Growing Manufacturing on the Iron Range with Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions

Samantha Erkkila, Digital Media Specialist

November 10, 2022

Jason Wobbema, owner of Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions in Hibbing, Minnesota

Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions (AMGS) based in Hibbing, Minnesota, specializes in steel perimeter guarding for machines and robotics. Iron Range native, Jason Wobbema is on a mission to grow his business and diversify the Iron Range while supporting the local steel industry.

Wobbema has decades of experience in robotics and automation. His work has provided him with opportunities to fly to locations worldwide to work in those fields. However, he was always interested in investing his knowledge in his community.

“When I started this company, I wanted to diversify the industry supporting the Iron Range by using U.S. Steel, but also diversifying it so that our economy outreaches just the Iron Range, and it goes throughout North America as our customer base,” said Wobbema. “We focus on end users and machine builders that want to protect their employees from dangerous machines.”

Growing his business from the ground up

When Wobbema approached the Entrepreneur Fund, he had a business plan, but he needed support with cash flow projections and connections with additional funding opportunities.

EFund business loan officer Aaron Baudeck said these needs are common for many entrepreneurs.

“Every entrepreneur that we work with is unique but one thing that they typically will need at the very beginning is advising. And that's one thing that we're very strong with,” said Baudeck.

For Wobbema, it took a team of local organizations to get AMGS off the ground. His team included the City of Hibbing, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), Park State Bank, and our other economic development partners throughout the region. The Entrepreneur Fund was able to assist in making these connections.

“Because of our partners, we've been able to take this project from his dream to a reality, not only by strengthening our community, but strengthening our region as a whole, and in time continue to build globally,” said Baudeck.

In your community, part of the community

The Entrepreneur Fund has business advisors located throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. We are invested in the communities we serve. Our teams know their clients well and want to see them succeed.

“It's been a pleasure working with Aaron (Baudeck). He’s from this area and he's got a personal investment into this town,” said Wobbema. “This relationship that we have, he wants to see us succeed and his advice has been really spot on with what we need to grow as a company.”

The feeling is mutual. Baudeck said that when he first met Wobbema he was excited to work with him because he “saw his spirit” and what he wanted to create on the Iron Range.

“Because of that, we noticed that, from the beginning, we had the same common goals,” said Baudeck. “He wanted to build his company, he wanted to work hard, and we wanted to match that and do it with him.”

Future of AMGS and manufacturing on the Iron Range

After being in business for roughly two years, Wobbema has seen demand for his product outpace what AMGS can manufacture in its current space and with its current equipment.

“Robotic sales and machine sales have gone up by 20-30%, every year for the last five years,” said Wobbema. “And even though our product isn't considered high tech, our product goes around all of these types of robots and machines.”

In the next 3-5 years, AMGS hopes to continue to grow by adding more employees and more equipment and possibly a new building to satisfy their customers’ needs. He also wants to work with local organizations, schools, and technical colleges to continue to develop manufacturing skills so people can stay in the area and have a place to work. Something he didn’t have access to when he first started his career.

“When I started this business, on the Iron Range, I wanted to prove that we can manufacture a product and compete globally, right here in northern Minnesota,” said Wobbema, who surpassed his goal of half a million dollars in gross revenue in his first year and is projected to have 4-5 times the growth in the next couple of years. “We're providing that today and having the Entrepreneur Fund help us with what our needs are is extremely important.”

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