Local leaders took a break from the Missouri State Fair to tour a local manufacturer Thursday afternoon during the annual Sedalia Showcase.
Gardner Denver was selected as the featured manufacturer for the 11th annual Sedalia Showcase, hosted by Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County. Gardner Denver manufactures air compressors for a wide variety of industries across the world. The company has grown significantly since the first compressor was assembled and shipped July 20, 1979. It has grown from 100 employees in 1979 to 300 in 2015.
“As a company, Gardner Denver selected Sedalia because of the growth potential, available source of trainable manpower, and cooperation and interest of community leaders,” Paul Dick, Director of Operations, Americas and Sedalia Plant Manager of Gardner Denver, told the audience. “… On the blower side we make PB blowers and vacuum blowers ranging anywhere from 2 inch to 22 inch gear size. On the locomotive side, we make locomotive compressors for companies such as GE.
“Also we make rotary screw compressors ranging from 25 horsepower up to 500 horsepower right here in Sedalia. You also saw our re-manufacturing area (during a tour for those in attendance), so you saw we also re-manufacture all of our product as well.”
Gary Gillespie, Vice President of Industrials Group, Americas, said Gardner Denver is a $2.4 billion company worldwide with a wide variety of products, “often operating quietly behind the scenes. So in many ways Gardner Denver is one of the biggest companies that nobody knows much about, yet we touch everybody’s lives every day with the products we manufacture.”
He gave examples such as vacuum service, automating the process of milking cows, moving breakfast cereal across plants such as Kellogg, and a variety of uses in the transportation industry.
The plant has expanded several times during its 35 years in Sedalia, including incorporating production lines from other locations throughout the country to Sedalia, which is the largest Gardner Denver plant in the world. The largest expansion to date came in 1991, when the Sedalia plant added 125,000 square feet, bringing the blower product line to Sedalia from California in an acquisition that added 125 jobs.
Those in attendance at the Sedalia Showcase included Gov. Jay Nixon, who applauded Sedalia and Pettis County on their dedication to economic development.
Nixon noted he has coffee out of a Gardner Denver coffee mug every morning, which he calls his “lucky” coffee mug.
“For 35 years, Gardner Denver’s facility has been on the forefront of innovation, making sure their customers have the equipment they need to power the world,” Nixon said. “This is a company that 63 percent of what they make is exported to compete with workers across the world, and winning, I should say. “
“… This is what happens when you make these kinds of solid investments in a community like this, hands-on partnerships through the government and public sector,” Nixon continued. “In a rapidly changing marketplace, business can take their investments and jobs almost anywhere. This facility could be anywhere in the world and it’s here and it’s not here by accident. It’s the skills of the folks in Pettis County and all across the great Show-Me State that give us our competitive edge.”
The Sedalia Showcase event also featured the future leaders of the manufacturing industry. Smith-Cotton High School’s Team SCREAM, who has partnered with Gardner Denver for sponsorships and mentorship, offered a demonstration of its robot KONG.
“This is our future, ladies and gentlemen. For me as a manufacturer, I see our future leaders, our future engineers, our future managers,” Dick said of Team SCREAM during his remarks. “These are the people we need, and that’s one of the reasons we partner with them because we see that talent, and we work with the local high school and local community college to make sure we’re seeding the program, because we’re going to have to replace our employees at some point and we see the value of Team SCREAM.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.