Manufacturing makes a return to De Witt

After 10 years, tool manufacturing is making a return to De Witt, Nebraska.

Malco employees, invited guests from the De Witt community, and Governor Pete Ricketts were on hand Friday night to celebrate the return of tool manufacturing in De Witt as Malco officially opens the doors of its new production facility at the former VISE-GRIP factory, which laid off hundreds of skilled manufacturing employees in the area after closing the factory and moving its operations to China in 2008—almost 10 years ago to the day.

The VISE-GRIP was created in De Witt in 1924, meaning the closing of the factory was so much more than a loss of jobs for the community—it was a loss in identity for the people of De Witt whose history and purpose was so entwined with the iconic tool. At its peak in the 1980s, the VISE-GRIP factory in De Witt employed over 600 people and when the factory closed, the hard-working residents of De Witt were determined that manufacturing would return someday, and made it their mission to bring good manufacturing jobs back to the community. Now, Malco is making that goal a reality by expanding its operations to De Witt, re-opening the plant and hiring back several former VISE-GRIP employees whose skills and experience are perfectly suited to Malco’s needs.

Malco will be making the Eagle Grip locking pliers at the plant. Malco Products, based in Annandale, Minnesota, is the nation’s leading manufacturer of high-quality, American-made tools for the HVAC trade (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). Manufacturing “tools of the trade” for HVAC professionals, exterior remodeling professionals, fence, deck and rail installation professionals, and autobody repair and refinishing professionals, Malco is backed by nearly 70 years of history, and was recently named the 2018 Medium Manufacturer of the Year by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Malco is an employee-owned Specific Benefit Corporation, a legal designation that indicates that a specific social benefit -- employee ownership, keeping jobs local and strengthening communities -- is the primary driver of its business decisions.