July 18, 2024

Stepp Manufacturing

[ North Branch, MN ]

You can see why there is a clearly marked “no parking” zone outside the former general store that houses Stepp Manufacturing Co. Inc. in North Branch, MN. The rural road might be two-lane, but it is only 20 feet wide—and as the Manufacturing Express eased onto the curb, it looked like a tanker ship docking at a neighborhood marina. No worries, though: they closed the road and rolled out the welcome mat as another multi-general manufacturer got on board our 10,000 mile tour.

Stepp employees test their industry knowledge at the Manufacturing Challenge.

Scott Stepp, one of three brothers running the company their grandfather launched in 1942, led a tour through the maze of industrial buildings added over the decades. 

About 60 employees and a smattering of guests celebrated the company’s success today, which runs entirely counter to the concept of cookie-cutter manufacturing. At Stepp, nearly every machine is a one-off, mostly because their customers have very specific needs. Most of the equipment goes to municipal governments, with other clients including operations like forest services. The core is asphalt material for highway maintenance, pothole repair and parking lots, but they also build a water tank a city might use for creating seasonal ice rinks.

Like so many visits on the Manufacturing Express route, Stepp is a company on the move. Those of you who attended ConExpo 2023 (and can boast surprisingly good memories) may recall that Stepp made news there, announcing a milestone partnership with Reed International, joining ranks with VSS Macropower and Kasi Infrared. On the facility tour, Scott Stepp explained to the Manufacturing Express crew that the company has 18 models, but each one is built totally from scratch.

Shane Anderson, from Stepp’s finished-product division, carefully applies the company logo to the Manufacturing Express.

“Every [model] is basically one at a time,” Stepp explained.

And, while the big majority of Stepp business remains in the United States, recent orders have come from places like Mexico, Canada and even Europe and South Asia.

By the time Shane Anderson, a finished-product division worker, applied the ceremonial sticker to the oversized Manufacturing Express bus, the company had posed for a rare all-hands photo, demolished an impressive spread of nachos and become the latest company to celebrate their membership in the worldwide equipment manufacturing community—along with their 2.3 million fellow manufacturing workers. 

As the golden hour set in, Manufacturing Express broke camp, cleared the road, and headed south toward the next of its 80 stops across 20 states. Along our way we’ve already found a few roads that could use Stepp’s machines this summer. The folks at Stepp are making machines that can handle it. After seeing what they can do, it’s clear the work of equipment manufacturers like Stepp Manufacturing is going to stretch out as long as the road ahead.

7/18 | Stepp Manufacturing (North Branch, MN)

Equipment Manufacturers' Impact in MINNESOTA

$10.5 billion is generated in tax revenue each year.

13.3k jobs are supported in Minnesota alone.

78.9k jobs equipment manufacturers indirectly support.

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