Larsen Manufacturing is proud to claim a three-generation legacy in manufacturing going back to 1946. In addition, we have been privileged to enjoy the loyalty of employees that have contributed to that legacy for decades. They have seen a company grow exponentially, an industry change immeasurably, and a family branch out globally.
Better known as “Sammy,” Samuel Rodriguez is noted for his hard work, and admired for his drive. An employee since 1976, he is presently a part of the Janitorial Staff. Sammy credits the Larsens for providing an encouraging environment that “boosts you on a bad day.” If he could relay any advice to newer employees, it would be to trust that everyone will watch your back and support you.
True to his nature, it’s unsurprising that when asked where he would be if he were not at Larsen, his response was, “Working, of course.” Sammy categorizes himself as a person always on the move with a drive for working. “If you have love and passion for work, that is an accomplishment, and I thank the Larsens for an opportunity to show them that [passion].”
As one of the longest tenured employees, he has seen the industry become more demanding and the pace increase as time advances. Like others, he did not expect Larsen Manufacturing to expand as big, or as fast, as it has. Sammy feels Leonard Larsen Sr. would be greatly impressed by the growth spearheaded by his grandsons. “The Larsens are consistent. They did what others couldn’t,” he said. “They understand business, approachability, and how to attract customers.”
Nick Kalties joined Larsen Manufacturing the year it opened. Starting as a Tool and Die Maker 24 years ago, he has progressed to the role of Tool Room Supervisor. Regarded as a dedicated hard-worker who is always on his feet, Nick ensures the Stamping Department presses run efficiently. His favorite part of the job is the challenge of solving problems. Echoing a sentiment felt throughout, he describes Larsen as “fast-paced and family-oriented.” Remarking on the changes observed in his near quarter-century in the industry, Nick voiced his concerns as manufacturing was outsourced in the 1990s, and when colleges eclipsed trade schools. He saw a generation gap created when young people chose Universities over Vocational Schools, or the work force. As the current generation of metal manufacturing retires, he sees a lack of qualified applicants to replace them. However, he remains optimistic and notices things are slowly starting to change. Believing Larsen to be on the verge of a new surge in growth, he attributes it to the Larsen brother’s vision and unwillingness to settle.
Alongside the Larsens since they told him they were starting their own company in 1986, Dale Gustum joined them as they built Larsen Manufacturing. “As time goes by,” he said, “less manufacturers survive. The tooling and equipment advances and companies fall behind.”
Dale has been in charge of maintenance for as long as he can remember. Currently serving as Director of Maintenance, he describes the environment as warm and family friendly. It’s his favorite aspect of the job. He loves getting to see families and their kids, and looks forward to training the younger generation of workers. Finding joy in teaching what he knows, he feels he would still be in the metal fabrication business had he never thrown in with the Larsens and their business endeavors. His advice to those who would have it; when an opportunity comes along, take advantage of it. If there is an opportunity to work, get to work!