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Midwest Values Attract International Manufacturer
NBDC played a key role in enabling a successful manufacturer to move its operations from California to Nebraska.
The Beatrice, Nebraska lawnmower manufacturing business previously known as Encore Manufacturing had been dormant for nearly two years until it was purchased in 2011 by Worldlawn Power Equipment, Inc.
In addition to assisting in the transition of ownership, NBDC provided support and assistance to the company from several programs. Manufacturing consultants evaluated work processes, and consultants from the energy efficiency and sustainability program helped redesign lighting to take advantage of a four-phase energy grant. An NBDC procurement assistance counselor helped staff complete the process for the central contract registry.
Worldlawn President Hardy Shao has since moved all of his company’s operations from City of Industry, California to Beatrice, where he has resumed manufacturing residential and commercial lawnmowers under both the Encore and Worldlawn brand names.
Shao says he was attracted to Encore because of the community’s location in the middle of the country, along with tax incentives and the advice and assistance of several entities including the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Auburn office.
“City and state officials and people at NBDC have been very wonderful,” says Shao, who founded Worldlawn in 2006. “Whatever information I need, I call or send an email and they’ve been very helpful to me.”
Shao says the strong work ethic and manufacturing experience of the people in Beatrice were also qualities he was seeking. At its peak, Encore employed 42 people. Since his arrival, Shao has hired 30 employees.
Encore Manufacturing was founded in 1988 by Dick Tegtmeier. When he decided to look for a buyer for the company, Tegtmeier was adamant that he wouldn’t sell Encore to anyone unless they kept it in Beatrice. He began negotiating with Worldlawn in 2008.
Worldlawn Power Equipment is operated by Jiangsu World Plant-Protecting Machinery Co., Ltd., in China. Jiangsu employs about 1,000 people, and is part of a larger company, WorldGroup, which employs 7,000 in China. WorldGroup is one of China’s Top 500 companies.
Worldlawn’s main products include five series of lawn mowers including riding models, push models and zero-turning radius (ZTR) mowers. The company distributes its products in the U.S., Asia, Australia and Europe.
Shao says his goal is to manufacture at least 5,000 mowers in 2012. Eventually, he’d like to expand the factory, increase production and add more workers.
“I like the Midwest culture and the down-to-earth people,” he says. “We have a nice facility and the environment is good for success. I have found there are many advantages to having a business here.”
NBDC Consultant: Mary Goebel-Lundholm, director, Auburn Center