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Continued: High-tech Minnesota trash handler goes global

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 24, 2013 - 1:35 PM

In 2011, Harmony Enterprises acquired Cypress Environmental, its independent distributor in France, for about $1 million and established a 10-person sales-and-service office. Harmony wanted new accounts to better serve European operations of several of its big North American bottling customers in Europe.

“About a year and a half ago we got a call from [automaker] Renault, and they wanted a big horizontal cardboard baler at a factory in Morocco,” Cremer said. “We made a $100,000 sale. We’re pitching them now in France and another location in Morocco. All the auto parts come in cardboard boxes.”

In the Caribbean, Harmony Enterprises has sold several $75,000 balers that collect and compress tons of plastic bottles for sale to recyclers.

Cremer is fond of one deeply discounted sale he made to a nonprofit agency in Haiti. The country is buried in plastic bottles in the aftermath of its devastating earthquake and water-supply problems. In its first year of operation, that machine generated $400,000 in payments to individuals who brought plastic bottles to redemption centers.

“We’ve changed a lot strategically over the last 10 years from just making equipment and trying to sell it ... to trying to find solutions for different businesses,” Cremer said. And then there’s the $7,500 spent-tire baler Harmony sells to tire dealers around the globe that allows them to safely bale and store old tires, and automatically signal the recycler to come and get them when a truckload is ready to go.

Cremer, who provides profit-sharing on top of a wages-and-benefits package, quips that veteran factory workers no longer tease him about foreign business-development “vacations.”

They know that $4 in every $10 in sales come from overseas.

“Our production workers can tell you the specifications for wiring equipment all over the world,” Cremer said.

 

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144

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  • Steve Cremer

  • Harmony Enterprises

    Company founded: 1962

    Headquarters: Harmony, Minn., population 1,020

    Website: www.harmony1.com

    Employees: 85 (U.S. and Europe)

    2013 revenue (est.): $13 million

    Strategy: Family-owned Harmony plans to be a $25 million company within five years, thanks to growing demand for its automated trash compactors and its bailing machines for tires, cardboard, plastic and metal recyclables. About 40 percent of its sales are exports to other countries.

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