2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Greeley

Herl carries on Noffsinger’s long tradition 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Greeley

Right from the get-go, Dean Herl was interested in how things worked. A natural tinkerer, he was drawn to the mechanics of the objects surrounding him. Building a career in manufacturing was a natural fit after he graduated with an engineering degree from Kansas State University. Add a master’s in business administration and a love for the management side, he’s now heading up Noffsinger Manufacturing in Greeley.

The variety and interaction with customers and staff make every day enjoyable. Manufacturing brings new challenges every day, and Herl has learned to expect the unexpected.

“You go in and you think you know what you’re going to do that day,” said Herl, “and you end up doing something totally different.”

In business for nearly 100 years, Noffsinger Manufacturing is still family owned four generations later, and the corporate offices operate from the company’s original location on the corner of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue. With manufacturing facilities in Canada, Minnesota and Idaho, Noffsinger can claim the distinction of being the oldest and most established manufacturer of crop-conveyance products. While the products may seem obscure, Herl points out that nearly 95 percent of any produce consumed in the world has been harvested with a Noffsinger product.

Potatoes and sugar beets are the primary crops that utilize Noffsinger technology. “But we get into specialty crops, too, like carrots, tomatoes, pickles, onions — all of that,” Herl said. He noted that more fragile crops such as strawberries that typically have been harvested by hand now are being harvested by automated and mechanized systems, especially as labor costs have increased while the availability of labor has decreased.

Like their customers, Noffsinger has looked at how to automate within its own facilities. That alleviates some of the pressure the company has faced in a very competitive labor market. Herl recognizes that while there are fewer plant positions, they are more specialized. It’s become increasingly difficult to find people who want to make careers in the manufacturing sector.

“It’s a really good career and I wish more kids would go down that path,” he said. “A good machinist with five years of experience will make more than degreed engineers right out of college.” He points to the apprenticeship system in Germany and how it nurtures the next generation of manufacturing professionals. “Skilled tradespeople are so hard to find, and I just don’t know what the remedy to that situation is,” Herl said. “Somehow, we have to spark that interest early on.”

Over the past three years since coming aboard, Herl has implemented process improvements that have fueled consistent growth. He fosters existing relationships with companies that have partnered with Noffsinger since its inception. EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo is a prime example.

“We’re able to take steel that’s made in Colorado, make that into a finished product and then sell it all over the world,” said Herl. “Our product ships to China and Russia and so many other countries. That says a lot. It’s a really good thing and I’m very proud of that.”

Click here to read about all 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur honorees.

Right from the get-go, Dean Herl was interested in how things worked. A natural tinkerer, he was drawn to the mechanics of the objects surrounding him. Building a career in manufacturing was a natural fit after he graduated with an engineering degree from Kansas State University. Add a master’s in business administration and a love for the management side, he’s now heading up Noffsinger Manufacturing in Greeley.

The variety and interaction with customers and staff make every day enjoyable. Manufacturing brings new challenges every day, and Herl has learned to expect the unexpected.

“You go in and you think you know what you’re going to do that day,” said Herl, “and you end up doing something totally different.”

In business for nearly 100 years, Noffsinger Manufacturing is still family owned four generations later, and the corporate offices operate from the company’s original location on the corner of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue. With manufacturing facilities in Canada, Minnesota and Idaho, Noffsinger can claim the distinction of being the oldest and most established manufacturer of crop-conveyance products. While the products may seem obscure, Herl points out that nearly 95 percent of any produce consumed in the world has been harvested with a Noffsinger product.

Potatoes and sugar beets are the primary crops that utilize Noffsinger technology. “But we get…