NDTO News Article

Tri-Steel Manufacturing extends global reach

Grand Forks, N.D. – After enduring a 20-hour flight from Sydney, Australia and some serious jet lag, Joe Deck towed his bags out of Grand Forks International Airport with no intention of going home for some sleep.

The avid hockey fan and sales manager for Grand Forks-based Tri-Steel Manufacturing Inc. headed over to Engelstad Arena where he cheered on the University of North Dakota Sioux hockey team during the playoffs March 12.

Deck and the entire Tri-Steel team bring the same tireless effort to serving the company’s growing number of national and international customers.

“We’re committed to providing our customers with high-quality equipment that is regularly custom-built to fit their needs,” Deck said. “But beyond supplying our customers, we make sure they get the service support they need to make sure they’re successful.”

For more than 40 years, Tri Steel Manufacturing has served the region’s farmers and food processors, building agricultural machinery and food-handling equipment.

Tri Steel got its start working in the Red River Valley’s potato industry, building many of the region’s wash plants where the potatoes are cleaned processed and shipped that are still in service today.

As the region’s agricultural production diversified so did Tri Steel. Today, Tri Steel manufactures complete lines of conveyor systems and wash line processing equipment.  From its 8,000 square-foot plant on Grand Forks’ northern edge,Tri Steel sells and services other food-processing tools including tot bags and packaging equipment to fully support its customers. Tri Steel also sells and services equipment from companies such as JAX, Macro Plastic and Lorrich Industries, among many others.

A recent addition to Tri-Steel’s product line is a pneumatic lifter. It uses suction and airflow to easily lift and move the heavy products onto pallets with more precision and finesse than forklifts.

“Our focus is on meeting the needs of our customers,” Deck said. “We are continually customizing products and expanding services to cover their specific needs.”

With 22 employees, Tri Steel is gaining an international reputation for providing high-quality products. The company’s equipment can be found in food processing centers around the world, from Canada to Turkey.

Last year, Tri-Steel’s exports to foreign buyers accounted for 34 percent of the company’s sales.  Deck said he expects export sales to be an even bigger part of Tri-Steel’s business this year.
Driving Tri-Steel’s growing international sales, Deck said, is a demand for well-engineered and dependable equipment.

Tri-Steel was one of 11 North Dakota companies that participated in a trade mission to Australia March 2-12.

In Australia, Deck maintained a dizzying week-long schedule, zig zagging across the country to meet with potential business partners and customers.

The trip, coordinated by the North Dakota Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service, generated new business for all of the participating companies.

“The Trade Office identified some great opportunities that we have been able to capitalize on,” Deck said. “Their staff has opened our eyes to what we can do not only here, but in the international market.”

Deck said the Trade Office and U.S. Commercial Service performed valuable market research and connected him with pre-qualified Australian distributors and other companies interested in developing business ventures.

Since Deck’s return from Australia, Tri-Steel has formed cooperative partnership with Kockums Bulk Systems, an Australian engineering firm, to develop and build a new line of pneumatic products; Equipment that will use airflow in its operation, such as the vacuum lifter.

Kockums will provide its engineers who are skilled in designing air-powered equipment and Tri-Steel will apply its manufacturing and sales expertise.

Deck said he believes Tri Steel is gaining international interest because of its flexibility to manufacture en masse or to meet customers’ needs for customized products.

Also playing a role in its growing international business, is Tri-Steel’s tireless dedication to customers, Deck said.

“When you provide high-quality equipment and unmatched service, customers have a way of finding you as well,” he said.