Separate companies share same manufacturing space
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Nick and Julie Newman established Ridgeline Manufacturing in 2008, with cousins Jerry and Sue Newman, moving into an existing building in Pillager. It was a challenging time to start a business, but it has steadily grown.
“We have literally doubled our business every year,” said Julie.
Nick and Julie bought out Jerry and Sue in 2010. Before long, they were bursting at the seams of the Pillager facility. When that was considered along with other needs, it nudged them to look into moving to Royalton.
“The size of our products would not allow us to run more than one product line at a time,” Nick said. “We could not get financing to expand. We also needed a powder-coater for our commercial decks and railing.”
Nick and Julie had been networking with Nick’s brother, Joel, owner of Newmans Industries in Royalton, on deck projects. When Joel put in a powder-coater, “it brought us together, talking about other things,” Nick said.
“Our weakness was not enough space,” said Julie. “His (Joel’s) weakness was that he had too large of a plant. At the end of the day, we’re all family.”
Newmans Industries was established in 1967 in Detroit Lakes by Doug and Margaret “Muggs” Newman, Joel and Nick’s parents. The business relocated to Royalton in 1990.
“We’d been looking near Fargo, but after meeting with the City Council and bank officers, we left saying, ‘That’s where we’re going to end up being,’” said Joel.
The Royalton location is strategic, south of the Highway 10/Highway 371 split, with the visibility of being right off Highway 10.
Joel took the helm in 2009, and the family held a dedication of the business.
“Our minister came and blessed the building and the business,” Julie said.
With Newmans Industries’ facility now housing both of the businesses, all the Newmans see the advantages.
“There’s a good synergy,” Joel said. “We’re competitors on some things, but both benefit from it as a whole. We thought we’d get some resistance from dealers, but it’s been a positive move.”
“It’s like with Crestliner and Lund,” Nick said. “We use the same facility for different products.”
Newmans products include steel utility and car hauler trailers, aluminun docks, boat lifts and trailers which include the SledBed for snowmobiles.
Ridgeline products include aluminum fish houses, skid houses, trailers, docks, custom awnings, decks and balconies.
Although Ridgeline and Newmans have not escaped the effects of the economic downturn, they have continued to do well.
“We’re still not at the level where we were in 2006,” said Joel. “But we expand product lines and develop different ways of selling, offering more complementary products to broaden the product mix.”
“We fell into a few different product lines that have saved Ridgeline,” Nick said. “Our fish houses are so light that they reach a different market. The introductory model is only 350 pounds, with the heaviest, a 12-foot wheeled model, at 1,200 pounds.”
It’s the contracts which have provided year-round stability for Ridgeline. Their biggest contract is with Lloyd Companies in South Dakota. They have a contract with Lyon Contracting of St. Cloud.
“Through them, we did the decks at Highland Senior Living in Little Falls,” said Julie.
“We try to network within the state, Nick said.
“We’re capitalizing on what we have here in Royalton,” Joel said. “The people and the economy have always been supportive.”
“I look at Newmans and Ridgeline as anchors for Royalton,” said Mayor Andrea Lauer. “We’re very lucky to have these two manufacturing businesses in Royalton.”
The Newmans agree that the move has benefitted both Ridgeline and Newmans in many ways. Although they operate separate businesses, they come together for monthly meetings, opening with a prayer that was used at the dedication in 2009.
Visitors to the facility are met with a large cross above the front entrance declaring that the businesses operate “under God’s watch.”
“That’s what we believe,” Joel said. “People see it and actually feel more comfortable.”