evolved from a small seasonal hatchery to a fully integrated broiler chicken operation, including breeder flocks, hatcheries, milling its own feed, and processing and selling its own products.
According to Lexann Reischl, corporate relations manager, the company has embraced numerous industry firsts, includ- ing being one of the first poultry companies to offer a clear, leak-proof package with a traceability feature allowing con- sumers to learn of the family farm where it was raised.
"We are also the first poultry company in the county to offer a full line of fresh, fixed-weight, scannable products providing easier-to-merchandise product," Reischl says. "And we were the first to place a freshness date code on an entire line of fresh chicken products, providing consumers the assurance of fresh, high-quality chicken."
GNP Company believes its influence on local communities extends beyond direct payment of wages and taxes. "By supporting local businesses in the supply chain, we can attract investment to the local economy and help build healthy, thriving communities," Reischl says. This is evident in the millions of meals it donates each year and the numerous awards for excellence it's received over the years. "Our membership in the Minnesota Keystone Program for 24 years, for donating five percent of pre-tax profits to charitable causes each year - this is evidence of our community impact, as is the four United Way awards our company won in 2011."
And other numbers don't lie about GNP's success: 34 percent of its workforce has been with the company for at least 10 years, and many for 20 and 30 years. And about half of all family farm partners have been with the company for more than 20 years.
"In 2011, we achieved 99.7 percent order accuracy, 92 percent order fill rate, 99.4 percent case fill rate, and 99.8 percent on-time delivery for our customers," Reischl says.
So what does the future hold for GNP? "In addition to our multiyear expansion completed in Arcadia, Wisconsin, GNP will be continuing to invest in our people and communities," Reischl says. "We will also continue our commitment to innovation and continuous improvement."
Large Manufacturers of the Year finalists
For Paul Gintner, president of BTD in Detroit Lakes, his company's great- est attribute is its employees. "Our customers have come to rely on our ‘get it done' attitude and our focus on the customer," he says. "We strive to align and grow the business by listening to what the customer wants to accom- plish. Our philosophy is that if our customer does not sell something, then we do not sell something. Our people truly understand that our customers have helped BTD truly become a one-stop shop for metal fabrication."
Since its inception, BTD has experienced tremendous growth, expanding from one plant in Minnesota in 1979 to six plants today in four cities: two in Detroit Lakes, two in Lakeville, and one each in Otsego and Washington, Illinois. "We employ 650 people in the state of Minnesota, along with an additional 220 in Illinois," Gintner says. "We're proud to see many BTD leaders growing up in the company with very long tenures with BTD."
In addition to being elected into the Polaris Hall of Fame in 2008, BTD is helping many community causes through its philanthropic efforts.
Gintner feels proud of his workforce's growth. "By residing in rural Minnesota for many years, BTD has trained many people who entered the metal fabrication industry with no knowledge of this business," he says. "One of BTD's great successes is not just growing a company, but building a team to grow a company. BTD has a very bright future with all the great people who support BTD and our customers."
Proto Labs, based in Maple Plain, is a unique combination of high-tech and manufacturing. "We are the fastest provider of prototype or low-volume machined or molded parts in the world," says Bill Dietrick, vice president of marketing.
The company has grown from an idea to a highly profitable 600-plus-employee business in 13 years by using technology to accelerate standard manufacturing processes to help product developers bring ideas to market faster than ever before possible, explains Dietrick.
He says the company also has an exceptional marketing and sales engine that drives its fast growth in North America, Europe, and Japan - all of which are backed by a scale of operations that is unmatched globally.
Brad Cleveland, as president and CEO, says he's most proud of his employees: "They have overcome significant challenges along the way, includ- ing the global recession of 2008-2009. We emerged from that period with two years of 50 percent growth, a huge recognition of our business model and the people that drive it forward."
Cleveland says Proto Labs will continue to expand globally to serve an increasing number of product developers, offering them additional services with ever-increasing capabilities to handle new materials and greater geometric complexity.