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DeGeest – Going above the industry standard

The definition of manufacturing is the making of articles on a large scale using machinery; industrial production. For many, the term brings thoughts of a low-lit environment, repetitive work, and dismal pay. Today though, many manufacturing companies, across the world and specifically in South Dakota, are proving those ideas and concepts are no longer relevant.

One specific company doing just that is DeGeest Corporation in Tea. This third-generation, family-owned business integrates robotics solutions and fabricates products for companies around the world.

With over 70 employees supporting with the day-to-day operation, DeGeest is continuing to grow throughout all departments. With an international impact, and a continued drive to grow and improve, today, DeGeest has state-of-the-art manufacturing solutions that not only help them but can help the entire industry.

“By creating new solutions to the industry, there are new career paths that didn’t exist before,” said Derek DeGeest, president.

DeGeest’s unique difference is that they now not only fabricate and finish parts for customers, but also offer automation and robotics solutions to customers to help them do it themselves.

“We provide proven solutions that are used on our manufacturing floor,” said Derek. “We are able to meet customers where they are and help them. We understand manufactures needs because we are a manufacturer like them.”

When it comes to automation, DeGeest has brought a new way to program robots to the finishing industry in North American by opening Lesta USA. These finishing robots are built for industrial painting and finishing applications and are only available through DeGeest. The self-learning technology used by these robots is utilized in other parts of the world but was not certified in the United States until DeGeest spent a year going through the approval process. This new technology mirrors the movement of the painter for easy programming and is allowing existing employees to do more with what they have.

“Robotics does not take your job, it enhances your job,” noted Derek.

“The addition of automation allows a business to expand the amount of work they do. You take a position and make it next level and turn a job into a career,” said Brad Ruppert, Director of Automation.

A unique automation concept that DeGeest has implemented is in their welding department. The business has partnered with a company in Austria and has created a first of its kind software that allows a senior welder to weld, all while recording their specific welding settings.

“This allows the experience of a seasoned welder to pass to an entry level welder so we can grow our welding workforce quicker. It gives peace of mind that the part settings are already there. What’s really exciting is that all of our senior welders’ experience is creating a weld databank for welders all over the world and creating a legacy,” said Derek proudly.

DeGeest isn’t stopping there though on collaboration. They also have created a partnership with area school districts. DeGeest is passionate about working with kids of all ages to showcase what manufacturing technology is available today.

“There are so many career paths from welding to programming to accounting to machining to purchasing to engineering. Getting exposed to it all at any level is so important,” Derek said. “And we want to show them that.”

Derek explained that economic development is very important to companies like DeGeest.

“Companies need to attract people to the area to continue to grow,” he concluded. “South Dakota offers a great competitive advantage than some of our competition. The cost of living is less here. We are a very pro-business, pro-growth state.”

South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development

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