Contract-manufacturing adds jobs, revenues at Harsh plant

EATON — What started out four years ago as a few metal-cutting jobs to accommodate requests from other businesses is now a full-fledged, million-dollar-a-year-and-growing contract-manufacturing division at Harsh International Inc.
That means that contract manufacturing makes up 5 percent of Harsh˜s $20 million a year in total sales, said Bob Brown, president.
That kind of growth has affected the 50-year-old company in a number of positive ways.
One of the most visible is the company˜s new 27,000-square-foot addition at Harsh facilities southeast of the principal location on U.S. Highway 85.
"We now have our main assembly plant at [the southeast] location," Brown said.
About 10 to 12 new employees have been hired, and Brown said that when the new facilities are in full operation, another 10 workers could be added.
Three additional cutters were purchased recently. Two laser cutters handle "aerospace-like materials," Brown said, and a water-jet cutter slices any material up to nine inches thick.
Very importantly, Brown said, Harsh has expanded its capabilities to reach "a level of sophistication" that might never have happened had the company not gotten into contract cutting.
The scene was set for the company to enter the field of contract manufacturing about five years ago, when it purchased its first laser machine that eliminated the heat usually generated in the cutting process. That allowed material to be cut faster, more accurately and without warpage.
The result was a higher-quality part "that made a vast improvement in our product line," Brown said. Harsh manufactures agricultural hoists, mixers and spreaders.
Because laser cutters are rare in this part of the country — Brown said there are only a few in Denver, and the rest are "here in our buildings" — Harsh started getting a few requests from other companies in the area to cut their materials.
More orders followed, and soon the company˜s contract-manufacturing division was under way.
Most of the contract work is cutting and shipping the cut material to the manufacturer as opposed to manufacturing the entire product, Brown said.
"We˜re not doing a whole lot of [product manufacturing] because it stretches our capacity and there˜s a lot of demand for our hoists, mixers and spreaders," he said.
Recently, the company began accepting customers˜ specifications via e-mail and on disks. Special software translates the data into "laser language" so that the parts are cut with "virtually no human interface," Brown said.

Agland/Farmland opens mill
EATON — The Agland/Farmland joint venture to combine both co-ops˜ feed-mill operations began cranking out feed products last month at the new mill, constructed at Agland˜s local facilities.
Bob Mekelburg, Agland˜s general manager, said the new mill is expected to produce about 125,000 tons of feed per year.
The two giant agricultural co-ops consolidated their local feed-manufacturing businesses strictly to "lower manufacturing costs," Mekelburg said, but he declined to speculate on how much manufacturing costs are expected to drop and whether any drop would be reflected in consumer prices.
The venture consolidates only each co-op˜s manufacturing business, not marketing enterprises, Mekelburg stressed. Agland will continue to market its feed products principally to its co-op members and retail stores, and Farmland will continue to concentrate on the cooperative market, he said.
Before the joint venture, Agland operated a feed mill at its Eaton site, and Farmland ran a similar facility four miles north in Ault. The consolidation formed a new company, Agland-Farmland Feed LLC, and closed the Ault mill.
Agland is a local farm-supply co-op with 3,500 members, primarily in Weld County. Farmland Industries is a regional agricultural manufacturing and marketing cooperative headquartered in Kansas City, Mo.

Just Baked joins Agland
GREELEY — Now you can fill your car with gas while you fill your tummy with a fresh bagel.
Just Baked, a local bagel bakery and coffee shop, recently formed a partnership with Agland Inc. and opened small eateries inside Agland˜s two convenience stores here, one at 16th Street and U.S. Highway 85 and a second at 2449 35th Ave.
"This expansion will give us some real good exposure in four different markets in Greeley. We think we can enhance [Agland˜s] business as well as they can enhance ours," said Tracy Smith, who, along with his wife, Linda, owns Just Baked.
The new restaurants, which represent a total investment of about $80,000 are leasing 1,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet at each location, Smith said, and will require hiring about 15 new employees.
"We˜ serve what we serve in our downtown store," Smith said. That includes bagels, pastries, deli sandwiches, coffees and espressos.
Just Baked opened four years ago in downtown Greeley, across from the Weld County courthouse. The company˜s first expansion was 21/2 years ago, with an eatery located in a Total convenience store on West 10th Street, Smith said.
EATON — The Agland/Farmland joint venture to combine both co-ops˜ feed-mill operations began cranking out feed products last month at the new mill, constructed at Agland˜s local facilities.
Bob Mekelburg, Agland˜s general manager, said the new mill is expected to produce about 125,000 tons of feed per year.
The two giant agricultural co-ops consolidated their local feed-manufacturing businesses strictly to "lower manufacturing costs," Mekelburg said, but he declined to speculate on how much manufacturing costs are expected to drop and whether any drop would be reflected in consumer prices.
The venture consolidates only each co-op˜s manufacturing business, not marketing enterprises, Mekelburg stressed. Agland will continue to market its feed products principally to its co-op members and retail stores, and Farmland will continue to concentrate on the cooperative market, he said.
Before the joint venture, Agland operated a feed mill at its Eaton site, and Farmland ran a similar facility four miles north in Ault. The consolidation formed a new company, Agland-Farmland Feed LLC, and closed the Ault mill.
Agland is a local farm-supply co-op with 3,500 members, primarily in Weld County. Farmland Industries is a regional agricultural manufacturing and marketing cooperative headquartered in Kansas City, Mo.Just Baked joins Agland
GREELEY — Now you can fill your car with gas while you fill your tummy with a fresh bagel.
Just Baked, a local bagel bakery and coffee shop, recently formed a partnership with Agland Inc. and opened small eateries inside Agland˜s two convenience stores here, one at 16th Street and U.S. Highway 85 and a second at 2449 35th Ave.
"This expansion will give us some real good exposure in four different markets in Greeley. We think we can enhance [Agland˜s] business as well as they can enhance ours," said Tracy Smith, who, along with his wife, Linda, owns Just Baked.
The new restaurants, which represent a total investment of about $80,000 are leasing 1,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet at each location, Smith said, and will require hiring about 15 new employees.
"We˜ serve what we serve in our downtown store," Smith said. That includes bagels, pastries, deli sandwiches, coffees and espressos.
Just Baked opened four years ago in downtown Greeley, across from the Weld County courthouse. The company˜s first expansion was 21/2 years ago, with an eatery located in a Total convenience store on West 10th Street, Smith said.