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Elk River Machine Company

Elk River Machine Company (ERMC), a subsidiary of Cretex Companies, Inc., runs a build-to-print metal fabrication shop and manufactures processing equipment for the concrete producing industries. From its 80,000 square foot facility in Elk River, MN, ERMC provides diverse manufacturing services to industries including aerospace, defense, transportation, and energy. Founded in 1961 as a small blacksmith shop, today ERMC employs more than 75 people and has annual sales revenue of over $15 million.    

One of the largest obstacles the company faced in growing its sales was its lack of ISO certification and the internal discipline required to sustain it. ERMC knew that it could land new customers if it achieved ISO certification and grow the company with new sales.

Building on its healthy existing relationship, Enterprise Minnesota presented ERMC with a structured approach to becoming ISO certified. Enterprise Minnesota consultants created a project plan and attended bi-weekly meetings with representatives from various departments including quality control, sales, accounting, engineering, and manufacturing. The process for achieving ISO certification lasted ten months, with the first five months dedicated to designing and implementing ERMC’s ISO system, and the last five months were used to actually run the newly installed system.

With ISO certification in hand, ERMC estimates it has achieved a $3 million growth in sales, with 30% of those sales from new customers or new markets. In addition, ERMC retained approximately $1 million in sales it might have lost without the ISO certification. ISO certification is estimated to have led to the creation of five new jobs and a $400,000 investment in plant and equipment. 


“Achieving ISO status has impacted ERMC in ways we didn’t anticipate. For some companies having a Quality Management System or “QMS” is all about the quality. For ERMC, it’s a management system to improve how we run our business. It’s about having a management system in place that will allow our organization to grow beyond our entrepreneurial roots to become a company that can do much, much more. Focusing on the ‘M’ in our QMS has allowed us to improve our management system in ways that will enhance our organizational discipline and allow us to double the size of our operation.”

Jim Barthel – President
Elk River Machine Company
Elk River, MN