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It's no fabrication: DL's own BTD Manufacturing earns FMA Industry Award

BTD emphasizes building a career, rather than just doing a job, as a way of keeping and retaining its workforce, which currently numbers roughly 1,200 employees. (Submitted photos)1 / 3
BTD Manufacturing was recently honored by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International with its 2018 Industry Award, which recognizes exceptional performance by a metal fabrication company. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
BTD Manufacturing uses highly specialized equipment to satisfy its hundreds of customers throughout North America. (Submitted photo) 3 / 3

BTD Manufacturing has come a long way since its days as a tool and die operation (yes, BTD once stood for "Bismarck Tool & Die") back in 1979.

Today, nearly 40 years later, the Detroit Lakes-based business operates facilities at five different locations and employs over 1,200 people. In 2017, the company reached $200 million in revenue for the first time, and reached No. 4 on the "Fab 40" list of top industry manufacturers published annually by "The Fabricator," the official publication of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) International.

To cap off a truly exceptional year, BTD was recently named as the 2018 recipient of FMA's Industry Award, a prestigious honor presented annually to a company in the metal forming and fabricating industry that is deemed one of the best examples of a metal manufacturing operation in North America.

"The award is based on three main components," says Jared Lotzer, BTD's vice president in charge of sales.

Those criteria are: Operational improvements that led to increased production efficiency; company growth and success; and contributions made to improve the image of manufacturing and support both local and industrial communities.

The Fabricator's editorial board and staff select each year's winner, which receives the cover story in the magazine's February issue as well as a formal award presentation during FMA's annual leadership conference, held this year in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 7-9.

"At the conference, our president, Paul Gintner, spoke about our journey," Lotzer said.

And what a journey it's been. In the feature article about the award, The Fabricator's Dan Davis states, "The company has been on an aggressive growth streak in recent years that's not really been duplicated by competitors."

In 2008, BTD acquired Miller Welding and Iron Works in Washington, Ill., which enabled them to tackle heavy-duty fabrications; between 2015-2017, it added 90,000 square feet of warehousing space to its Detroit Lakes facilities, enabling it to move a warehousing operation from Otsego, Minn., into its Detroit Lakes and Lakeville facilities, while consolidated its manufacturing operations into a nearly 400,000 square foot facility in Lakeville; and in 2016, the company acquired Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville, Ga.

This aggressive growth has allowed its parent company, Otter Tail Corp. — which also owns Otter Tail Power Co. and some other manufacturing interests — to dream big, with management believing it can achieve $250 million in annual revenues by 2022.

But despite all this rapid growth, BTD still strives to maintain its culture. In the Fabricator article, Gintner says, "In the eyes of the customer, we are trying to act as one BTD. Whether you walk into a plant in Detroit Lakes or Dawsonville... we want the experience to be the same.

"Intimacy and relationships still mean something in this industry. It's not all transactional," he continued. "We believe our best customers were relationship-built."

To learn more, please visit the website at, or to read the full Fabricator article, please visit and search for "BTD Manufacturing."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454