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Bedford Industries, Midwest Fire nominated for statewide business awards

Pictured is the entrance to Bedford Industries in Worthington. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)1 / 2
Pictured is Midwest Fire in Luverne. (Special to The Globe)2 / 2

REGIONAL — Two area businesses have been nominated for statewide manufacturing awards.

Worthington’s Bedford Industries and Luverne’s Midwest Fire are finalists for the 2018 Made in Minnesota Manufacturing Awards, given out yearly by Minnesota Business Magazine.

“We really don’t go out seeking awards, so we were pretty surprised when we heard about this,” said Jay Milbrandt, Bedford Industries assistant general manager. “There are a lot of prestigious Minnesota companies that have won in the past, so to see ourselves among those names is an honor.”

The Worthington plastic fabrication company, which manufactures a variety of twist ties and bendable components that are used in everyday products, employs more than 350 people. It has grown its workforce by 75 since expanding its production facilities in December 2013.

A finalist in the large manufacturer category, Bedford Industries is going up against Roseau snowmobile manufacturer Polaris Industries and Elk River powersports manufacturer Sportech. “We certainly don’t expect to win against this competition, but we’re honored to be part of it and we’ll see where it takes us,” Milbrandt said.

The company is currently expanding again with a 110,000-square-foot addition that will bring Bedford’s total size to 400,000 square feet by early 2019.

“Hopefully this nomination will be a good thing for Worthington and southwest Minnesota to get some recognition,” Milbrandt said. “There are growing businesses down here that the Minneapolis area doesn’t get to see very often.”

Midwest Fire is a finalist in the small manufacturer category. Founded in 1987, the Luverne manufacturer custom-builds fire trucks for communities around the U.S. and in Canada. In the last 30 years, the company has delivered nearly 900 fire trucks, including more than 30 trucks to southwest Minnesota.

“We have a very hardworking and dedicated team, so any time we get nominated or are a finalist for anything like this, is very important to us and we’re very proud of it,” said Sarah Atchison, Midwest Fire CEO and President. “To be included in a statewide award is a pretty big deal to us.”

Midwest Fire’s 24-person team builds large tankers and pumper trucks, along with smaller brush truck and quick-attack variants based on a Ford pickup truck chassis. Building new trucks for customers is the main source of income for the business, but Midwest Fire also performs maintenance for area fire departments.

“We send a repair person to do service and repair in the immediate area — we try to stay in the 300-mile radius,” Atchison said.

In the small manufacturer category, Midwest Fire is going up against Hutchinson plastics manufacturer Pride Solutions and Tanis Aircraft Products out of Blaine.

The winner of each award will be announced at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the historic Machine Shop in Minneapolis. As finalists, the two companies will be highlighted in the September/October issue of Minnesota Business.