Clow Stamping has made Merrifield its home for more than 40 years. The metal stamping and fabrication business has devoted that time to manufacturing quality products while “exceeding customer requirements and expectations in all areas.”

For roughly 30 years, operations have been led by Reggie Clow, who inherited the company from his parents, Everett and Gladys Clow, and serves as owner, president and CEO.

The Clows started the business in St. Louis Park in 1970. The business quickly grew too large for the facility and they found the current site in Merrifield after hearing suggestions from lakes area customers and citing a desire to live in a more rural setting.

“It took me a year to get used to (rural life),” Clow said. “I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea, but it turned out to be a great idea. I love it up here. It is a great place to live.”

At that time, the building was 15,000 square feet and the Clows only needed roughly one-third of that space to operate.

Now, Clow Stamping employs 430 people, filling a building totalling 275,000 square feet in size and growing. Their products ship to much of the nation - for more than 25 markets, including major equipment manufacturers like John Deere and the Kubota Tractor Corporation - with limited international shipping as well.

Before taking over for his parents, Clow recalls his father’s commitment to quality and customer service.

“Quality was very important to my dad,” he said. “We just carried it on.”

In the past five years, Clow Stamping has expanded its facility three times and added nearly 200 jobs to the payroll. They have designed and priced another addition to the building, but do not plan to expand until necessary, which may be relatively soon.

“I assume we are going to continue to grow,” Clow said. “We could add another $10 million in sales here and handle it. If we get beyond that point, I’ll have to look at expanding.”

In his time running the business, Clow said he is proud of the culture that has been established for his employees and customers.

“I have a great staff, and we are very sensitive to customer needs,” Clow said. “We provide a competitive product on time. A lot of the customers want me to do the work for them, and I’m happy to do it.”

As for the employees of Clow Stamping, their president and CEO believes they enjoy what he called a fair wage with good benefits, as well as the opportunity to move up in the company.

“I pretty much always promote from within,” Clow said. “I have only gone outside for one hire in the past … All of my managers grew up in the company and eventually were promoted. There is always a chance for advancement.”

A turning point for the company, according to Clow, came roughly 12 years ago in fear of foreign competition when Clow Stamping hired consultants, who suggested the business cut down on unnecessary aspects.

“That was when our customers started buying from overseas,” Clow said. “I decided we had to cut the fat and lean out and stay competitive. We still practice lean manufacturing today. It really changed our culture.”

In the future, Clow expects the business to continue growing in some form, and also hopes the family business stays in the family.

“I have a 16-year-old son who may eventually take over, but he is pretty young so who knows?” Clow said. “I would like to see it become a third-generation business, but we are just going to have to wait and see.”



DAN DETERMAN may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dandeterman.