Thursday, Oct. 26, was a good day to be a Co-Liner. At the quarterly meeting that day, employees enjoyed a free lunch catered by Country Catering and paid for by 1st State Bank. Ten Co-Line employees and two staffing agency employees were welcomed to their first quarterly meeting. For the third quarter, $2,860 was shared with 53 employees and 24 spouses for wellness program rewards.
Next, Co-Liners heard a review of on-time delivery, quality, productivity, and profitability measurements as well as what went right and what hurt in the third quarter. The 2018 outlook for sales is strong, and Co-Line continues to be very diversified. The company is experiencing more work than we can commit to, something the sales team has not experienced since pre-2008 market conditions. The bonus program for 2018 was also reviewed. All Co-Liners received an across-the-board raise and were challenged to make the fourth quarter a successful quarter with great bonus potential on top of the raise and years-of-service bonus.
About 120 Co-Liners took a lap around Lake Seven-A as part of the Healthiest State Walk on Oct. 4. They joined Iowans from every county in taking steps toward healthier living through the Healthiest State Initiative’s annual walk. Following the walk, employees were treated to a free healthy meal by Country Catering.
For the second year in a row, Co-Line has been named one of the best finishing shops in North America. That’s according to an industry benchmarking survey conducted by “Products Finishing” magazine, a trade publication which has covered the industry since 1938.
The magazine conducted an extensive benchmarking survey that analyzed hundreds of finishing companies in several different areas, including Current Finishing Technology, Finishing Practices and Performances, Business Strategies and Performances, and Training and Human Resources.
Only the top 50 shops were given the honor of being a “Products Finishing” magazine “Top Shop” based on a scoring matrix in those four criteria.
“Co-Line has established itself as one of the best finishing operations in the industry,” said Tim Pennington, editor of “Products Finishing” magazine. “The criteria we used was very stringent, and only the top finishing shops that excelled in all four areas made the list. Co-Line is in rare air when it comes to finishing operations.”
After a strong storm this past summer shattered the window in the south end of the north building and tore the flag that hung there beyond repair, a new flag was hung by Tim Collins on Saturday, Oct. 14. Many may remember the original flag hung after the tornado in 2007 had special meaning. The original flag donated by the deWayne and Tina Lemons family started its career in the United States Navy, flying above the decks of the carrier USS Independence. It was fitting at that time for the flag to be displayed where an unforeseen event caused so much damage. Still proud to be Americans, it was important to the Brand family to rehang a new flag to remind everyone that enters our facilities what it means to be an American and a business in the USA.
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.
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.
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.
Brands: 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.
Montezuma sixth graders left the classroom behind and came to Co-Line to learn first-hand what goes on inside our north manufacturing building on Sept. 22. The students enjoyed their time at Co-Line, including checking out the foam packager in the Goalsetter packaging area, guessing a coil weight, and dressing up like welders.
A group of Grinnell High School welding students visited Co-Line on Thursday, Sept. 21. The group of 10 students and one chaperone toured both buildings and participated in a mock interview as well. The students were very engaged in what they were learning and asked good questions throughout their visit. Several students sent personal emails thanking those involved for their time and expressed how much they enjoyed the tour. One student even commented, “It was really awesome to see how everything works, and I really am considering applying as soon as I’m out of high school.”
Co-Line held its first ever Amazing Race on Friday, Sept 1. The race was an idea generated late last winter by the Wellness Committee. Eight teams of four Co-Liners signed up. The first group had an additional challenge: Darkness still at 6 a.m. – something the planning committee forgot to take into consideration. We may need to move the race up in the summer next year!
The challenges included a kayak race from the beach to the water’s edge to get the lighted baton and back to the beach to hand off to the runner of the team. The runner then took off through the grass around Lake Seven-A for their quarter-mile race. Up the steep embankment, they handed off the baton to their bicyclist, who circled the north building, raced across the dam, and went down to the horse shoe pits for the final challenge. Throwing a ringer was not hard for Todd Kaldenberg, who nailed it on his second try in the 6 a.m. group! He claims he hasn’t played horse shoes in 30 years! The second group at 9:00 had a little bit more of a challenge at the horse shoe pits and after 20 minutes, Rail and Eric Brand decided to have a sudden death of “whoever was closest.” Andy Elbert’s throw was deemed the closest, which earned him and his teammates (Elliott Mapes, Cory Tice, and Monica Nikkel) second place.
Despite some sore muscles, the darkness, and the slippery grass, most are looking forward to doing it again next year. For now, Todd and his teammates (Jeff Schut, Jason Allbee, and Ryan Johnson) have bragging rights and also each received a $25 gift card and Co-Line water bottle.