Although manufacturing is critically important to our national economy, several companies throughout the years have completely outsourced their operations overseas to save on product and labor costs, despite the repercussions. Malco thinks differently. For decades, Malco has been manufacturing quality tools of the trade at our Annandale, MN headquarters. As an employee-owned Specific Benefit Corporation (SBC), we value strengthening our communities and economy by keeping jobs in America. When an opportunity arose to expand our manufacturing operations for Eagle Grip locking tools in the heartland of Nebraska, we knew that it was meant to be.
Expanding Operations to DeWitt to Keep Jobs in America
In 2017, Malco purchased the former Vise-Grip® factory in DeWitt, Nebraska, with assistance from the Village of DeWitt Board of Trustees and the state of Nebraska. In 2018, we celebrated the grand opening of our new production facility. It has been over 10 years since the Vise-Grip factory in DeWitt was closed and operations were moved to China, so Malco is proud to be the company that brought back tool manufacturing jobs to the Village of DeWitt, Nebraska. “We are acting our values, providing good jobs for American workers, and supporting tool manufacturing in the United States,” said Malco Director of Sales and Marketing Eric Peterson.
“The iconic Vise-Grip was created in DeWitt nearly 95 years ago in 1924, meaning the closure of the plant in 2008 was so much more than a loss of jobs for this community,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “Opening this plant brings great opportunities back to DeWitt and helps build on the community’s legacy of building things and making things.”
How the Vise-Grip Plant Closure Impacted the Community
To gain some perspective on how the decision to close down the plant affected the community, let’s highlight some insights from former Vise-Grip employees and local residents. “My grandparents worked here. My mother and father worked here. My aunt and uncle worked here. My kids worked here. My wife worked here. We all lived in the same block, on the same corner. We all worked at the factory,” noted Randy Badman, a former 36-year Vise-Grip employee. When asked about how he felt when he was let go, Randy said, “You go through all the emotions: anger, depressed (what did I do wrong), and self-doubt.”
“It was pretty hectic. We were all still trying to get product out the door that they wanted. Everybody was working overtime. We really busted it to get it all done. I think we were all hoping that they would change their minds, but they didn’t,” said Dave Harms, a former 29-year Vise-Grip employee, and the current Malco process specialist.
Nancy McDougall, a former 21-year Vise-Grip employee, noted, “The last days working at Vise-Grip was almost like going to a funeral. Every day, people were literally crying and hugging. You didn’t want to say goodbye to anyone because they’re like your family.”
A New Era is Born with Eagle Grip
Everything changed when Malco decided to expand operations to DeWitt. The cozy, small-town community was now beaming with optimism. Malco Plant Manager Lucas Runke said, “There is new energy and hope in the DeWitt community by having Malco supporting the local business and bringing more jobs into the town.”
“I was like an overjoyed little kid to hear that there was a company that was family-oriented that wanted to come to our town,” noted Nancy McDougall.
Meryl Zimmerman, a lifelong DeWitt resident, stated, “We’re so happy to have another company coming in. I think it’s going to be the best thing that’s happened to DeWitt in ages.”
We are pleased to announce that many of the current employees of the Eagle Grip facility are former employees of the Vise-Grip plant. They bring valuable skills and experience uniquely suited to our industry and product offerings. Now and moving forward, keeping jobs in America is one of our top priorities. Since we began operations, we’ve been working diligently to ensure that we provide trade professionals with the highest quality and strongest locking tools on the market. In 2021, we will be releasing the entire Eagle Grip line of locking pliers, seamers, and clamps for our customers. Stay tuned for updates on the official product launches!