Winnebago may be losing one of its largest employers soon to a nearby city.
Zierke Built Mfg., Inc., is looking to set up operations in Fairmont, after searching for sites in area cities like Albert Lea and Mankato.
“We’ve been growing like crazy and my problem is we can’t find any help,” says Greg Zierke, owner and president of the company.
Talks about Zierke Built leaving Winnebago have been briefly discussed at recent Economic Development Authority (EDA) and City Council meetings.
And on Monday, the Fairmont EDA voted to ask its City Council to approve the company’s relocation to the city at their next meeting.
According to Zierke, about 70 percent of the company’s workforce already commutes from Fairmont.
“We need more room and my biggest headache is finding employees,” says Zierke. “That’s the number one factor affecting any expansion.”
Zierke says the city of Winnebago and Faribault County have been good and supportive, however, “the company has to go where the people are.”
The Fairmont School District offers a welding course to its students, he says, and that also will make it easier to find workers.
Currently, Zierke Built employs 40 people and operates in two buildings covering some 70,000 square feet.
Zierke says the move has been in the works for the past several weeks, but he started considering the idea two years ago.
Ideally, Zierke would like to have all operations in one building and that would require a facility of at least 100,000 square feet.
“Being under one roof would be more efficient,” he says. “Right now using two buildings is cutting into our profit. We’re losing 10 to 15 percent.”
A business website that profiles companies says Zierke Built has annual revenue of at least nearly $3 million and it could be as high as $5 million.