Last Monday, we joined Sen. Aric Putnam (DFL-St. Cloud) for a tour of Sauk Rapids-based Pinnacle Climate Technologies. Pinnacle, which designs, manufactures, and distributes heating and cooling products, hosted Sen. Putnam for a conversation about current issues facing manufacturing and a tour of the company.
Sen. Putnam introduced and championed legislation last session to support Enterprise Minnesota’s key funding requests. We were impressed with his engaging questions and sincere interest in the company and its challenges as we walked through the 120,000 square foot facility.
Sen. Putnam’s visit was one of the dozens we coordinate each year to build connections between manufacturers and their elected officials. Instead of just telling legislators what manufacturing does for their communities, we like to show them. Though they have great stories, manufacturers are usually so hard at work in their anonymous-looking facilities that their own representatives often don’t know about their innovative products or the outstanding jobs they create.
Pinnacle’s leaders shared how they grew from an agricultural cooling company–think of those massive fans inside greenhouses and livestock buildings–to an international manufacturer and distributor of climate control products, from industrial fans to the portable heaters used inside duck blinds and ice houses.
Sen. Putnam generously gave us nearly an hour for conversation before heading to the factory floor. Pinnacle leaders outlined key challenges, including the still-persistent worker shortage. And Sen. Putnam suggested local and state resources for tapping into non-traditional labor pools.
Pinnacle also described the burden of complying with new employment laws enacted by the legislature during the last session. With 90 employees, a generous benefits package, and a dedicated HR department, compliance with the new laws is a challenge for Pinnacle, and a genuine hardship for smaller companies across the state. For manufacturers with fewer than 15 employees – and that’s XX% of all Minnesota manufacturers – the administrative burden of the new leave laws is enormous. Participants were able to convey that challenge to Sen. Putnam.
It’s always a good investment to reach out and build ties with elected leaders, and particularly important to connect with legislators who might not seem like natural supporters. Strengthening ties with a DFL leader like Sen. Putnam is especially valuable because he can share his understanding of issues and concerns with colleagues who may not have extensive experience with manufacturing.
We’re so thankful to Sen. Putnam for taking the time to visit Pinnacle and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Minnesota manufacturers, and we look forward to facilitating additional tours in the coming months.
Find upcoming manufacturing events and workshops on our Events page.
Leather Works Minnesota to leave Lowertown for vacant commercial building on West Side
January 19, Pioneer Press via Yahoo.com
Indicators giving Minnesota businesses reasons for reserved optimism
January 18, MinnPost
Minnesota-based CHS explores potential merger with ag co-op Growmark
January 18, Star Tribune
Inflation cuts into timber industry profits in northland
January 9, Duluth News Tribune