For one South Dakota manufacturer, doing business in South Dakota means access to a talented workforce, and of course, earning a profit.
“I love my state,” said Carl Carlson, owner of Cemcast. “We are absolutely committed to South Dakota. We’re in it for the long haul.
Carlson has been in the concrete business for more than 20 years, and he entered the pre-cast industry in 2012. His company’s primary focus is reinforced concrete pipe, precast concrete manholes and precast concrete box culverts.
“Before we entered the pre-cast pipe industry, anytime a construction company needed a concrete pipe, they had to purchase from suppliers that are not locally owned,” Carlson explained. “We saw the need to bring that business closer to home. We are the only South Dakota-owned concrete pipe producer.”
Based in Hartford, S.D., Cemcast is ideally located, with easy access and proximity to SD Hwy 38 and Interstates 90 and 29. Carlson says that because of his company’s location, it’s easy to enjoy aspects of owning a rural business in a metropolitan area.
“Sioux Falls is a clean town with excellent school systems and relatively low crime. Not only that, there are so many opportunities available for professionals of all kinds, in all stages of their careers,” he said. “It makes it easy to quickly advance.”
Professional development and career advancement is something Carlson would like to see more of.
“Manufacturing, especially in the construction industry, has changed and grown,” he said. “We don’t see many kids walk in here with hard-skills looking to do construction work. Our tech schools do a great job promoting construction management, but what we need, like many other manufactures, are employees who have usable skills like welding and machining. We have plenty of managers and leaders, and those are great skill-sets too, but we need more hands-on, trade-skilled workers.”
Carlson says it’s a matter of learning to crawl before we walk before we run, so-to-speak.
“Take math for example. That’s usable knowledge. But you need to be able to think conceptually, know where and how things are going to come together. You need advanced algebra to do that—and we use it every day,” he said.
But so far, Cemcast has been fortunate to hire employees who have certain skill-sets to make them successful.
“We needed a mechanic, a guy walked in and we hired him. We needed welders, a few guys walked in, and we hired them too,” said Carlson. “But like many companies, we can always use more help, especially as we continue to grow and expand our product line.”
Cemcast is a subdivision of Carl V. Carlson Company based in Hartford, S.D.