With three working corporations and 5 areas all through Minnesota and Iowa — together with Brainerd — ATEK is celebrating its seventy fifth anniversary in 2021.
That’s 75 years of expertise innovation, 75 years of high-quality merchandise and 75 years of neighborhood involvement.
“We’re fairly diversified when it comes to applied sciences that we use and the markets that we serve,” co-owner and CEO Mark Osmanski mentioned throughout a Skype interview Tuesday, Jan. 19. “Our merchandise do go around the globe, and we manufacture all of them within the higher Midwest.”
ATEK Corporations consists of ATEK Entry Applied sciences, ATEK Metallic Applied sciences and Photo voltaic Plastics.
The corporate grew from Acrometal, a steel stamping firm based in 1946 in Minneapolis. Whereas operating that enterprise, Fred Bieber bought the chance to purchase it out. At this time, Bieber’s son, Invoice Bieber, is among the three co-owners of the corporate, together with Osmanksi and Kay Phillips.
Invoice Bieber joined his dad within the steel stamping enterprise in 1965, and the 2 grew ATEK Corporations from there.
“Invoice was actually the entrepreneurial spirit that grew this firm,” Osmanski mentioned.
Patricia Hennes welds a wall change Wednesday, Jan. 20, at ATEK Entry Applied sciences in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
In 1977, operations moved to Brainerd, and the plant in northeast Brainerd continues to run as manufacturing headquarters for ATEK Entry Applied sciences.
“Inside this enterprise it constitutes the entire proprietary merchandise that we design, manufacture and promote to the tip customers. And we predominantly are into digital gadgets of a wide range of kinds,” Osmanski mentioned.
Merchandise made on the Brainerd location embody accessible wall switches that open doorways, together with ground mats that do the identical and common customized ground mats for a wide range of corporations. Throughout a tour of the ability Wednesday, Jan. 20, worker Steve Scofield confirmed off a few of his lately accomplished mats, like one with “Don’t enter” indicators, set to be shipped to O’Hare Worldwide Airport in Chicago.
The corporate’s presence within the lakes space dates again to 1969, when it acquired the corporate Larco.
“That model is fairly well-known within the presence-sensing,” Osmanski mentioned. “So these are pressure-sensitive mats that had been initially used to open doorways. And so we additionally supply a line of wall switches, very excessive finish push-to-open wall switches. However many of the functions for Larco at this time are in industrial mats. So these are safeguarding mats which can be utilized in industrial operations to guard a employee from robotics or unsafe areas. So it’s there to cease one thing from taking place, or it can permit one thing to occur, relying on the way you design the system.”
ATEK Entry Applied sciences Common Supervisor Mike Berning talks about merchandise within the northeast Brainerd manufacturing plan Wednesday, Jan. 20. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Larco is the oldest of the ATEK Entry Expertise manufacturers. In 2007, the enterprise acquired a brand new expertise referred to as TankScan, which remotely displays liquid ranges in fuel tanks.
“We promote that to a wide range of completely different industries, however most functions are within the oil, fuel and diesel space,” Osmanski mentioned. “So when you have distant tanks with fuel in them, you will put our gadget on it so it will routinely — by means of the web — present you what the extent is, and you may service the tank extra effectively.”
One other entry expertise piece is Datakey, a enterprise acquired in 2010, which makes a ruggedized reminiscence gadget similar to a USB gadget, however with out the common factor that the “u” stands for.
“It has a singular type issue, and it is also very rugged. You may drive the truck over our gadget and it’ll nonetheless work,” Osmanski mentioned. “So these are utilized in heavy industrial and in addition army functions. I might say 50% of our gross sales go to the army. And it is for authentication information logging firmware updates, these varieties of functions. And in order that constitutes ATEK Entry Applied sciences as of at this time, however we’re all the time popping out with new merchandise, new product traces and rising the enterprise.”
ATEK Metallic Applied sciences is a low-pressure everlasting mildew aluminum casting operation.
“So we soften aluminum, and with very low stress, we push the aluminum right into a mildew, pull it aside, open the mildew, take it out and do some post-processing to it after which promote it to main OEMs (authentic tools producers),” Osmanski mentioned.
Bike riders might have made use of this steel expertise, as ATEK offers cylinder heads for giant motorbike retailers.
ATEK Entry Applied sciences staff work on a wide range of merchandise on the northeast Brainerd plant. Submitted Photograph
ATEK’s most lately acquired firm is Photo voltaic Plastics, which has two shopper bases. The primary are main development, farming and mining tools corporations, which make use of ATEK’s rotational molding expertise for fluid tanks.
“It could comprise water, it could comprise hydraulic fluid, or possibly it’s diesel gas or possibly a kind of chemical,” Osmanski mentioned. “It simply will depend on the applying for the shopper.”
These tanks are additionally produced for steamrollers and hydraulic drilling machines.
Whereas the primary facet of Photo voltaic Plastics makes parts that find yourself as a bigger piece of a remaining product, the opposite facet produces standalone shopper merchandise, like coolers and aftermarket components for ATVs.
ATEK Corporations, celebrating 75 years of operations in 2021, homes three separate corporations — ATEK Entry Applied sciences, Photo voltaic Plastics and ATEK Metallic Applied sciences. Submitted graphic
At this time ATEK employs about 400 staff, with different areas in Delano; Davenport, Iowa; and New Hampton, Iowa, and company workplaces in Eden Prairie. Although the areas are concentrated within the higher Midwest, ATEK merchandise make their method throughout the globe.
Since 1946, ATEK has acquired 18 companies, bought 11 companies and based 14 corporations.
“We take nice pleasure in what we do, in order that’s vital to us,” Osmanski mentioned. “And what excites the possession group about ATEK Entry Applied sciences — except for the stable proprietary manufacturers that we have now at this time — is known as a development out there in an space referred to as IOT, or in our case it’s IIOT, which stands for Industrial Web of Issues.”
The TankScan expertise is one instance.
“We take a tool, we put it within the discipline in a distant location, and it communicates cellularly or by way of WiFi to an web portal that we host,” Osmanski mentioned.
Clients then get alerts on their telephones and computer systems, notifying them of the extent of service their tanks want.
Jonathan Larson, an worker at ATEK Entry Applied sciences in Brainerd, explains the interior workings of a 120-ton machine that produces plastic receptacles. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
ATEK is working to construct that expertise in different areas.
“Whereas it hasn’t achieved all the pieces we had hoped to by now, we nonetheless consider that there’s nice development, significantly even with this pandemic happening as a result of individuals at the moment are needing to do issues in a distant style the place they earlier than wouldn’t,” Osmanski mentioned.
Fortuitously, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect ATEK as a lot as others, although there was a gross sales disruption, particularly within the casting operation. Bike corporations noticed reductions in demand, Osmanski mentioned, which then affected ATEK.
“We did need to undergo some organizational realignment,” he mentioned, “however I’m happy to announce that by 2021, we’ll be as much as the place we had been pre-pandemic.”
Robin Sauer cuts lengths of rope Wednesday, Jan. 20, at ATEK Entry Applied sciences in Brainerd. The ropes will finally be used as handles on coolers. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Osmanski is pleased with the group ATEK has assembled and mentioned the corporate is in nice form.
A lot of that success has an important deal to do with the devoted staff who work for ATEK. Mike Berning, normal supervisor of the Brainerd facility, mentioned there are some staff there who’ve been with the corporate for greater than 40 years and several other who’re within the 15-30 yr vary.
Stephanie Maust has been with the corporate for about 28 years, working in varied aspects. Although she bought laid off throughout the massive financial crash round 2007-08, she finally made her method again to ATEK.
“They referred to as me again right here, and I didn’t even assume twice about it,” she mentioned.
Berning and the house owners attribute that longevity to an intensive screening course of and the constructive tradition ATEK strives to create in any respect of its areas.
“We need to be sure that (candidates) need to be on our group, that they’re going to slot in effectively with our group, with our tradition, and that they’re going to need to have a profession right here, not only a job,” Osmanski mentioned.
Berning described the tradition at ATEK as very family-oriented, with out of doors cookouts each couple weeks within the hotter months.
ATEK Entry Applied sciences Common Supervisor Mike Berning talks about his position on the manufacturing facility in northeast Brainerd Wednesday, Jan. 20. ATEK Corporations celebrates is seventy fifth anniversary in 2021. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
“Within the seven months I’ve been right here, I’ve loved listening to the historical past of ATEK and Acrometals and the those that have labored right here through the years,” Berning mentioned.
Neighborhood involvement is a crucial a part of that tradition as effectively. In Brainerd, meaning donating to and dealing with teams just like the Salvation Military, meals shelf, Toys for Tots, Northland Arboretum, Chamber of Commerce and Kinship Companions.
“At each location we do have interaction with the area people as a result of we’re part of their neighborhood,” Osmanski mentioned. “We’ve got a accountability to be a superb companion with them.”