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FEATURE STORY: Twin City Fan: A Big ‘Fan’ of Manufacturing

Monday, October 2, 2017
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ABERDEEN, S.D. – “My best advice to someone who’s beginning the job search is to stay true to yourself, and know that there are many career options out there for your consideration.”

That’s what Paul Hopkins says is key for students, educators, school counselors and parents to keep in mind in terms of career opportunities in manufacturing. Hopkins is the operations manager for Twin City Fan Companies (TCF) in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He moved to South Dakota from Milwaukee in 2014 and served three years as the plant manager at Regal Beloit before accepting the operations manager position at TCF in January of this year.

“With my engineering degree in tow, I left the United States Air Force in 1990 and accepted a product manager position back home. Since then I’ve worked my way through several different manufacturing companies, and over the years I’ve learned the reason I think so many people enjoy a career in manufacturing is because you can go home every day feeling accomplished. There’s pride in that—knowing that you made something tangible and useful and that’s fulfilling to me.”

TCF, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a leading designer and manufacturer of high quality custom and heavy duty industrial fans. One look at its product line and it’s evident the breadth of products span across many different industries.

“We’re heavy in the energy field, but you can also find our fans in sports stadiums, universities and large corporate buildings, too. And we have unique customers, like ski resorts that use our blowers in snow-making equipment, as well. Our products are even present in the Winter Olympics,” Hopkins said. “It gives us a competitive edge we can be really proud of.”

TCF in Aberdeen employs more than 250 people and is one of the community’s most significant employers. The company also has locations in Brookings, Elkton, Mitchell and Sioux Falls—all of which are currently hiring.

“We’ve actually seen a lot of growth in our Aberdeen facility this year,” Hopkins said. “Since January, we’ve hired about 50 people and have seen a 25 percent increase in welders. We invest in our employees with training programs for quick career advancement. We’re reaching out to regional high schools and tech schools so we can begin to fulfill our high demand jobs. We keep growing and we keep pushing and with enough buy-in, manufacturing can once again be touted as a favorable career choice.”

Hopkins adds that South Dakota’s tech schools continue to prove valuable for students and prospective employers alike.

“Take two of South Dakota’s largest tech schools for example—LATI in Watertown and MTI in Mitchell. Both schools were recognized earlier this year as outstanding tech schools by the Aspen Institute. For not one, but two schools in South Dakota to be recognized by a prestigious organization like the Aspen Institute on the quality of programs, the affordability and the career placement—something like 99 percent out of both of those schools—that cannot be ignored,” Hopkins said excitedly. “That just goes to show that the proof is in the pudding, so-to-speak. We have the smarts, we have the talent and we have the jobs.”

That’s why Hopkins says South Dakota Manufacturing Week is crucial for businesses to get in front students early on—they’re the future of workforce after all.

“We as professionals have a responsibility for sharing with our young people the potential of this industry. It’s more than just welding—it’s robotics, 3D-printing and technical engineering. It’s more than a job. It’s a career and it’s a lifestyle—a fulfilling one, at that."

For more information about TCF and the available careers, go to www.twincityfan.com/careers.


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Media Contact

Members of the media requesting more information should contact Natalie Likness at natalie.likness@sdreadytowork.com or (605) 773-GOED (4633).