Sen. Amy Klobuchar toured Geringhoff Manufacturing in St. Cloud Thursday and talked about the need for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry.
Geringhoff is a German-based harvest equipment manufacturer that specializes in combine headers. The St. Cloud manufacturing plant is the company's sole U.S. production facility.
Geringhoff President and CEO Tosh Brinkerhoff said the manufacturer grew from 50 employees to 75 in the last year because of demand.
"It was a struggle last fall, but we’ve really put a lot of emphasis into recruiting and it’s gotten better," Brinkerhoff said. He had a hard time finding the right workers with welding capabilities and mechanical assembly skills.
"Sometimes it’s hard to find people that have that mechanical aptitude," Brinkerhoff said.
"It’s a huge deal that we get as many high school kids as we can into this area and make sure they see it as a path to success," Klobuchar said. "We know from some of the technical colleges how in-demand these jobs are."
In his discussions with Klobuchar, Brinkerhoff also talked about trade, agriculture and transportation. Rising steel prices and a possible soybean tariff from China are causing concern as they could affect his business on both the supply and demand sides.
"Rising steel prices is a concern," Brinkerhoff said. "And on top of that, if China retaliates by putting a tariff on soybeans, then farmers are going to have less money to buy our equipment."
Klobuchar toured the manufacturing facility and spoke with workers during her visit. Brinkerhoff said he was impressed with the senator's knowledge and support of business and agriculture.
"It’s nice to be able to know that our elected officials in Washington D.C. are listening and we have the opportunity to have a forum with them and express what’s going well for us in our business and what we need help with," Brinkerhoff said.