After 10 years, tool manufacturing officially returns to DeWitt, Nebraska as Malco Products, SBC, celebrates the grand opening of its new production facility. As part of the company’s expansion, Malco will be bringing jobs back to DeWitt, a decade since the VISE-GRIP factory closed and moved its operations to China in 2008.
During the community celebration on Friday, Oct. 19, Malco also unveiled its new Eagle Grip professional-grade locking pliers that will be manufactured in DeWitt. Tool production will begin on Monday, Oct. 22, and Eagle Grip will make its official debut at the National Hardware Show in May 2019.
Malco Products, based in Annandale, Minnesota, is the nation’s leading manufacturer of high-quality, American-made tools for the HVAC trade (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). Manufacturing “tools of the trade” for HVAC professionals, exterior remodeling professionals, fence, deck and rail installation professionals, and autobody repair and refinishing professionals, Malco is backed by nearly 70 years of history, and was recently named the 2018 Medium Manufacturer of the Year by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
As an employee-owned Specific Benefit Corporation, a legal designation that indicates that a specific social benefit — employee ownership, keeping jobs local and strengthening communities — is the primary driver of its business decisions.
“We are proud to re-open the plant and bring manufacturing jobs back to DeWitt, and the United States,” said Malco Products president and CEO Mardon Quandt. “As our company continues to expand, we were looking for an opportunity to add a new locking pliers product to our line-up and sought a location that had the infrastructure that would allow us to ramp up quickly, create jobs and make an impact on the local community. We found all of that and more in DeWitt, and are excited to once again put the skilled workers who live in and around DeWitt back to work.”
Malco’s grand opening festivities included factory tours for invited guests, a street dance, food catered by the town’s restaurant, ice cream from DeWitt’s grocery store, and a visit from Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.
“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. Nebraska is excited to welcome Malco Products to our state, and we appreciate the company’s decision to invest in DeWitt.”
Seven of the new full-time employees hired to start up operations previously worked at the VISE-GRIP factory. They bring skills and experience uniquely suited to the make-up of the initial Malco team in DeWitt. It will be a modest start, but Malco plans to continue creating new jobs as production increases.
“When VISE-GRIP packed up and moved overseas in 2008, DeWitt residents maintained hope that another company would bring manufacturing jobs back here one day,” said Randy Badman, DeWitt’s Village Board of Trustees Chairman and former VISE-GRIP plant employee of 36 years. “Now the town is extremely excited and we hope that our community will grow with new manufacturing jobs. We couldn’t be happier that Malco has set up shop here in DeWitt, and see it as a positive sign for our economy, not only in Nebraska, but throughout the whole country.”