Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - February 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
EPCO Lights Up Ground Zero
Minnetonka manufacturer’s fixtures light the way for Freedom Tower construction workers.
As the Freedom Tower rises at Ground Zero, a Minnetonka lighting company’s products are illuminating the way for construction workers. Engineered Products Company (EPCO), a supplier of specialty lighting and other electrical products for contractors, is providing more than 1,000 of its TIGERcub temporary lights to the site.
EPCO’s TIGERcub temporary fixtures help construction workers do their jobs in brightly lit environments before permanent lighting systems are installed in a building. The 1,776-foot-tall, 105-story Freedom Tower is rising on the site of the former World Trade Center, and it’s expected to be completed in 2013.
Having EPCO’s lights on at Ground Zero is a point of pride for EPCO President Jack Schuster. “From our perspective it’s fun and it’s a privilege to be able to supply products to such a high-profile facility like the Freedom Tower,” says Schuster, who has been with the company since 1987. “It’s really neat to be involved with some of these buildings.”
Workers at Ground Zero are laboring thanks to EPCO’s TIGERcub 175 HID Type-O Temp Lights, a line of products that also were used during construction of the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field and TCF Stadium at University of Minnesota. So far the company has shipped more than 1,000 of the fixtures to New York, and it will send more as needed, Schuster says.
EPCO, a manufacturer since 1976, landed the work thanks to its relationship with a sales rep agency, Tri- Tech, in New York. EPCO typically sells its products to distributors with the help of sales reps like Tri-Tech, and the distributors then sell to contractors. Benfield Electric, a client of Tri-Tech, supplies the Freedom Tower electrical contractor, Five Star Electric; together they gave EPCO an entree to bidding on the project.
“It started with Tri-Tech and because of this relationship. Five Star needed this type of product and we got the job because we do an excellent job with service and we have the inventory to fulfill the supply channel,” says Schuster. “We can supply the quantity they need and they will continue to buy from us as the project
The fixtures, which can be reused, get disabled as electrical systems are installed on lower floors. Then workers move them higher in the skyscraper so they can continue building. The TIGERcubs are made for EPCO in China based on its semi-proprietary technology. Unfortunately once the Freedom Tower is completed, EPCO’s role will be over. The company doesn’t make permanent lighting systems appropriate to that type of building, Schuster notes.
But EPCO isn’t just a temporary lighting company. It also manufactures and sells lighting systems for a range of industries, from agriculture to commercial facilities. In total lighting comprises 40 percent of the company’s business. Another third goes to supplying cabling for data centers like Amazon, and the rest of EPCO’s offerings involve grounding products, heat shrink tubing, and other consumables for electrical contractors.
EPCO’s 61 employees manufacture many of its products in Minnetonka, while the company has others manufactured in China. In addition, EPCO utilizes 10-15 temporary workers and is enjoying a new relationship with Opportunity Partners, a neighboring nonprofit that coordinates employment for mentally and physically disabled adult clients. About 15 workers from Opportunity Partners have recently started doing assembly work at EPCO.
To learn more about Engineered Products Company, visit www.engproducts.com
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