Ermak’s Professor — Jeff Erickson
At the age of 10, Jeff started working at his father’s machine shop and foundry. He was so short that he had to stand on a wood pallet to operate the turret lathe in the machine shop and in the foundry he knocked out cores for 10 cents an hour. He spent his earnings on hot beef sandwiches at the Chaska Diner for lunch.
Jeff went on to study engineering and metallurgy at the University of Minnesota. After college he returned to work at the machine shop and 10 years later he was in charge of both the machine shop and foundry. In 1994 Jeff bought both businesses from his father, Norty.
In 1944, Norty started “Machine Products” in his garage while working for Honeywell. A few years later Norty left Honeywell and worked full-time at the machine shop. In 1957 he purchased a small foundry with the dream of combining the two businesses to provide customers a one-stop-shop. In 2004 that dream was realized when Jeff merged the companies under one roof.
In 2017, Jeff and his wife Sue (an integral part of keeping Ermak running all these years and making it what it is today), sold the business to Reg and his wife Melissa. While their intention is to be around for many years to help serve customers and mentor the next generation, they wanted more flexibility with their time. Jeff and Sue are slowly easing their way into retirement to spend more time enjoying their other true love, boats. As Jeff says, “selling this business was like selling it to my son and I can’t just walk away from something I have loved doing the last 50+ years”.
When Jeff isn’t helping at Ermak or enjoying his boat, he loves educating people about the industry. Customers refer to him with terms of endearment such as “the professor”. He has worked hard to provide hands-on learning for young people through educational sponsorships at high schools and colleges. His enthusiasm is endless and he will undoubtedly be around Ermak for many years to come.
Ermak’s President – Reg Zeller
From the time he was young, Reg loved building stuff, especially in the sand. In fact, the first time he toured the foundry and machine shop he said “this is fantastic, it’s just a giant version of the sand box I had as a kid, except with bobcats and milling machines rather than Tonka trucks and Legos”.
Reg first caught the small business bug while in high school, working for a local small business owner. He then opened a side-business doing landscape and construction work with a high school friend, which he did until he left for the Milwaukee School of Engineering where he earned a BS in Electrical Engineering.
Over the next 17 years, Reg worked for Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Schneider Electric/Square D, and most recently, General Electric, where he managed their Flow Goods and Software business. Reg has experience working in a number of functions, including business management, product management, marketing, strategy, business development, supply chain, and sourcing. His business experience ranges from brand-new, incubated start-ups to 100+ year old product lines that earned hundreds of millions in sales each year. While the majority of his professional experiences were with Fortune 500 companies, Reg always dreamed of owning his own business - where he could work closely with customers, partners and a great staff to build something special. He spent years educating himself on what it would take to be successful in that venture, and along the way, earned his MBA from Vanderbilt.
Reg’s dream was realized in early 2017 when he purchased Ermak Foundry and Machining, a high-quality foundry/machine shop that focuses on timely deliveries and doing whatever it takes to keep customers happy. Reg was drawn to Ermak by the company’s great reputation, Jeff and Sue Erickson’s experience, stewardship and kindness, and of course, the sand. Reg could see right away that Ermak’s values aligned with his own. Now he is taking his experience and drive, and applying it to pour castings and machine products, with an added focus on partnering with his customers wherever they need help, from prototype development to strategic planning, to how to sell via channels or develop marketing collateral.