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Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing expands to Texas

After several years of planning, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing is slated to open a new facility in Texas in December. We speak with President of Operations Erika Bauer to find out more.

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KMM's president of marketing & corporate strategy and senior vice president of business development are currently in Kerrville, Texas, recruiting new employees and preparing to open up shop on December 6, 2021. (Contributed photo / Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing)

Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing (KMM), one of the largest employers in southwestern North Dakota, will soon expand its operations south to Texas.

The temporary facility will open Dec. 6 in Kerrville, Texas, which is located 66 miles northwest of San Antonio and has a population of approximately 24,000 people. The building has 9,000-square feet of production and 10,000-square feet of warehouse and office space. Construction for the permanent facility will be finalized in the fall of 2022 with an official move-in in December of 2022, KMM President of Operations Erika Bauer said.

“This has been in the works for a couple of years. Obviously COVID extended our timeline a little bit,” Bauer said.

The permanent facility will total to 44,000-square feet, costing $5 million — which includes purchase and renovation.

The temporary plant will kickstart operations in December with the production of wire harnesses for the Boeing 737 commercial airplane — in which Bauer said she sees strong potential growth as it is one of their best sellers. KMM has enjoyed a long relationship with Boeing, on both commercial and military aircraft, she said.

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Some of the other planes they work on include the Boeing 777, as well as military aircraft such as the Boeing P-8, F-15 and the Lockheed U-2.

"We have a lot of different platforms that we get to work on. It's a very fun business," Bauer said.

The Killdeer facility assembles computer circuit cards that control various parts of an aircraft such as the ignition, brakes, lighting and electronics for Air Force weaponry.

“We do have some pretty high profile programs that we work on in North Dakota,” she said.

The company has ambitious targets for 2022, Bauer said.

“By the beginning of next year, 2022, we’ll be building (equipment for) about 31 aircraft per month. Then we’re eventually going to increase to 52 aircraft per month,” Bauer said, adding that this work will be shared between the Dickinson and Texas locations.

Bauer said KMM has noticed an expansion of its customer base in Southern states such as Texas.

“We really just saw, you know, an obvious opportunity for us to go there, get close to those customers who are expanding,” she said. “North Dakota and Texas share a lot of the same values, a lot of the same culture. So it just really seemed like a good fit and a good way to bolster our business in North Dakota, and also expand out to different areas of the country to be closer to our customers.”

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However, KMM isn’t just hiring for its Texas plant. Bauer said with the labor market being as tight as it is, they’re also hiring in North Dakota. Openings include positions in engineering, production, leadership and entry level business contracting.

“We’re always looking for talented people and we’re always growing. It’s a very exciting career and a very rewarding place to work,” Bauer said, adding that she’s been with the company for 11 years.

Being a somewhat niche producer, Bauer said KMM is used to wrestling supply chain issues.

“Globally, the supply chain is fraying right now and we've certainly seen it with our suppliers too. We've had lead times lengthening out, we've had cost changes that we're dealing with," Bauer said. “In our industry, that's nothing new. Because of the nature of our industry and needing the highest level of quality in our products, the supply chain is always tight. So it's nothing that we're not used to dealing with.”

The company was founded in 1987 by Don Hedger. KMM currently has three plants in North Dakota with its Dickinson location at the top, boasting 89,780-square feet and 274 employees. The Killdeer and Hettinger plants have 53 and 12 employees, respectively.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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