Vineburg Machining projects growth spurt

Founder Gerd Poppinga, left, and general manager Sven Klatt at Vineburg Machining earlier this week.

Founder Gerd Poppinga, left, and general manager Sven Klatt at Vineburg Machining earlier this week.

Vineburg Machining Inc. recently moved to new and larger digs, has purchased top-flight equipment and projects that 20 percent output gains are in the offing.

The closely held corporation, which has a Carson City address at 26 Stoke Drive in a Mound House industrial park, moved into a plant of nearly 19,000 square feet there, leaving behind a 12,500-square-foot facility a couple of blocks away on Brown Drive. The firm, founded by President and CEO Gerd Poppinga, has 32 employees along with the expensive milling equipment.

“The people who work here have an opportunity to learn state-of-the-art machining,” said the founder. The comment came during an interview with him; Sven Klatt, Vineburg’s general manager; and Poppinga’s son, also named Gerd, Vineburg’s vice president. The elder Poppinga and Klatt said it is difficult to predict gains, but Klatt ventured the 20 percent projection.

“We’re going to grow,” the founder agreed, “by output.”

The trio recounted the firm’s history, saying it reached nearly 100 workers in 1999 while still in California. But then it fell on tough times, dropping to 40 workers in 2003. The decision to move to Nevada was made late that year, and 17 made the trek to join in the permanent relocation to the Carson City area.

The firm immediately hired five, but the economy tightened and Vineburg’s crew dropped to a dozen in about 2005-06.

Now back to more than 30 employees, the company makes an array of parts and products using the new machinery.

“It enhances quality drastically,” said Klatt, who joined the firm when he moved to the United States from Germany in 1998. He said that when he arrived, he didn’t speak English.

He made a connection then with the Vineburg founder through a mutual acquaintance in part because Poppinga, who previously emigrated from Germany, had gone to the same machining apprenticeship school in Oldenburg 30 years earlier than Klatt. Oldenburg is in northern Germany.

The firm’s vice president, meanwhile, said Vineburg made it through difficult times that preceded recent gains by doing machining for medical needs and commercial locks. He and his father particularly focused on the commercial lock market as a savior during the downturn years.

“The worldwide scope of it has helped,” said the younger Poppinga.

Klatt said perhaps $2 million worth of the best machining equipment purchased the past three years.

In addition to putting in many hours at the plant, Klatt teaches at Western Nevada College, a role that in part stems from one of the industry’s dicey problems. Vineburg’s founder chimed in, saying the lack of a trained work force for machining and manufacturing can be a problem nationwide.


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