Design Ready Controls makes Brooklyn Park home, hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony

Design Ready Controls CEO Troy Schmidtke and Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde wield the big scissors, while company leaders and community officials gather around, for the ribbon-cutting May 20 for Design Ready’s new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Brooklyn Park. (Sun Post staff photo by Gretchen Schlosser)

Design Ready Controls made the company’s presence in Brooklyn Park official May 20 by hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of its new headquarters building next to Highway 169 along 93rd Avenue North.

The new building consolidates the company’s Minnesota operations from five different locations, from Rockford to Minneapolis, CEO Troy Schmidtke noted in his speech to the large crowd of community officials and company leaders and employees.

“Thank you to our customers and our suppliers,” Schmidtke said. “This is your building.”

The company’s commitment to the community and recruiting and developing workers from the diverse city of Brooklyn Park and the surrounding areas is significant, Mayor Jeff Lunde said. The mayor noted one of his other jobs, at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School in Brooklyn Center, involves working with families in poverty and a diverse student population that doesn’t often get recruited and understand that high-tech, good paying jobs are for them.

“You give them hope,” Lunde said, nodding to the new building, “that they can work here.”

The company provides engineering and manufacturing services to produce original equipment

manufacturer control systems for HVAC, building technology, water technology, oil and gas pumping and for alternative energy customers.

The facility is environmentally conscious, including the prairie grass lawn outside that doesn’t need maintenance other than periodic burning, and has an electric radiant heat system in the floors. Plans call for the addition of solar panels on the roof.

About 200 people, in two shifts, work at the Brooklyn Park facility now, according to Mitch DeJong, vice president of technology for Design Ready. There is capacity in the building to double that workforce, he noted.

The company headquarters is well-placed, DeJong noted, to attract both entry-level workers and engineering talent, from the nearby cities and further out thanks to the location near the route of the planned Blue Line Extension of light rail transit.

The company has already built a relationship with Hennepin Technical College, so Design Ready’s workers can get their controls engineering degree while working full-time, furthering their career and increasing their paychecks.

The company wants workers, even if they are not yet skilled, to know that if they show up, be accurate and show initiative, the company will provide an opportunity for them, DeJong said.

“We want to get them in and see that they have a career path with us,” he said.

While the company uses high-tech manufacturing tools, that doesn’t mean there are fewer jobs, he stressed. Rather, the technology does the mundane work, while the employee does the more interesting and customizing work, as the systems are engineered specifically for the customer needs.

“(Our system) removes the human touch, but it doesn’t remove the human,” he said.

Brad Thorpe and Jeff Thorstad, both instructors in Hennepin Tech’s engineering technology programs, noted the company and the college are working to schedule shifts and classes to meet the training needs of the Design Ready workers.

A portion of the training program cost is covered by the Minnesota PIPELINE (Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience) project. With Design Ready’s contribution, tuition costs are paid for any employee to earn their two-year degree.

“Design Ready is one of the first companies to grab onto this,” Thorstad said.

“It makes sense for everyone,” Thorpe said. “What they learn in class, they then do on the job. That’s the best way to learn.”

Contact Gretchen Schlosser at gretchen.schlosser@ecm-inc.com

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