It’s true that Daktronics is headquartered in Brookings, South Dakota. But how did the Redwood Falls, Minnesota, location come to be? Tom Quackenbush, plant manager of the location, shared the story of how the facility found a home in Daktronics.
Q: When did Daktronics acquire the Redwood Falls facility, and how did it happen?
A: The previous company ceased operations in 2006. It was a power supply manufacturing company. The timing was great; Daktronics wanted to expand and the skillsets of the people fell into place. It’s been a fantastic relationship ever since. We began operations in January 2007.
Q: Why was the location selected, and what key strengths did it bring to the table?
A: Folks here have a long history of electronic manufacturing and light assembly for the power supply industry. The infrastructure fit well and the engineers, technicians, and assemblers were familiar with the work. It made for a nice fit for the expansion.
Q: What products are primarily manufactured at Redwood Falls?
A: We focus on Galaxy® GS6 displays, Galaxy product lines, as well as a heavy partnership with Live Events work. We do start to finish with metal fabrication, electronics assembly, and final assembly. We have the largest manufacturing floor of personnel in one space in all of Daktronics with 155,000 feet with two buildings. In 2014, the building was added on to with 30,000 square feet.
Q: How has the location changed over time?
A: We relayed out electronic assembly in February this year. In 2009, surface-mount technology was added. We’ve had numerous infrastructure upgrades with IT, power, and office remodeling. Through LEAN initiatives, we eliminated warehouse waste of having two other buildings, which brought us to a small, more efficient footprint.
Q: With such a large manufacturing area, how many employees work for Redwood Falls?
A: 175! We have 62 11-year employees (from the date of opening the doors as Daktronics.) The original building was built in 1967, and we just had someone retire who was here from the very start! The building went through six different companies in that time. We also have several employees who started in the ’70s. I’m proud of the careers that have lived through the number of changes we’ve seen. They are an inspiration for change management and great examples of how to lead those efforts.
Q: How far away from Brookings is Redwood Falls?
A: Roughly 100 miles. (Sioux Falls is about 50 miles from Brookings.)
Q: What are some major milestone projects? I’m assuming the Vikings top the list.
A: For sure. We’ve had University of Minnesota projects for several Gophers facilities, recently worked on the Minnesota United soccer project, worked on the Minnesota Timberwolves project and yes, the Vikings certainly were the biggest highlight. We have world-class manufacturing in the region, and the whole community feels a sense of pride. We had hundreds of school kids, their parents, teachers, and more come through the plant and sign the inside of cabinet doors now installed at the stadium. The semis even swung through the high school parking lot on their way out for well-wishers.
Q: What is something you’re proud of Redwood Falls for?
A: The way they support Daktronics and vice versa. We’re one of the largest employers here. We’ve had three generations of grandparents, parents, and children work for us, and it’s not uncommon. The values of Daktronics resonate with the community and fit well with the region. It’s a responsibility we hold in high regard.
Q: Anything you’d like to say about the 50th anniversary?
A: Our factory was built almost the same time Daktronics started, so we feel like we have a 50-year history here, too. Lots of folks feel like we’ve been with Daktronics much longer than the 11 years we have been. We don’t feel like a separate location; we’re one organization and look forward to the next 50 years.
Thank you for your partnership, Redwood Falls.
This article is by Betsy Mans
in Transportation Marketing.