BEATRICE – A local employer in Beatrice has been seeing substantial growth, acquiring companies….and seeking to consolidate operations at a single location in the Gage County Industrial Park.

Randy Kinney, co-owner of Kinney Manufacturing, operates Precise Fabrication…..which he bought from Leroy Janzen in 2018. He also has operations in Lincoln. Kinney spoke with city officials during a Gage Area Growth Enterprise quarterly report, on Monday night.  The company purchased J-and-J Wood and Wire….and Blazin’ Grillworks operated by Setzer Manufacturing. Kinney purchased another grill product line from a company in Texas. Then, it acquired Industrial Maid based in Cortland, this past year.

"We went ahead and did that in January of 2023 and we moved that down into the J-and-J Wire building. That J-and-J Wire building two years ago had about seven people in it. And right now, we have about 40 people in there and are running two shifts in that property, also."

In recent years, Kinney manufacturing purchased additional property and is using tax increment financing to expand at the Precise Fabrication facility, by 82,000 square feet.

"It's going to be a nice addition to that building which will give us about 120,000 square feet on that space. And, with the additional land we have, we've actually got the design built out that we can put another 80,000 square feet on that property when additional expansion is required."

Kinney says plans are to move everything out of the J-and-J Building and the former Setzer Manufacturing building…and consolidate into the new facility.
"We've got about a year before we're moved into the new property...and hopefully we'll have some additional projects or growth that we may end up staying in some of those other properties....or if we find some other company or business that would like to lease or buy those properties, we're open to that, also."

One thing facing companies is a workforce shortage…something for which Kinney says companies have to keep at. "With the amount of growth we've had over the past twelve years, finding new people and talented people has been something that we constantly have to work on. During Covid, we worked very hard on that, because finding folks during that time was even more challenging. We've got a pretty good pipeline, and what's interesting...between the businesses primarily out in the industrial park, we all have enough difference between us, that it allows employees to pick which company that they sort of prefer the culture, of. It's been about the last eighteen months that I can say we've been fully staffed. We're always looking for stronger talent than what we may have, today."

Local economic development officials and the public school system have been working with business and industry on making connections between the companies and high school students, who are beginning to look at career paths.

One part of that is a job fair set for this Friday, at Beatrice High School…where over 30 employers are participating.