After a difficult 2020, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spread across North Dakota, many industries on the Western Edge struggled to maintain staff and employees, with layoffs mounting as the area economy faced added pressures amidst government mandated lockdowns.

Free falling oil prices only further exacerbated the economic woes on the Western Edge as layoffs and site closures across the Bakken affected many businesses and were reminiscent of the oil collapse of 2015.

As unemployment claims statewide continued to climb at unprecedented rates in 2020 — the local impacts felt in Dickinson by some of its largest employers forced difficult decisions.

Speaking to The Press in late March of 2020, co-president of Steffes, Paul Eidenschink, detailed the struggles.

“Absolutely the global virus pandemic combined with an oil price collapse have taken a toll on many companies, industries and families in particular,” Eidenschink said. “It’s absolutely something we are facing today. ... This week we did go through a layoff and were forced to rightsize operations to match the business levels we are seeing today and in the near term.”

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Eidenschink said that Steffes wouldn’t disclose the numbers of layoffs in 2020.

More than a year removed from the area's financial woes, an investment of $20.9 million into Cleveland County, N.C., will create 130 new, full-time jobs over the next five years in a market that the Dickinson based Steffes sees as an opportunity for growth. According to a press release, Steffes will start production in late 2021 at the new facility, with plans be fully operational by the first quarter of 2023.

Steffes believe that their plans to provide advanced comprehensive metal fabrication services to support production of Steffes OEM products and customer production in the region aligns with the company's vision for the future.

“This expansion is the realization of the company’s strategic vision,” Todd Mayer, co-president of Steffes, said. “The combination of customers and friends in this area combined with the workforce potential and community support made Shelby the best fit for us. We are excited to become part of the community and support innovation in the region.”

A Steffes employee, pictured above, works on machinery at the main location in Dickinson. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
A Steffes employee, pictured above, works on machinery at the main location in Dickinson. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Steffes is a privately held, diversified original equipment and contract manufacturer headquartered in Dickinson, with additional manufacturing and customer support facilities in Grand Forks; Midland, Texas; Casper, Wyo; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

One of the leading employers in Stark County, Steffes specializes in the design, manufacturing and service of energy technology products that support the extraction and processing and gas management of oil and gas; innovative product development and manufacturing of electric thermal storage and load management control technologies focused on the adoption of sustainable electricity distribution and storage to meet decarbonization goals; and steel fabrication, electrical services and engineering support for companies requiring prototype and manufacturing partners to support their business success.

"Through our customer-oriented culture and unwavering commitment to innovation, Steffes has successfully delivered products and services throughout North America and select locations in Europe for more than 50 years," Mayer said. "We have been recognized as one of North Dakota’s top employers for 6 straight years."