Posted at: 10/30/2013 6:42 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2013 9:22 AM
By: Jenna Lohse
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- We continue our commitment to feature Midwest manufacturers by introducing you to Harmony Enterprises. A simple name for a local company that's come up with a global solution to recycling. But after 50 years, it still has the values of a hometown business.
“When the business started, it was actually a group of people from Harmony that banded together and put in money to start the company,” said Steve Cremer, owner of Harmony Enterprises.
A company that once manufactured a small walking cane that turns into a chair, now operates through a worldwide market.
"Back in the about 1970's we were asked to make something to help people reduce the volume of cardboard in the grocery stores,” said Cremer.
Steve Cremer is the 3rd generation owner of Harmony Enterprises, a now multi-million dollar company that creates equipment sold to brands like Sears, McDonalds and Supervalu.
"It's a worldwide market for us because everyone has the same problem as we do here in the United States,” said Cremer.
That problem being, what to do with all the recyclables? For large scale companies, that's not always an easy question to answer, but Harmony Enterprises manufactures one solution called a Vertical Baler.
"They're very easy to use, take the cardboard boxes, put them in to the machine and this one's semi-automatic, so it will automatically shut the door, push the button, it cycles down,” said Cremer. A ram then comes down and compresses the cardboard, making it economical to transport to the recycler.
But to manufacture more than 40 models of balers and compactors for general waste, "Everyone has their place here and we all kind of help each other out,” said Chris Johnson, employee at Harmony Enterprises.
Each machine goes through several steps of the manufacturing process - all in one building. Starting with fabrication, welding, electrical installation, and once the baler is put together, they even paint it before it goes out the door.
Another one of their projects is a garbage can, called a Smart Pack. It has a sensor so it automatically opens, you can throw the garbage in and then a ram comes down and compacts the garbage. The Smart Packs are wirelessly connected, so when the garbage gets full it will text the maintenance workers letting them know it’s ready to get picked up.
"We have sales into about 75 different countries,” said Cremer.
Which is why there are now two locations for Harmony Enterprises. One in Harmony Minnesota, and the other, "In the south of France, in Toulouse. So we have European operations now handling sales and engineering out of our office in France,” said Cremer.
But as Harmony Enterprises has evolved, even with an office in France, the company still values the reason it began in the first place. The importance of providing jobs to those locally.
"I’ve been here for a little over 15 years,” said Johnson. “We've got good people to work with here, that's what kept me here the longest and I got a long way to go, so I hope it stays the same,” he said.
"Many of our customers that I meet around the world they say I’ve been to New York, Disney World or maybe Los Angeles and I say come see us, you'll see what the real U.S. is like,” said Cremer.
Harmony Enterprises’ owner, Steve Cremer, tells us his son has now started working with the company, which makes him the soon to be 4th generation owner.