Mishawaka Company Adapts to Tough Economy, Recognized by Local Chamber for Economic Impact

For nearly 50 years, Laidig (of Mishawaka) has been providing customers with custom-engineered bulk storage and reclaim system technology. Senior VP Tom J. Lindenman explains the company’s diversified customer base has changed with the times, catering to the different storage needs of the day (ranging from soybeans for farmers to paper sludge for recycling companies to cement).

Lindenman notes that the company has had to make cuts like most other businesses during the current recession, but is also willing to evolve to remain profitable.

"We felt well-positioned to withstand an economic downturn," he says. "But none of us anticipated something of this magnitude. It’s like a 100-year rain.

"If you’re going to grow as a manufacturer today, you have to be willing to do what others won’t," Lindenman adds. "We’re now looking at jobs we wouldn’t have before that include a great deal of paperwork. We’re also looking at handling materials we wouldn’t have 10 years ago … And we’d never been much of a fabrication contractor before, but now with our new expanded capabilities we’re aggressively selling fabrication, blast cleaning and powder coating services particularly for very large (80’ long, 30,000 lbs.) parts."

Due to the company’s collective attitude and market diversity, Lindenman believes the future remains bright at Laidig.

"The reason we’ve been here 50 years is that we stand behind everything we do," Lindenman concludes. "We always stick with the customer until they’re satisfied, and many have indicated to us that not all companies will do that. We’ll continue to have a positive attitude, and will continue to survive and grow."

Furthermore, when asked what Indiana’s legislature could do to help businesses like Laidig, Lindenman stresses that "less intervention" would be the greatest help.

Also noteworthy: To honor the company’s economic contribution to the region, Laidig was recently presented with the Economic Impact Award by the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. A news release explains:

Today Laidig Systems is recognized as an industry leader, installing thousands of bulk storage and reclaim systems worldwide. They provide automated silo storage and unloading systems for wood chips, pellets, grains, grain meals, cement, powders, cellulosic feedstock, recycled products and a variety of other bulk materials.

When it came time to look at expanding the company, (founder Jon) Laidig had plenty of people pulling him in other areas of the country and even the world. With 30 percent of his business done overseas and in Asia, many felt it was time to branch out. Strong ties to Indiana, along with support from local and state government, however, made investing in St. Joseph County an easy decision.

Despite the difficult economic times, last year Laidig made a major multimillion-dollar investment to expand their facilities, adding nearly 10,000 square feet of office space and over 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Included in that expansion, the company also added 45 machinists, welders and professional staff to its 90-person work force – a 50 percent increase.

The expansion includes one of the largest powder-coat paint facilities in the country, capable of powder coating components up to 80 feet long and weighing as much as 15 tons. Nearly all of the equipment for this expansion was purchased from local companies and manufactured within St. Joseph County.

0 thoughts on “Mishawaka Company Adapts to Tough Economy, Recognized by Local Chamber for Economic Impact

  1. This company used leverage to get a tax abatement from the city of Mishawaka in 2008, promising “45 new jobs”. The local news media swooned over Laidig. Then, in February 2009, Laidig permanently cut 35 jobs and made the remaining employees take a 25% pay cut. Mysteriously, the swooning news media was nowhere to be found for this story. Even Congressman Joe Donnelly, who made a cameo appearance at Laidig when the promises were made for the tax abatement, conveniently did not show up to comfort the newly unemployed masses. Question: When does Laidig pay back the tax abatement for not coming through on their promise to Mishawaka? “Economic Impact Award”? St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce must have been desperate.