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FEATURE: Amid Crises, Two South Dakota Manufacturing Companies Answer the Call

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Emergencies. It seems like lately our newsfeed has been inundated with reports of emergencies happening around the globe. From natural and environmental disasters to civil disturbances, there are many parts of our world that are under extreme duress these days.

But through it all and in times of need and tragedy, emergency response crews answer the call, and it may surprise you that many of those emergency responders have ties to South Dakota.

That’s right. Tucked away in two small eastern South Dakota communities are two manufacturing companies that produce fire engines, pumpers, aerials, tankers and more.

Rosenbauer South Dakota is located in Lyons, S.D. – population 60. The company’s combined footprint of 177,500 square feet of state-of-the-art manufacturing Rosenbauer.JPGspace sprawls across 21 acres of land in 10 different buildings. What makes this company particularly interesting is that it employs more than 300 people who assemble a variety of fire apparatuses, or fire trucks, for an estimated 700 vehicles per year.

“It’s actually quite remarkable the number of finished products that leave our facility. Our trucks virtually cover every corner of the globe. From right here in South Dakota, to Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala and Palestine, if there’s a red ‘R’ on the front of the truck, it’s one of ours,” said Scott Oyen, CEO of Rosenbauer South Dakota. “It’s very rewarding to know that our products help people every single day.”

But what makes this particular corner of our world exceptionally unique is that down the road less than 25 miles away in Brandon, S.D., is one of Rosenbauer’s competitors.
Spartan ERV, headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, employs almost 200 full-time workers in Brandon. Just like in Lyons, Spartan’s manufacturing crews assemble emergency response vehicles such as pumpers, aerials, tankers and wildland trucks that are shipped across the globe.

“Our products are present in the United States in almost all 50 states, Canada, China, Chile, Peru and Brazil,” said Daryl Adams, president and CEO of Spartan Motors, Inc. “In our Michigan campus, we also produce other emergency response vehicles, as well as non-emergency vehicles, too. Spartan is very integrated and we’ve seen tremendous growth, especially in the last several years.”

Between Rosenbauer and Spartan, there’s no denying South Dakota’s impact on emergency assistance goes beyond the average call of duty. At Rosenbauer, Oyen says several employees serve as volunteer firefighters, so their work hits close to home.

“There’s a sense of ownership in their work because they know the value of an emergency response vehicle in an emergency situation,” Oyen said. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have the people we have working for us.”

And although Oyen says the company keeps up with production as best they can, he admits they’re experiencing the same workforce shortage many manufacturing companies across the nation are facing, too. Something Adams says he knows all too well.

“I think it simply boils down to a lack of involvement and understanding from a public perspective,” Adams said. “Manufacturing has almost completely moved away from the so-called ‘dark ages’ to where it is today. Now our employees are working on computers and robots and applying engineering principles on the manufacturing floor. We need to take a more proactive approach to getting our kids and educators in the doors of manufacturing companies, because at the end of the day, I really believe manufacturing is the lifeblood of our country’s economy. Without it, we’ll crumble.”

Both Rosenbauer and Spartan are currently hiring for a variety of positions in the South Dakota campuses. Interested applicants can go to and to view available jobs.

To find ways you can get involved in South Dakota Manufacturing Week, go to or contact Natalie Likness, media relations coordinator, South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, at


Media Contact

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