October 1, 2009 at 7:49 a.m.
Established in Lindstrom business moved to North Branch, now in Wyoming
Fire truck manufacture gets county board certificate of recognition for eight decades of employing people in Chisago County
Rosenbauer-General Safety owner Kevin Kirvida and manager Steve Reedy accepted the honor. They are shown in photo with County Board Chair Ben Montzka, left side and to right, County Economic Development Authority/Housing and Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Chris Eng.
Rosenbauer-General Safety's bottom line is robust, according to Kirvida. He added that the company went into 2009 with about 18 months of equipment orders lined up. Last year was one of the busiest the company's ever had, he added.
Rosenbauer-General Safety builds custom fire apparatus for use all over the world, so even though the U.S. economy is stagnant, the company has clients in places like Saudi Arabia, which ordered 200 rigs recently. "About 30 percent of existing orders are international," the county commissioners were told.
The company employs 170 here and will design/build about 200 fire fighting rigs annually. There is also a plant in South Dakota that manufactures about 600 more. The Nebraska General Safety facility produces any aerial devices incorporated into trucks.
Rosenbauer-General Safety is a Kirvida family enterprise, begun in a building in Lindstrom. It outgrew a couple of sites in Lindstrom and eventually moved to North Branch where it remained for over 40 years. Around 1992 the existing plant was built in the Wyoming Industrial Park. A plant expansion allowing for storage and parking was just approved by the Wyoming City Council.
Reedy explained to the County Board that the company lags behind most economic indicators because fire rigs are ordered far ahead of delivery time and usually funding is arranged well in advance. But the down turn in the economy has impacted some smaller suppliers, he mentioned a driveline producer and a tire manufacturer are experiencing financial difficulty.
Rosenbauer-General Safety also works with and stores inventory for the Fire Relief Mission, which has been highlighted in earlier Press feature stories. This is a local organization that came together to educate firefighters about re-use of older or obsolete equipment and acts as a clearinghouse for equipment distributed to firefighters in underdeveloped nations. The Fire Relief Mission most recently was improving equipment for a fire station in an emerging country in the Baltics.