Once a Ranger...
Jeff and Gina Halter demonstrate the benefits of returning home to Minnesota’s Iron Range
By Lynn Shelton
Enterprise Minnesota's Director of Marketing and Legislative Relations
(Lynn Shelton, director of marketing and legislative relations, Enterprise Minnesota)
One of the greatest sources of resilience and strength on Minnesota’s Iron Range is its people. There is probably no better example than the case of Jeff and Gina Halter, which we first read about in the in the Hibbing Daily Tribune, and then repurposed in our own Enterprise Minnesota magazine. In case you missed it, we share their story again in our Weekly Report to share the Halter’s inspirational story.
Gina was born and raised in Grand Rapids and the couple always consider the Range to be home. So, after 20 years working in Florida, they decided to return home and last summer purchased Range Steel Fabricators (RSF) in Hibbing from Ray Lee, whose family had owned the company since the 1920s.
“We wanted to come back home,” Jeff told the Tribune. He was eager for a professional change from a career in financial services and real estate.
RSF, a steel and aluminum fabrication and machining manufacturing facility, gave them an opportunity to come home.
“We wanted to raise them [our kids] in an environment we’re comfortable with,” Halter said. “So this was really about changing careers with me and getting the kids to a place we’re more comfortable having them go to school and raising them. Those are the two main reasons.”
With a background as an operations executive, being at the helm of a business and working in a steel manufacturing plant are both new challenges for Halter.
“I have no background in metal fabrication. I ran operations at several different groups,” he said. “A lot of the Six Sigma and lean principles that are key to manufacturing were part of my job, but it wasn't in a manufacturing environment … so it’s a big shift for us.”
Nonetheless, the past year has gone well, growing from seven to 17 people on the payroll. The growth has been due in part to improving communications, creating a website and a Facebook page and increasing the number of computer-based operations.
“Our big focus is modernizing technology and processes so that we can grow,” Jeff said. “The bottom line is to be cheaper for new customers. In manufacturing it’s all about efficiency. If you're efficient, you can bid lower. If you can bid lower, you're going to strike a relationship with a new customer.”
He described his vision of evolving from a welding-based operation to a modernized manufacturing facility. “We find that a lot of people might not be familiar with Range Steel, so getting our name out there is huge. We want to be the place where the fabricators want to work. We want to be the place they’re knocking on the door.”
Time to Rethink Your Manufacturing Strategy?
**Exclusive to Manufacturers**
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Sartell Community Center
850 19th St. S.
Sartell, MN 56377
What to Expect
- Does your corporate vision include the right combination of strategic mission, values, and objectives to help your company compete and grow?
- Is your business effectively integrating your strategic vision into its existing organizational culture?
- How well do you understand your competition or how technological advancements will impact your business?
- Are you incorporating your customers’ strategy into your strategic thinking?
- Do you know how to create distinct market advantages that will be difficult for competitors to copy or substitute?
Steve Haarstad, an Enterprise Minnesota business growth expert, will share his knowledge and insights around rethinking and retooling your business strategy to be best positioned to manage current challenges and to take advantage of future growth opportunities.
This event is exclusive to manufacturers and is free of charge. Registration required.
To register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.