Family, Business Relationship Brings 40 Years of Success
As the ribbon was cut, Falcon Plastics of Brookings celebrated another milestone in the company’s 40 year history. But Falcon Plastics is no ordinary company. This is a company that was built on strong family ties, a loyal employee base and company partners who have been with them every step of the way.
A humble beginning:
In 1975, Don and Carol Bender decided it was time to take a risk. They moved from the suburbs of Minneapolis to Brookings to start their own plastic molding manufacturing company. With a background and experience in manufacturing operations and molding, they began with just three employees, five used machines and 5,000 square feet of subleased space from Larson Manufacturing in Brookings. State financing programs such as the REDI (Revolving Economic Development & Initiative) Fund have played a role in helping this company grow.
Relationships spur growth:
Like any good businessman, Don instantly started forming relationships. His first customer, Raven Industries of Sioux Falls, was also an early investor. His landlord became a customer as well. Today, both Raven Industries and Larson Manufacturing are still clients and their business relationships remain strong.
“We feel good about the long-term relationships we have with our customers. We live off of repeat business, so we’re loyal to our customers and they’re loyal to us in return,” said Jay Bender, company president.
Other South Dakota customers include Daktronics, Black Hills Ammunition, Toshiba, Apex/Carex, Arctic Ice, Angus Palm and 3M. In fact, Falcon Plastics does more than 50 percent of its work for South Dakota companies. Brookings has been an ideal place for Falcon Plastics to grow, adding companies nation-wide such as Stanley Black & Decker, Amerex, Apex Carex and Yeti to its customer roster.
Employees play key role in success:
Bender credits the company’s nearly 250 employees for much of its success. “Our employees are a really a big part of our success. We are fortunate to have three employees that have been with the company for more than 35 years of the 40 we’ve been in business, and a lot of employees that have been with us 25 years or more,” said Bender. “I feel a huge sense of pride in my family for all of the hard work, and in my parents for taking such a big a risk.”
“It’s a great place to do business and the state is very business-friendly and helpful. They want to get out of your way and let you grow your business,” said Bender. “The tax climate is very good, one of the best, and the people are fantastic. We always have a great workforce with a good work ethic.”
Over the years, manufacturing has become very automated and technical. Falcon is currently handling twice as much work as 15 years ago with fewer employees, and although the automation has decreased the workforce needed for its operation, Bender said it has not reduced their payroll. In fact, it’s quite a bit higher, requiring more skilled workers and trade specific employees with further training and higher salaries.
The Bender clan continues to use the family-business dynamic to make the company stronger. The company has a well-balanced system with Jay and his brother Guy at the helm and new ideas and innovation from the grandchildren, like Jennifer Bender and Kyle Bender. Jennifer and Kyle feed their interests in new technology as entrepreneurs, having started Arctic Ice, a company that specializes in non-toxic cooler packs that last for days.
The 40-year celebration will include a proclamation from the Mayor of Brookings dubbing May 21st “Falcon Plastics Day.” The family is excited to open their doors to show where the last 40 years brought them and grateful to those that have traveled to join them. For more information on Falcon Plastics, Inc., visit www.falconplastics.com.