Valmont Industries was recognized as the Large Manufacturer of the Year at the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual Manufacturing Summit last month.
Since 1946, Valmont, which was founded in Valley and based out of Omaha, has developed infrastructure for irrigation equipment in more than 100 countries across the world. Preferred Popcorn of Chapman won the Small Manufacturer of the Year.
“What we’re always looking for is companies that create innovation that make them more competitive, but also companies that really demonstrate the ability to create not only national but sometimes global reach in terms of their ability to compete,” Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone said. “And Valmont is certainly a global leader in the products and services that they provide.”
Slone said the chamber has a close relationship with the National Association of Manufacturers and enjoys highlighting the important work done by manufacturers across the state.
“I think we all know and we all talk about having ag being our No. 1 industry in the state, but a really close second is manufacturing,” he said. “Manufacturing is a huge piece of our economy in this state, so this is one of our favorite events every year, is to honor two of our very best manufacturers.”
Renee Campbell, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Valmont Industries, said the company was honored to receive the award and is proud to actively support the communities where its facilities are located.
“Over the years, we’ve provided opportunities for several high-skilled manufacturing professions, as well as administrative and professional careers,” she said. “Our variety of career paths and international reach make us one of the few local employers who can provide opportunities to work in a global role across many different businesses.”
Slone said Nebraska has been a global leader in center pivot irrigation, with the technologies being developed in the state.
“What I love about companies like Valmont is that it proves that you can run any global company from right here in Nebraska and develop the technologies to compete,” he said. “And those are kind of examples that we need for Nebraska to continue to compete in the global market.”
Out of its 10,000 global employees in almost 90 facilities, Valmont employs 2,200 people in the state. Its annual revenue is about $3 billion, Campbell said.
Campbell said many of Valmont’s products are custom-made, and each infrastructure product is custom-designed and engineered.
Valmont is also investing in technology across its business segments. For example, its engineered support structures business is working on smart pole innovation.
“So this is where a traditional lighting and traffic structure can serve multiple functions, such as also serving as a wireless communication structure that might include a security camera, parking meter or electric vehicle charging station,” Campbell said.
Valmont’s utility business has begun manufacturing on a spun-concrete distribution pole to withstand extreme weather and its coating business has developed a smartphone app to communicate with customers on orders.
Earlier this year, Valmont also partnered with artificial intelligence company Prospera Technologies to create an autonomous crop management tool, Campbell said.
“We are already monitoring over 1 million acres in the U.S., using aerial imagery to virtually scout for crop health concerns related to irrigation or other issues in the field,” she said.
For generations, Slone said the most precious natural resource has been oil, but he believes in the coming decade, that resource will be water.
“Valmont is a leader in developing water technologies and concentrated water technologies associated with agriculture that are going to be absolutely critical to the global economy going forward,” he said. “And those innovations are really, really important.”
Valmont also participates in local events, including the Valley Days Parade, which raised money toward flood relief, and donates to its United Way campaign as well.
“We are dedicated to training and employing the best talent who live our core values of passion, integrity, continuous improvement, and delivering results, on a daily basis,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Valmont’s strategy is to grow its annual revenue from $3 billion to $5 billion during the next five years.
“To do so, we must innovate faster than our competitors to continue our leadership position in the markets we serve,” she said. “We are in good businesses that have strong, enduring, long-term drivers that support our tagline of ‘Conserving Resources. Improving Life.’”
Even with manufacturing shifting toward using more data and information to drive process improvement and increase efficiency, Campbell said Valmont was built on the foundation of investing in the best human talent and manufacturing technologies.
“Even as more automation is introduced, there will be a growing need for a skilled workforce as all manufacturing companies must find ways to conserve resources and improve product quality to best serve their customers,” she said. “We’re just very honored to have received this recognition from the Nebraska Chamber.”
Slone said he’s appreciated having Valmont be an important member of the chamber and a great contributor to its activities. He said few states have as many truly great companies as Nebraska does.
“Sometimes in Nebraska, we take that for granted,” he said. “But we have some really incredible companies that are national and global companies right here in Nebraska that support our communities and support our trade associations and create the jobs that really make Nebraska have the quality of life it does.”