U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped in Bertha last week to tour Diamond Tool & Engineering, Inc. as part of a larger innovation tour.
Diamond Tool & Engineering specializes in intricate, close-tolerance plastic injection molds & tooling for the medical, electronic and automotive industries.
It started in 1989 as a tool and die company specializing in the injection molding plastics industry. Founder and President Kent Smith has been in the tool and die industry for over 35 years. Smith started in Minnesota and a few years later found himself in Ohio. While in Ohio, he found himself longing to return to his hometown of Bertha. He took a leap of faith and returned to Bertha to start a company that would not only provide economic security for himself, but also create good paying jobs for people in his home town.
The Minnesota facility is a full service tool and die shop, complete with the most advanced robotics. Diamond also has a facility in Ohio. The Ohio facility handles mold maintenance, repair, and global sourcing. Diamond Tool & Engineering can repair or update tools up to 16,000 lbs.
Smith started with three employees and now has 29 employees in Bertha.
“I feel like this is a gift from God,” he said of being able to have a successful manufacturing facility in his hometown.
Depreciation tax credits help the facility stay in business, Smith said. Klobuchar said she wants to make sure those tax credits stay in place.
Diamond Tool & Engineering, Inc. has worked closely with the Bertha school so students know about the industry and can have a jump start if they want to continue with a two-year degree.
Most of the employees have attended technical school and Smith said it’s important to continue investing in that kind of education. It can be hard to attract workers to a small town, he said.
Klobuchar said she wants to continue investing in trade schools and making sure small towns have the amenities needed to attract younger workers. Broadband access continues to be an issue in Todd County. She said she would continue to work on getting access to underserved areas in the state.
Other stops Wednesday included Vector Windows in Fergus Falls and Alexandria High School, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum.
“We need to add more STEM curriculum in our schools,” she said.
That type of education will help to promote the trade industries, which have good paying jobs, Klobuchar said.
“To stay competitive in the global economy, we need a 21st century education system that prepares our students for the jobs of tomorrow,” Klobuchar said. “I am committed to working across the aisle with Senator (John) Hoeven to build on this momentum and pass our legislation that will expand opportunities for all students to succeed.”
The Innovate America Act would add 100 new STEM schools, support scientific research and help remove burdensome regulations for small- and medium-sized businesses. The legislation would also help increase the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized businesses by promoting and rewarding schools, technical colleges and universities that focus on science, technology, engineering and math, as well as removing red tape and reducing production costs for manufacturing businesses.