Electronics Systems Inc. will increase its manufacturing space by 60 percent with a new addition that breaks ground this week.
The Sioux Falls manufacturer, founded in 1980, will add an 18,500-square-foot steel structure building to join two separate facilities at 600 E. 50th St. N.
The addition will break ground May 11 at 11:30 a.m. and support manufacturing of high-tech custom electronic circuit board assemblies involving automated equipment, assembly and testing operations.
“It’s being driven by demand,” president and shareholder Gary Larson said. “We’ve seen steady growth in our business, consistently for the last decade, and then after a slight blip at the start of the pandemic, we’ve done nothing but continue to grow.”
ESI provides a full range of electronic manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, in the industrial, commercial, medical, energy, agriculture and biotech markets.
“Nearly everything has electronics in it now, so there’s considerable demand in many industries, but you still have to earn the business,” Larson said. “What we’ve seen is a solid base of customers that we continue to service, and they continue to reward our efforts.”
It all centers around customer service, he emphasized. The goal at ESI is not just good customer service but legendary service. The kind that exceeds expectations and leads customers to tell others.
“Everybody here has the same job, and that’s providing legendary service to the customer no matter what your position in the company,” Larson said. “That’s what we’re focused on, and it’s served us well.”
It culminated in the company being honored with the highest overall customer rating and the Service Excellence Award sponsored by leading trade publication Circuits Assembly.
The designation reflected the highest score in all categories, from quality to technology, value for price, responsiveness, dependability and timely delivery.
“ESI is a fantastic company, and we’re excited to celebrate their success with this expansion,” said Mike Gray, director of business development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “We were glad to advise them on the local programs available to assist growing companies as we work to expand target industries in our community.”
One valuable program will allow the company to “stair step up” into the increased property taxes that the expansion will bring with it.
“This allows them to gradually take on that additional cost instead of experiencing it immediately after making a large capital investment to grow in Sioux Falls,” Gray said.
ESI is a strong example of the onshoring business that has occurred since 2020.
“The pandemic certainly made businesses understand the value of a domestic manufacturing partner,” Larson said. “From that perspective, the market has changed, and we’re seeing new opportunities.”
Of course, capturing those opportunities takes people. ESI has grown to 275 employees, but its expansion will require more.
“The job market is tough, and the majority of our workforce works directly in manufacturing – assembly, machine operators and things like that – although we also have staff in engineering, materials and purchasing,” Larson said. “If we find people willing to work a steady shift and in support roles, they can have great success here.”
ESI has worked closely with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Career Connections program, bringing high school students into the production facility to learn more about the opportunities here.
The hope is to encourage more internships and launch a manufacturing technician certificate through Southeast Technical College this fall to build a pipeline of workers directly sourced from high school and offer a way to upskill.
“Nothing we build has our name on it, so students don’t know us and have no idea what goes on in a building like this,” Larson said. “When groups come through, it’s been a fun opportunity to tell our story.”
Larson makes it relatable, teaching students how ESI manufactures electronics that power drive-thru intercoms and interruption controls for emergency response vehicles, for example.
“We relate it to real life – these are things nobody knows about,” Larson said. “We enjoy working with the Development Foundation and are looking forward to getting more traction in our student-focused programs.”
The company is a strong opportunity for workers at all skill levels, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
“This is a highly automated, tech-driven business that continues to make key investments both in its physical facility as well as in talent,” she said. “It’s a perfect example of how we’re trying to open students’ eyes to the opportunities that exist to learn valuable skills and grow a career without leaving Sioux Falls.”
ESI hopes to open its expansion sometime in the third quarter.
“We’re really focusing on expanding our current capacity, so we’ll add any new equipment we need, and that might increase our capabilities because the technology is ever-changing, especially in automation, so we’re always upgrading,” Larson said.
“And we’ll be hiring to support the expansion. We’re already anticipating it and trying to stay ahead.”