New leadership of century-old Minnesota steel metalware manufacturer harnesses retailer and consumer interest in heritage products
How do you reimagine a 108-year-old company whose products are used by millions of people every day to capture the attention of retailers and consumers? Behrens Manufacturing recruited an experienced leadership team and empowered them to reimagine the brand; introduce innovative new products; and promote metalware’s attributes of quality, sustainability, circular design, durability and style.
Behrens, a more than a century-old Winona-based heritage brand, is the largest manufacturer of steel and metal containers in the U.S. and has achieved this longevity with one promise — use the best materials to create quality metalware that is built for now and made to last. Behrens is committed to manufacturing the majority of its products in the U.S. and all products are thoughtfully concepted, developed and distributed from a single facility on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Behrens Manufacturing is ready to leap to the next level — thanks to an infusion of capital, a new and experienced executive leadership team, a refreshed brand, new products and a focus on sustainability and emerging trends as consumers become increasingly concerned about the impact of plastics on people and the planet.
New, experienced leadership team
Mill City Capital, a Minneapolis-based private equity firm with a controlling interest in Behrens, provided the catalyst for these strategic changes by hiring Ron Hornbaker as president and CEO of Behrens last fall. A seasoned executive with an impressive record of leading and growing companies — including Rockler Companies, Golf Town, Golf Galaxy, Retail Minds and Sleep Number — Hornbaker was attracted to this well-established company that was poised for growth.
“I’m energized by Behrens’ relentless commitment to delivering high-quality, well-crafted products decade after decade. We need to shake off our humbleness and share our story. There’s a reason we’ve been around for 100-plus years. People need to know why,” said Hornbaker. “And when they do, we’ll be around for 100 more.”
Hornbaker began building his team in January, hiring long-time collaborator Pam Schechtman as vice president of marketing. The two previously partnered on bringing the Sleep Number brand to brick-and-mortar retail. He then tapped Dana Busch, vice president of sales, who previously worked with Hornbaker at Rockler Companies and Golf Galaxy. This team, together with an existing talented group of executives and operations personnel, many of whom have spent decades at the company, is ready to grow and expand Behrens Manufacturing.
Behrens reimagines brand, introduces line of new products
Behrens delivers daily on its promise to use the best materials to create quality, long-lasting and sustainable products. The new Behrens executive team, partnering with metal, décor and design experts, has updated the Behrens’ brand and logo, and launched a new website, labeling, and packaging that, along with its products, is now 100-percent recyclable.
In addition to the Behrens Metalware Classics™ line, which includes galvanized steel cans, tubs, bushel baskets, pails and specialty items that feature designs more than 100 years old, the company introduced a new handcrafted line of products, Behrens Metalware Home Industrials™, available in retail in late 2019. The Home Industrials™ line builds on the legacy of 108 years by designing classic home goods with the best materials to create metalware products that are simple, stylish and highly adaptable for endless use inside and outside the home. They are designed to deliver on the Behrens’ promise of high quality and durability.
Additionally, the team has positioned Behrens publicly on the front end of sustainability and circular design. While Behrens has always manufactured responsibly, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions while producing 100-percent recyclable products, the company has taken it to a new level, partnering with the nonprofit organization Metal Packaging Europe, making Behrens one of only a few U.S. manufacturers permitted to use the organization’s Metal Recycles Forever mark.
Behrens wants consumers and retailers to know that steel is one of the most sustainable products on the planet. With 70 percent of domestic steel starting as scrap metal, it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of inherent properties, is rodent proof, odor proof, and weather and chemical resistant with zero petroleum. All of these attributes make steel a superior material to plastic, a limited-recyclable material that is shown to harm wildlife, oceans and people.
Visit behrensmfg.com to learn more, including where to find a scrap metal recycler in your area.
Founded in 1911, Behrens Manufacturing creates high-quality, well-crafted metalware in Winona. From the past century to today, Behrens is forever forged into the fabric of U.S. manufacturing and remains a tribute to American ingenuity and craftsmanship. Behrens Manufacturing is proud to be the number-one steel container manufacturer in America. Visit behrensmfg.com to learn more.