Marc Sikkink, of SCR Solutions, on growing a business and supporting others
Marc Sikkink is seeking solutions – the kind that can translate to millions of dollars through increased productivity, safety, and reliability. His company, SCR Solutions, a manufacturer of custom stainless steel food processing equipment, has seen a consistent 25 percent growth rate for four consecutive years and partners with major food manufacturers across the country.
The success of his customers returns as his company's success.
Now, Sikkink's facility is doubling in size pending a 10,000 square foot addition anticipated to wrap by the beginning of next year. He expects to add eight new jobs over the next three years, roughly doubling his staff as well. And the increased space means his business—which currently operates from both a Fergus Falls and a Weetown location—will now be housed under one roof.
"It allows us to scale up," Sikkink says. "In the same way that we're improving these things for our customers, we're improving for ourselves. Our safety's gonna go up, our productivity's gonna go up, our efficiency's gonna go up."
Not bad for a business he started six years ago in his garage.
Energy and Engineering
Sikkink spent 22 years in the food processing industry for a major Fortune 500 company before branching out on his own. He holds a bachelor of engineering degree in food and biomaterials engineering and spent years in conference rooms negotiating the design of food processing and handling equipment for national protein giant Hormel. The experience challenged his own assumptions and taught him to listen to all of the voices impacted by a project. It also taught him the importance of right-sized solutions, or what he calls value engineering and automation.
"It's great to automate everything, but not everything is worth being automated," Sikkink explains. He says that the companies he works with are seeking sweet spot solutions that provide the best return on investment. Nearly all of the equipment produced by SCR is custom designed and manufactured – but always with an eye for achieving the best value rather than building the flashiest gadget.
"At the end of the day," he says, "you get an incredibly reliable workhorse that can serve you many, many years and can deliver all the performance that you need without some of the extra stuff that can hurt you in the long run."
Recently, Sikkink's team worked with a bread stick and garlic bread manufacturing operation. The equipment and processes his teams created resulted in a 15 percent increase in productivity. It's a big number for the large- and medium-sized manufacturers SCR typically works with.
"Do you know what a 15 percent yield improvement means for a plant? That company loves us," Sikkink says. "Those projects were tremendous successes – [and] a lot of fun."
When Sikkink started the business six years ago, he did so in part because he was looking for ways to grow his career without leaving Fergus Falls, where he's lived since 2003. When the company outgrew his garage and later a rented workspace, Sikkink purchased the former Weetown Outpost on County Road 1.
He wondered then how he'd ever fill the new facility. Yet looking back, he can't believe it was ever large enough. He expects someday he'll feel the same about the upcoming expansion.
Every move SCR has made has been slow and deliberate. Sikkink cites the old adage that more companies die from indigestion than starvation. He's never rushed into growth. When initially considering this new expansion, he knew he was onto something but was troubled by the things he didn't know. He reached out to Greater Fergus Falls, and the organization plugged him in to a network of experts that advised on the best way forward.
"They helped me navigate the financial side, they helped me navigate the City side. [They] helped me find that network of folks that could move things ahead, and it's been wonderful," Sikkink says. "It's had a huge impact on the project."
As his staff grows and the business expands, Sikkink has big goals for the future. He's proud of the work his team does and says one of his favorite motivators is the opportunity to provide a comfortable lifestyle for the people he employs. He wants to build a company that's as great to work with as it is to work for—even the best there is—and says the dedicated efforts of his staff and resulting successes have made it easy to realize that goal.
And, maybe unexpectedly, he says the work he's doing with the food processing industry has helped keep him in touch with some of the strongest memories of his childhood.
"This business is a passion of mine. I always tie my engineering to my farming because those two are synonymous for me," Sikkink says. "I grew up farming; I love farming. This is a great way to continue that agricultural experience.
- R.C. Drews for Greater Fergus Falls
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