People are talking about a manufacturing business coming to the Braham Industrial Park.
Diversified Bronze & Manufacturing, of Cambridge, has bought Lot #7 with plans to build a new facility in spring 2017.
“It’s kind of a little bit of a buzz going on,” said owner Loren Davis. “We’re hearing, ‘Hey, somebody new is coming to Braham.’”
The company, founded by Davis in 2007, machines standard and specialty parts out of bronze, steel, aluminum, brass, powdered metal and plastic. Their in-house machining and fabricating capabilities include turning, boring, broaching, facing, milling, grinding and de-burring.
A change in a business partnership earlier this year led Davis to rethink his current building arrangement.
“I had started a machine shop five years ago with a partner, Vision Machine,” he said. Diversified Bronze and Vision Machine have shared the same building at 725 3rd Avenue SE, Cambridge, since that time.
“They came to me in January of this year to see if I wanted to sell out my shares. I did.” The sale was completed in March, and Diversified Bronze has been a renter of their portion of the building since then.
Once the relationship changed from a partnership to a vendor/customer relationship, Davis realized he didn’t need to stay in the building.
“Why keep paying rent?” Davis said. “What we are paying I could put toward a new building of our own.”
A bigger and better building
The company looked at other possible locations to build, but settled on the lot in Braham’s industrial park. “We looked at Cambridge,” Davis said, “but tax-wise and with the cost of land it made much more sense for us to go to Braham.”
He also had the company’s seven employees in mind when making the decision. “I wanted to stay somewhat close so we can keep our employees,” Davis said. “It’s not a big burden for them to go to Braham.”
Planning started months ago, but a final design for the building is still in the works. Davis said a recent redesign of the roof and trusses will save the company $40,000 over the initial design, so he’s not upset about a few delays.
“We’re going to start as soon as Mother Nature lets us start in the spring,” he said. “I’m hoping end of March.” He expects the construction to be finished by July.
All current manufacturing operations will move north to the new building, and Davis is not ruling out an expansion of production and employees.
“We’ve got some plans for a couple things in the works that I can’t talk about yet,” Davis said. “But they could bring an additional three or four jobs to Braham shortly after we’re there.”
He said the industrial park lot size allows a building up to 11,000 square feet – not quite the size he’s proposing at first – but the building is being built with the capability to expand in the future, depending on an increase in the company’s warehousing and manufacturing operations.
“The building we’re putting up will be built so we can expand to the full capacity of what the lot will handle,” Davis said.
Bringing more to the community
Not only will the relocation bring a boost to Braham’s tax base, but Davis plans to bring more to the community.
“Obviously, when you bring jobs to a smaller community,” he noted, “that money stays there for lunches, dinners, the hardware store, gas. The more people you have working in a town the more the flow-down economics is going to help the town, more so than just being on the tax roll.”
Davis also hopes other companies will follow the lead of Diversified Bronze and take a chance on the industrial park.
“I’ve told Sally (Hoy, city administrator) up there, ‘I’ll be your biggest advocate to get three more people in here to fill the first phase up, and then you can develop the second phase behind us.’ I’ve already met with two companies to see if we could get them to come up that way – one from Braham and another from Forest Lake.”
Not only will the business make a positive impact on the community, but Loren and his wife Peggy plan to get their hands dirty too. They have a history of volunteering with organizations like the Grandy Lions Club and other nonprofits, and hope to continue that in their new location.
“Wherever we’ve been in our lives,” Davis said, “we’ve always gotten involved in the community. ... We will get involved in local events and the school. We’re looking for more of that – physically and financially.”
The move won’t be without some sadness, though, according to Davis.
“I’ve said Cambridge has been very good to our family,” he shared. “Owning (Cambridge Bar and Grill) for 16 years and Peggy working there for 26 years total. We’ve been involved in the community, but it’s time to move on. The next chapter of our lives will be up in Braham. ... It’s a win-win.”