Grand Forks plant helps keep troops road-ready
This article is submitted by the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. For more information about the EDC, visit www.grandforks.org. When soldiers head out on over-the-road missions around the globe, one Grand Forks manufacturer is along ...
This article is submitted by the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. For more information about the EDC, visit www.grandforks.org .
When soldiers head out on over-the-road missions around the globe, one Grand Forks manufacturer is along for the ride.
American Defense Industries and its owner, Tim Pribula, grew from the seeds of agricultural equipment manufacturing.
From agricultural equipment to components, accessories and conversion kits for military vehicles, Pribula has built ADI into a reputable defense contractor.
"We manufacture replacement parts that are required to keep our forces fighting," he said.
Parts include items as small as a brace, to something as large as an entire dump body for a truck.
At any time, Pribula says, ADI employees are working on up to 50 different contracts and they ship an average of two semi-loads of completed contracts weekly. In an average year they complete approximately 350 individual contracts for the U.S. Department of Defense.
ADI completes nearly 100 percent of the product manufacturing in-house for the parts it makes. Comprising his team are skilled workers including engineers, welders, painters, and machinists.
Pribula said the defense department inspects his work and plant regularly. Because of the large volume of contracts ADI manages, it's not uncommon to have a regional inspector on-site every week.
ADI, he says, is approved to an ISO 9001:2000 inspection system [the universal quality management system standard], due in large part to their commitment to adhere to the defense department's strict standards.
Pribula is one of the inventors of an armor plating kit for vehicles that protects soldiers from roadside bombs. The kit, which is also manufactured in the Grand Forks plant, is directly responsible for saving countless soldiers' lives.
"Within weeks of it going in the field I got emails from soldiers who were alive because of it," he said of the armor plating. "Certainly when someone's life is saved by the armor plating, that's great."
ADI's factory is a streamlined operation with painting bays, robotic welders, and two lasers that cut every piece of metal used to complete projects. "Every job goes through the laser," Pribula said. And as he's able to add more equipment to his factory, he's been able to add employees or additional shifts.
State and local economic development programs and good relationships with his banker and the Grand Forks Region EDC, he said, have been critical to ADI's growth since it opened in 2004. State loan programs have provided the assistance he's needed to purchase equipment, which resulted in his ability to create new jobs and expand his plant.
Whether due to normal wear and tear or damage sustained in combat, Pribula says there's a steady demand for his company's services. "They (Department of Defense) are buying so much I could bid every day."
As a registered contractor with DOD, Pribula has access to available contracts and associated schematics in order to place bids. He occasionally receives calls directly from military units requesting a part.
He's not concerned that anticipated military spending cuts, which have been highly publicized in recent months, will have a dramatic effect on his company. The niche he fills is needed in both war and peace times. "I'm a tiny sliver of that expense (for maintenance and repair parts)."
The greater impact, he says, is economic recession. When the auto industry was struggling a few years ago, Pribula said competition for bids increased as auto parts manufacturing companies began bidding on more defense contracts.
But even then, he said ADI has remained competitive. Its competitors tend to be located primarily on coasts. As a result, Pribula feels ADI's central location and quality of employees he has in Grand Forks can be an advantage in the bidding process.
Cooper, Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation's (EDC) marketing and communications associate, profiles an EDC business member or client company monthly. The EDC provides access to resources to help primary sector business expand or develop in the Grand Forks region. Learn more at www.grandforks.org