To say 2020 has been a rough year would probably be an understatement. It started off with a lot of fear, anxiety and uncertainty – which eventually morphed into a numbing feeling, knowing that we might be in this for the long haul. We are thankful that we were able to keep the doors open and lights on. I want to send a special thank you to our employees for sticking together during the past year and helping us get through 2020. We will be keeping all of those who lost a relative or friend in our thoughts.
2020 – Recap
Even though we had challenges to overcome, Alliance was able to continue operations. At the onset of COVID, we temporarily had to reduce our staff by approximately 40%. However, we ramped back up rather quickly to a full crew. In March we had a good backlog carrying us into the year, but when the announcement was made that we were in a pandemic, we were not quite sure what the impact would be. Many of our customers related to military and automotive immediately announced that their work was essential. With other customers, there was a great deal of uncertainty. When oil prices plummeted in April, projects related to gas and oil fell into a holding pattern. Eventually, things leveled out and the activity started to pick back up.
2021 – Looking Ahead
As far as our team is concerned, I think all are happy to be putting 2020 in the rearview mirror. We have several new initiatives that we are working on to expand the company in the new year. In February we will be unveiling our new Machine Testing and Demonstration Area. We have renovated an area in our second building to house a cross-section of machines available for customer viewing. We are excited to share the fact that we have two ILSA vacuum degreasing machines available for test and demo as well. These machines arrived from Italy in late December and will extend Alliance’s product offering to include safe cleaning with solvents and modified alcohols.
Over the course of the past six months, we have been developing our “FlexSafe” line of shopping cart sanitizing systems. Our past experiences working with product sanitization gave us the tools required to help in the fight against COVID-19. Through a collaborative effort of Dave vanZon (Engineering Manager), John Wehner (Plant Foreman) and their teams, we have developed a patent-pending system that will be unveiled in the upcoming weeks. We have production units released to manufacturing, so we will share more info soon.
At the tail end of 2020, we secured an order for a record-size machine. The system is a multi-stage belt washer which will stretch to 80’ long – so it will be an exciting machine to construct. The project will be on our floor through mid-2021, and we will share images at that time.
Our Roster is Growing!
I want to send a special welcome to the most recent additions to the Alliance team:
Mitch Swanson (Mechanical Engineer)
Mitch received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Mitch has many years’ experience in machine design and complex piping systems. In his free time, Mitch enjoys spending time with his four boys and their growing families. Mitch is an avid bicyclist and rides his bike to work on most days – in all seasons!
Spencer Sennhenn (Shipping/Receiving/Inventory)
Spencer comes to us from Fleet Farm, where he was their freight leader. A great deal of his experience is in freight and inventory handling. Spencer enjoys time with his three teens (2 girls and 1 boy). He is an avid sports junkie and loves watching all the local teams: Bucks, Badgers, Packers, and Brewers.
Dale Popp (Electrical/Mechanical Technician)
Dale has several years’ experience in machine assembly and specifically in parts cleaning equipment. While not working, Dale helps at a neighboring farm. Dale is also an EMT and drives ambulance for Kiel Fire and Rescue. While not working, Dale enjoys family time with the kids and grandkids.
Ben Pokorny (Mechanical Engineer, Co-Op)
Ben is a Junior attending Michigan Tech and working toward his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He enjoys running and camping, and expresses his love for music while playing his drums or keyboard. Ben is aspiring to work in the aerospace industry and ultimately seeks to land a position with NASA or Space-X.
Ben Dickenson (Mechanical Engineer)
Ben acquired his Bachelor of Science (Magna Cum Laude) Mechanical Engineering degree in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Ben is married and recently became a father to a baby boy. (Congratulations!) In his free time, Ben enjoys spending time with the family and creating/building electro-mechanical machines.
Jim Ray (Electrical Technician)
Jim has 14 years’ experience as a Master Electrician which includes installation of wiring and equipment in commercial, industrial, and residential settings. In his free time, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, including 7 kids and 8 grandkids. Jim is an avid motorcyclist and enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson with his wife. Jim is hoping to make it out to Sturgis in the next year or two.
Sandy Klingensmith (Mechanical Engineer)
Sandy received her Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado and went on to get her Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from UW-Milwaukee. Growing up in Colorado, Sandy grew to love camping and the great outdoors. She raised two boys and currently has two grandchildren. While not at work, Sandy loves to crochet and spend a lot of time in her vegetable and flower gardens.
We have a great group of people and we are all working to make 2021 a “SUITE” year.