This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
When you ask a small- to mid-sized manufacturer to describe its company culture, expect to hear the word “family” mentioned somewhere in the response. At the same time, the successful manufacturer is always looking for new ways to improve its reputation, increase its sales and become more competitive. Can a company maintain its family feel even while growing a global footprint? Does achieving one limit the success of the other? Loadmaster is a manufacturer of refuse collection vehicles in Norway fully intent on achieving both.
“We’re a growing company with a vision for the future, but it won’t come at the expense of who we are today,” says Andrew Brisson, vice president of Loadmaster. “It’s not cliché to call ourselves a family, because that is who we are and that’s what we’ve always been. I think it’s possible to grow a business without losing what made the brand special. I think we prove that every day.”
For Brisson and the Loadmaster team, merging the traits of a large, increasingly global company with a family-focused attitude comes down to three key traits: knowing your team, knowing your product and knowing your customer.
“My family have been manufacturers for generations,” Brisson explains. “The industry is part of who we are — I love what I do — and we’re definitely working to surround ourselves with talented men and women who love what they do too.”
The Loadmaster team, like most manufacturers, takes incredible pride in their work. Featuring a skilled workforce and a wholly American-made product, the manufacturer has begun diversifying its product line over the years — requiring a new set of talented workers to be hired.
“We’ve gone from a strict focus on rear-loader vehicles to including the side-loader option and now we are expanding the engineering team to pursue opportunities with a front-loader product line,” states Brisson. “Each step forward grows our footprint and with each bit of momentum, we see new success.” Each product is made by skilled craftsman and the results are eye-opening. The Loadmaster product includes the largest hopper in the industry — ideal for reducing blade cycling time — and an overall quality and reliability that extends the life of the vehicle long past their competition. The company still faces challenges — Michigan’s long-term struggle for talent, expanding into new markets like the Northwest United States — but one thing Loadmaster is confident in is that no matter how big they get, that family-first feel will remain.
“Nothing comes easy — you can’t expect to succeed without putting in the effort,” says Brisson. “We’ve had success and we hope to have more, but none of that would be possible without everyone here believing it was possible and working each day to make it happen. This is why the more we grow, the more Loadmaster becomes a family — because we have each had a hand in getting us to where we are.”