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Zierke Manufacturing takes big step toward growth

By Staff | Jul 3, 2011

Kyle and Greg Zierke

After being awarded an International Standardization Organization (ISO) certification, doors have opened for Zierke Built Manufacturing, Inc., in Winnebago.

“Many large corporations require ISO certification before a manufacturer can produce for them,” vice president Kyle Zierke says. “Since being ISO certified, we have added four or five clients.”

ZBM held an official recognition ceremony for earning the IS0-2008-9001 certification on Monday. The designation acknowledges that the manufacturer meets a family of standards that relate to quality management systems. The standards are designed to help organizations ensure they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders.

State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, was on hand alongside officials from Enterprise Minnesota to congratulate ZBM on its certification.

Enterprise Minnesota is a consulting firm that worked exclusively with the manufacturer to gain ISO certification. Three specialists from Enterprise Minnesota would come on-site to Winnebago once every two weeks and work with a special committee from ZBM for three hours to reach the certification.

“We started from ground zero,” Kyle Zierke says. “It took us a year and three months to reach the final goal.”

One of the main obstacles of gaining the certification is writing a quality manual. In ZBM’s instance, the manual was 60 pages.

“The ISO standards are very general,” Enterprise Minnesota Business Growth Advisor Greg Thomas says. “We wrote the manual so that it would fit how ZBM does business and would also meet ISO standards.”

ZBM’s certification must be renewed every year to remain ISO certified. An independent auditor will come on site and inspect ZBM’s operation for a full day every year.

After three years, a full audit will be completed with a significant three day audit taking place.

Auditors will examine a manufacturing company specializing in fuel tanks, trailers and structural bases for power generation.

“If you can dream it we can build it,” vice president Zierke says. “We have a lot of business from our fuel tanks and trailers, but that’s not the only thing we do.” Zierke points out that the company has been busy making 3,000 lawn mower decks for landscape manufacturer Husqvarna.

ZBM has 33 employees working in two Winnebago locations.

“We are looking to expand so we can get everything under one roof,” President Greg Zierke says.

Zierke continues to say that the company is interested in hiring due to employees working overtime hours the past three months.

“Manufacturing is a good field to get into,” Greg Zierke says. “The problem is, it’s hard to find quality workers.”

The ZBM plants contain 5-ton cranes operating over the heads of 15 spark shooting welders which take a piece of steel and turn it into a finished product.

Employees can now do everything in-house thanks to the recent addition of a plasma cutter that can rip through steel.

The company has provided generator components for hospitals, schools and data storage buildings which can’t afford to lose power.

“The tough thing about our business, is that we benefit from natural disasters,” Greg Zierke says. “Whenever a disaster happens, we see an increase in our production.”

When the power goes out, the 5,000-gallon ZBM tanks holding diesel fuel for power generation systems kick into gear. With tanks that large, generators sitting on the company’s custom built trailers can provide essential power to a site for up to two weeks.

The company’s clients are all based in the United States, but their customers export ZBM products all over the world.

For now, the manufacturing plant plans on continuing to do business strictly in the United States, but hopes that continued improvements such as gaining an ISO certification will grow the 30-year-old business.

Since 2008, ZBM has gone from working with three clients to 50.

“Our growth doesn’t end today,” Kyle Zierke proclaims in his ISO certification acceptance speech. “We still want to gather more clients and customers.”