The article below ran in the "Hometown Press" newspaper on Oct. 5, 2017.
Manufacturing Day (Oct. 6) is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire and empower the next generation of manufacturers. Co-Line Welding, Inc. shares more about its role in the manufacturing industry and community.
Located five miles south of Sully on Hwy. T-33, Co-Line Welding, Inc. – originally known as County Line Welding in its inception in 1979 – is a force in the metal fabrication industry. For nearly 40 years, the company’s work has been a mainstay in a wide array of industries including automotive, recreational, agricultural, trucking, racing, communi-cations, United States military, home construction, firearms, construction and material handling, and recreational vehicles.
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Co-Line Welding, Inc.[/caption]
From its humble beginnings to today, Co-Line’s workforce of 171 team members strives to fulfill the company’s commitment to shaping the metal that moves the world.
Below is a question-and-answer with Co-Line Welding, Inc. owners Dale “Rail” Brand and Eric Brand:
What does your business specialize in?
Co-Line Welding, Inc., owned by Dale, Tana, Eric, and Faye Brand, provides advanced metal fabrication services and is proud to be firmly rooted in Iowa. The “Co-Line Edge” is a promise of the best quality, service, and overall value that is supported with quality fabrication technology and processes that are consistent with the best thinking in manufacturing today. Our ISO 9001:2015 certification reinforces that commitment. We provide fabrication services in the areas of metal stamping, laser cutting, welding, metal cutting and sawing, production CNC machining, CNC bending, design and engineering, and tool and die.
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Co-Line after a tornado 10 years ago.[/caption]
What are some of your business strengths or highlights?
Some of our toughest times have actually been our highlights in business because our team of employees became stronger and grew together. The farm crisis of the 1980s was a challenge – Co-Line shouldn’t have survived. The bank was wanting to sell us out, but I was able to convince them to allow us to keep trying a little while longer. In the late 1980s, we were actually expanding and building on.
In the late 1990s to early 2000s, our business grew rapidly in the automotive industry. Extreme periods of growth is the summary of those years. Romech, our largest customer at that time, was demanding us to sign an agreement that would commit nearly all of our resources to the automotive industry. I refused to sign, and ironically enough in 2007, they moved all their business from Co-Line out of the USA, and Romech closed its doors. This was also the time the Goalsetter owners decided to sell. Our largest customer was moving processes overseas, our second-largest customer was for sale, and we had just broke ground for (at that time) one of our largest building additions. But we made it through!
The F2 tornado that hit Co-Line in 2007 was another life experience that took us by surprise. Amazing community support, our employees, customers, vendors, and even total strangers helped make us a better company than we actually were before the tornado hit.
But by far, the most rewarding and meaningful project Co-Line has ever been part of is making ammunition magazines for the United States Department of Defense. Through a government contract with Brownells, we supplied magazines that were and still are saving soldiers’ lives and protecting our freedom. There were incredible quality standards we had to adhere to because having an ammunition magazine misfire is not an option in battle. It was the most purpose-driven project that Co-Line has ever been part of.
Surelatch™ – a gate latch and gate accessory line that began in 1988 and is still going strong today even with intense overseas competition.
Goalsetter™ – a height-adjustable in-ground basketball system sold nationwide, manufactured at Co-Line since 1991.
What are some challenges ahead?
Finding and retaining employees who want to work in rural Sully, Iowa. Continuing to be competitive with the unfairly government regulated overseas steel tarriffs and imports.
What is something local community members would be surprised to know?
Rail built our seven-acre lake out front as a sabbatical away from business in 2000. At a moment’s notice, he called a friend and had a scraper delivered the next day.
Our employees can get $5 haircuts, chair massages, and home-cooked meals while at work, just a few perks of working at Co-Line.
A third-generation employee was recently hired at Co-Line – his grandpa worked at Co-Line before passing away of cancer, his dad currently works at Co-Line, and now he is a Co-Line team member, reiterating Co-Line’s commitment to family.
What is on the horizon for Co-Line Welding, Inc.?
Completing our 120,000-square-foot addition with state-of-the-art automated liquid paint and powder coat line. Continued growth in technology, automation, and robotics.
What are the benefits of serving as a business owner/leader in Sully?
We are blessed by many very hard-working and talented employees who make their home in the Sully and surrounding areas. Working closely with Lynnville-Sully, other local schools, and colleges allows us to show the next generation what manufacturing is all about and how far it has come in Co-Line’s nearly four decades.
To learn more about Co-Line, visit www.colinemfg.com or follow Co-Line Manufacturing on Facebook.