Ground Force Manufacturing is one of North Idaho’s best success stories. It was born when President and CEO Ron Nilson bought a failing company in Post Falls, Idaho at the end of 2000. The company was near bankruptcy; Nilson saved 20 jobs when he purchased it and it wasn’t long before he had turned things around. The manufacturer of mining and construction support equipment is in the process of expanding to a total of 265 employees.
In this case, it was Nilson and his wife who did the relocating. They thought they could run it from their home in Seattle, Washington, but Nilson said the more they were exposed to north Idaho’s economic climate, quality of life, and astounding beauty, they knew they wanted to move. They have quickly become intricately involved in the Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls community, both socially and economically, so well known that they can’t go anywhere without being enthusiastically pat on the back.
Nilson has a choice; he could be in England, for example, where the company has 15 employees. They could be almost anywhere in the world; Ground Force provides equipment and services in more than 40 countries, and counting.
“Today 75 percent of our sales are overseas and none of these sales are in Idaho. We could have built our products anywhere in the USA, or the world,” Nilson told Jobs Plus.
Ground Force could certainly afford to. Sales volumes overall in the last decade have laughed in the face of recession, growing 500 percent. So why did Nilson come to North Idaho, and why does he stay?
“We continue to stay in Idaho for the quality of the people and workforce, the low operations costs -utilities, workers’ compensation and other taxes, etcetera. We’re close to an airport and freeways, so it’s easy to move our people and products,” Nilson replied. “And oh yeah, this is a great place to live, work and play! It’s just so beautiful.”
Nilson adds that people in north Idaho “know how to work.” As a business owner comparing experiences from different states, his impression of Idaho government is that it “truly wants to help (businesses).” He calls his family’s decision to move to the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls area one of the best decisions of their lives.