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Daviess County plant fabricates custom metal for ag, military

TMCNet:  Daviess County plant fabricates custom metal for ag, military

Sep 25, 2011 (St. Joseph News-Press – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –
GALLATIN, Mo. — Agriculture and the federal government rely on a rural Daviess County plant to produce essential components for tractors and trucks.

Landmark Manufacturing — located east of Gallatin, Mo. — began with a small and humble identity in 1953 and remains a family-owned business. The 500,000-square-foot plant has a number of departments and now uses state-of-the-art innovation to fabricate thousands of different metal components for hundreds of customers.

“We are sheet metal fabrication, basically,” said Landmark Contracts Manager James Critten. “We do a lot of robotic welding here, laser cutting, (and) stamping. It started as a machine shop and grew into this. … A lot of people don’t know we’re here.”

The metal stamping machinery is large and capable of reaching a capacity of up to 2,000 tons, a benchmark that Mr. Critten said sets the company apart from industry competitors and is known around the Midwest. There are 23 welding robots and 40 stamping presses.

“The equipment here is not easy to move,” he said. “This is where it has to stay. … It’s all about force.”

Landmark boasts an electrostatic paint system that achieves high-quality, low-cost finishes that establish an industry standard and is used for truck industry customers.

“It’s what the auto industry uses,” Mr. Critten said of the paint process.

The firm has a range of clients — with a noteworthy several spanning more than two decades — and including those that make agricultural machinery and tractors. Landmark does complete projects for the federal government, such as parts for five-ton military trucks. Business is done in Iowa, Georgia and Kansas City — among other locales.

“Our two biggest customers are Kubota and John Deere,” Mr. Critten said. “We do truck suspensions and truck radiator frames.”

There is more than 200,000 square feet of warehouse space.

With a current quota of 180 employees over two shifts, Landmark is the county’s largest employer. It racks up annual sales of $25 million to $30 million.

“Since we’re from a rural area, we have good employees,” he said. Many of the workers are farmers.

Success has been tempered by economic difficulties, which haven’t dampened a brighter outlook.

“We’ve seen some tough times in the last three or four years,” he said. “Raw materials and energy costs keep going up. We are unable to pass all of those costs on to our customers (sometimes none), so our margins keep slipping year over year. … We see things looking up now. … We’re seeing some positive trends.”

An in-house trucking fleet aids in transporting finished products to customers, although there is some commercial shipping.

Equipment expansions have always been on the company’s annual agenda, according to Mr. Critten.

Ray Scherer can be reached at

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