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Supervisors Visit With Manufacturer

By Staff | Jul 7, 2011

Palo Alto County Supervisors learned about some future plans for a local manufacturer, and discussed possibilities to assist the company in some future expansion and growth. The discussion was part of the Supervisors’ June 28 board meeting.

Officials of Montag Manufacturing, along with Maureen Elbert of Kossuth/Palo Alto Economic Development, were on hand to visit with the board on the firms’ future. Currently, the first is using a portion of the EZ Automation Building, which is located at 3816 461st Avenue, on the south edge of Emmetsburg. The firm currently employs 15 full-time workers building the company’s spraying and fertilizing equipment systems.

“Our planter market is really growing,” noted Roger Montag. “Especially this Spring. We’ve been branching out into the southeastern U.S., into peanuts and sweet potato growing areas. We’re also getting our machines into sugar beets, and seeing a bigger demand for our products in the past five years.”

Among Montag’s offerings is its’ steerable cart, which was just patented after a four-year process.

“We’ve had interest in sending units into Europe,” Roger noted. “But, we’re restricted to a width of three and a half meters for use in Europe, which requires some reverse engineering.”

Montag also noted that a machine was recently sent to the Ukraine, and two were sent to China. “That was an adventure in itself, getting the operator’s manual translated into the Ukrainian language correctly so it could be understood.”

According to Montag, the success of the business is driven by the higher commodity and higher fertilizer costs of today’s economy. “But, that is also driving a problem for us. We need to expand our office spaces and in our current building, you have to travel through our manufacturing spaces to get to our offices. Our office staff keeps growing and we need to address that.”

Anthony Montag explained that the firm has looked at the possibility of acquiring the former Skyjack Manufacturing facility across the street from their current location, as well as visiting with the current location owner, Mark Gaalswyk. Both buildings are available for purchase, but there are issues.

“The problem we have is the Montags’ have options elsewhere,” Maureen Elbert told the supervisors. “We want to work with them to try and keep them right here in Emmetsburg, and we hope that you would be in agreement with us.”

Elbert noted that Enterprise Zone programs would not be feasible for the Montags, due to job creation requirements of the program. “What we are wondering is if there would be a possibility that if the Montags were to purchase either of these buildings, could there be some type of tax abatement program for a period of time? Maybe a five-year abatement or some type of sliding scale?”

The supervisors quickly spoke up.

“You fellows aren’t going anywhere,” Supervisor Leo Goeders said. “We will work with you.”

“I agree,” noted Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “We can do something.”

“What will the taxes be?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“We can’t answer that until a purchase is made, because taxable valuation is set on purchase price,” responded Palo Alto County Assessor Lois Naig.

“I think we need to do something, too,” added Supervisor Ron Graettinger.

“I agree,” added Board Chair Keith Wirtz. “I guess I’m wondering, do you really need that big Skyjack building?”

Roger Montag explained the firm is currently using 38,000 square feet in the EZ Automation building, which is approximately 72,000 square feet in size. The Skyjack building is 110,000 square feet in size. “We would like to have about 52,000 square feet.”

However, Montag noted that in purchasing either building, a significant investment would need to be made to update office spaces or make other repairs, noting that there are roof issues in the Skyjack building that would need to be resolved, and estimated that such costs could run around $260,000.

“Well, I’m hearing that we all want to keep you here, so if you folks get something figured out with one of those buildings, we’ll work with you,” Keith Wirtz told the Montags and Elbert.