Ground broken on large expansion at Trussbilt

PHOTO BY ROXY STIENBLOCK/PLAINSMAN Participating in Thursday morning’s ground-breaking for Trussbilt’s 101,000 square-foot expansion were Huron Chamber and Vistors Bureau Ambassadors Jessica Hotchkiss, Laura Cross and Angie Uttecht, Trussbilt Chief Operating Officer Mark Harvey; and Ambassadors Nikki Bankston, Dustin Mattke, Mark Simonds, Jared Reno and Drew Weinreis.

HURON — Trussbilt, a manufacturing leader in the security and detention infrastructure industry, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning, for its 101,000 square-foot expansion to the Huron facility.

According to Mark Harvey, the company;s Chief Operating Officer, “Trussbilt has never undergone an investment or expansion of this size or magnitude in the company’s 94-year history. This expansion is essentially doubling our existing manufacturing space.”

Harvey took a few minutes from making preparations to share the push for the new space at this time.

“We’ve actually been kicking this around for several years,” Harvey said via telephone earlier in the week.

“We are hearing from more and more of our customers about the rising costs of field labor and now seemed like the time to make the move.”

The new product that Trussbilt will begin to manufacture in the Huron plant is a modular cell. The cell, which will be available in different dimensions and with a list of available options, will be produced using mostly parts generated in house, according to Harvey.

Cells will be built as stand-alone units. They will include things such as bunks, stool and sink, mirror, desks, shelves and seating. Showers may be incorporated into individual cells, if the purchaser chooses to do so.

“I would say about 90% will be done in-house,” he said. “We contract for the stool and sink combination and the showers, as well as the security mirror.”

The benefit to the end user is the simplicity of installation. “All they need is a crane operator to lift it into place and some tradespeople to hook up the utilities and it is ready to use,” he said. He said the modular cells are stackable, to two stories.

Trussbilt has produced its patented TrussWall detention walls for many years, and the walls were a game changer in the industry. But the process of constructing a detention center required a great deal of labor in the field, increasing costs for the purchaser.

“It takes the labor from the site and moves it to our facility,” Harvey said. “The modular cell is set in place and the trades hook it up.”

Work started a short time ago on renovating some of the existing interior into office space. The 101,000 square foot expansion will house the assembly area for the new steel modular cells.

Harvey said that he expects that the plant will add 10 to 12 additional employees to its nearly 100-person work force in the near future. “We will look to fill a wide range of needs,” he said, “and get those new people familiar with our products, so when the production begins on the modular cells, they will be ready to step in a start work.” He added that down the line it is possible for another five to 10 employees will be added.

Included in an a portion of the groundbreaking were four employees - Korwin Glanzer, Bill Reno, Chad Skallus and Laverne Wagner - who have been with Trussbilt since it opened in Huron.

Harvey said that there is not a planned change in the company’s work schedule at this time.
Trussbilt was founded in 1926, as Gross Metal Products by Arthur Gross in St. Paul, Minnesota. Four years later, the company became Trussbilt Steel Doors, Inc. In December 1989, the company relocated to Huron, and by February 1, 1990, the first shipment of South Dakota-made products left the facility, providing a very proud milestone to the history of the company.

Trussbilt’s certified detention equipment products are found in justice centers, courthouses, jails, prisons, and detention centers around the world.