Above, Co-Line employees enjoy a meal and employee meeting in the long-awaited, new Jasper County building on Friday, April 28. Production officially began in the new facility on May 1.
After two years of construction, Co-Line Welding, Inc. began operations in its first Jasper County facility on Monday, May 1. Originally named County Line Welding in 1979, due to their location on the Mahaska and Jasper County lines, this is the local manufacturer’s first expansion across the county line on the farmstead of co-owner Dale Brand’s late father, Lloyd Brand. The expansion project faced many delays, mainly due to building lead time, contractor labor issues, delays in concrete, and supply chain issues of electrical components. For the first time in the company’s history, this new facility is dedicated to assembly. In the past, Co-Line’s main customer base has assembled their own products with Co-Line supplying a wide array of steel components. Specializing in welding, robotic welding, laser cutting, bending, machining, stamping, tool and die, paint and powder finishing, this is the company’s first large-scale assembly project.
Since 2018, Co-Line has been manufacturing parts for TrafFix Devices, of San Clemente, CA. As its business in the road safety industry has continued to grow, Co-Line began aligning themselves to help with the production constraints TrafFix was facing in California and move production to Iowa.
“Since 2020, Co-Line has been faced with a unique position of having more work than we can accept. As we have had to choose which jobs to take on and grow with, customer TrafFix was one of our first priorities. They have many of the same business values as we have and are in an industry that is saving lives on our busy highways,” said Peter Smith, sales manager for Co-Line.
For the father-son owner team, Dale and Eric Brand, they enjoy expansion, dirt work, and the building process. “Knowing that opportunity was knocking, we quickly began pushing dirt on April 9, 2021,” said Dale Brand. “TrafFix and Co-Line have great personal and professional synergies. The collective purpose and passion for this product line is exciting for Team Co-Line. We also recognize and appreciate the Jasper County Board of Supervisors. Their confidence in us helped make this project possible.”
Over Co-Line’s 44 years, the original facility that was destroyed by a tornado in 2007 was added on to four times. In 1990, Co-Line built its first manufacturing facility (referred to as North Building today), which was also added on to four times. In 2005, Co-Line began construction on its South Facility and added 80,000 square feet, and in 2017, added 120,000 square feet to complete the building that now houses its state-of-the-art paint and powder lines. In 2020, a separate building was built as a truck wash and grounds facility, but quickly became used for assembly of the new product line instead. With the addition of the Jasper County facility, Co-Line currently has 372,000 square feet under roof.
Not only have the facilities changed over the years for Co-Line, the number of employees has, too. Employee head count is at 220 currently, with many more open positions available due to continued sales growth. The current Jasper facility has seven employees, but the assembly lines have the potential for 40 total employees in the next two years. Equipment and technology upgrades continue as well at Co-Line, thanks to the Manufacturing 4.0 Grant received last year from the State of Iowa.
What’s next for Team Co-Line? “Plans are in place to expand to the east, crossing T-33,” shared the Brand family. “Crossing the highway safely continues to be the number one concern as we lay out our next Mahaska County expansion. Further expansion into Jasper County is still on the radar. It just will take a whole lot more dirt work!”