FORREST — As part of his district events agenda for Aug. 9, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger met with Mark and Don Slagel, co-owners of Slagel Manufacturing in Forrest, for a tour of the facility and to discuss the state of the industry.
Company President Mark Slagel gave Kinzinger a little background on the business, pointing out that Slagel Manufacturing was founded in 1993 to provide metal fabrication services for farmers and small businesses in Central Illinois, and to provide for Slagel’s growing family.
“We started making mostly hog equipment,” Slagel said. “At the time there were a few businesses that put up a lot of hog buildings, but we also worked for a few local farmers, too.”
As the business continued to grow, Slagel’s brother, Don, joined the company as a coowner in 1996 and they soon expanded from a home shop to the current facility in 2000. Since moving to the current location, the
building has undergone six additions and currently employs about 40 workers.
After hearing the history of the company, Kinzinger’s first question for Slagel was, “What is the biggest skill set you need and are you having a hard time finding that?”
Slagel said the industry, as a whole, needs more welders, but as a company, Slagel Manufacturing has been able to find local help.
“Maybe they aren’t completely trained at the time they are hired, but we can get them trained through our program,” Slagel said. “We haven’t really struggled in the last five years or so with finding help.”
To find workers, Don Slagel said they often use temp services. The temp workers typically get hired on after their contract, if they have been working hard and proving themselves.
Kinzinger commended the business, guessing that part of their success may have to do with the fact that so many people locally are pre-exposed to welding and skilled labor. He also said Slagel’s type of success isn’t as common in Northern Illinois.