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Falcon Plastics - Family business, worldwide success

What started as a small family business in 1975 has grown into a third-generation success for Falcon Plastics.

The company began when Don and Carol Bender moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Brookings, South Dakota to begin the creation of the company. Second-generation owner and CEO Jay Bender explained that his parents chose Brookings because of housing costs and wanting to be on the west side of the Minnesota border. He said that starting Falcon Plastics was a real entrepreneurship.

“It started on a shoestring. Three employees and five machines. And one was a parts machine that didn’t work,” Bender recalled.

As the business began to grow, Bender said he was glad his parents stayed in South Dakota.

“I am grateful to be where I am. South Dakota has been a really good state to be in,” he said.

Repeat business is something that Falcon Plastics strives to maintain. Bender explained that his parents planned to grow slowly and consistently, with the help of businesses that continued to support them. It was plain to see the plan worked. The business grew quickly, with a 50 percent sales increase over a couple of years. As the business continued to grow, so did locations. Today, Falcon Plastic has sites in Brookings and Madison, South Dakota; Lexington, Tennessee; Tigard, Oregon; and Suzhou, China.

Business continues to grow and change. The mission that began so many years ago, Bender said, has been a guiding light for him and his brother Guy, and now the next generation.

“If a customer isn’t committed to mutual success, it won’t work,” said Bender. “Having businesses be successful helps us all.”

Falcon Plastics is a huge supporter of economic development in the Brookings and Madison communities and Bender said the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has been very helpful to them.

He explained that South Dakota makes it easy to be in business and for people to start their own businesses because they want to see entrepreneurs succeed. Bender has taken advantage of the GOED’s Revolving Economic Development and Initiative (REDI) Loan program to help grow the business.

“Having tools and the state’s business climate,” said Bender about why business is better in South Dakota.

He said his greatest hope is that they can manage and control the business, make a fair profit, and invest in their employees, and the community for years to come.

Third generation Falcon Plastics president Jenn Barlund agrees. The Brookings native grew up with the family business in her blood.

From an operator to the janitor, to assembler, marketing coordinator, and much more, Barlund knew that Falcon was where she belonged. And so, in 2012, she began full-time with the company and is committed to leading the company into the next 40 years.

“I am excited that we are contributing in big ways to the economy,” she concluded.

South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development

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