MOUNDRIDGE — Grasshopper Mowers was one of several manufacturers in McPherson County hosting area high school students as part of activities for Manufacturing Day 2018.

Students toured Grasshopper’s 300,000-square-foot headquarters in Moundridge and were able to get a first-hand look at the production process — from raw steel to finished product — for the Grasshopper Zero Turn Riding Lawnmower.

Ryan Wiebe, who works in Grasshopper’s human resources department, guided smaller groups — like the half-dozen Inman High School students — and larger groups such as the one from Brooks Training Center at Newton High School through the facility.

“We value our relationship with the Brooks Center as it continues to produce manufacturing students prepared for skilled positions and equipped to advance their learning through on-the-job training,” Wiebe said.

Wiebe pointed out the high-tech processes used in the making lawnmowers and answered questions from the students about equipment used and skills needed in manufacturing process.

The tour showcased CNC machining, fabrication, robotic welding, powder coat painting, assembly, crating and shipping areas.

Wiebe emphasized the need for soft skills such as dependability, a positive attitude and a willingness to learn for employees to be successful in manufacturing careers.

“Moundridge is the epitome of rural American work ethic, which has always been strong. Look at the unemployment rate for McPherson County and it’s a half-percent lower than the already low percentage for surrounding counties,” said Trent Guyer, marketing coordinator for Grasshopper Mowers.

A family-owned business with 60 years of manufacturing experience, Grasshopper has specialized in making ZeroTurn riding rotary mowers since 1969. Their lawnmowers are sold in all 50 states and in 40 other countries around the world.

“We’re centrally located between both local and regional trade centers and just off an interstate, which helps with employee transit and goods transport. Plus we’re just 45 minutes away from Eisenhower National Airport, allowing us to reach most destinations of interest worldwide in just two flights,” Guyer said.

Competitive pay and benefits, promotion from within and career advancement opportunities are all hallmarks of the company, according to Guyer.

“Advancement can be summarized best by looking at one of our department foremen,” Guyer said. “He joined the company as an entry-level assembler and advanced to lead the machine shop, despite no prior machining experience. He gained the knowledge and experience right here within the factory. He gives back with his participation on a trade school advisory board.”

Facility tours of Grasshopper Mower are available by appointment and can be scheduled by calling 620-345-6301 at least three days in advance.

For more information about Manufacturing Day and its events around the country, visit https://www.mfgday.com.

 

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.