Echo is a small town, but its economy just got bigger thanks to an expansion of C&L Powder Coating with help from small business micro-loans.
Chris and Lisa Borning started their powder coating business in their garage in 2009. In 2011 they bought their building in Echo and moved in with an 6-by-6-by-10-foot oven. Last October, they expanded with a larger oven - an 8-by-8-by-22 and a large spray paint booth.
Powder coating is a process where a fine powder compound is applied onto a surface electrostatically then cured in an oven. It is used in manufacturing when a hard finish tougher than paint is required, according to Chris Borning.
Photo by Steve Browne
Chris and Lisa Borning started their business in Chris’ father’s basement five years ago.
"We started as a hobby when my husband and I were dating," Lisa Borning said. "He raced four-wheelers and started doing his own parts. Then friends would ask him to do theirs."
The Bornings started their business with loan assistance from the Southwest Initiative. The first loans were used to pay for two semesters of business management courses. This came in handy while Lisa Borning processed the paperwork to get the business going over the next two years.
Now in addition to filling in for shop work, Lisa handles the books and management. With the current expansion they are up to two full-time and two part-time employees.
The current expansion was financed by micro-loans from SWI in Hutchinson, the Minnesota Valley Power Cooperative in Montevideo and the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission in Appleton.
"Our new oven is eight by eight by 22 feet," Chris Borning said. "So we can fit larger pieces in it and get smaller projects done faster. Right now we're working on a turkey loader for Marshall Machine Shop. They used to have to haul to Lake Lillian."
What this means for local manufacturers is that jobs that previously had to be sent quite a bit farther away can now be done locally. And a fair amount of business is being drawn into the area.
"We get a lot of business from Marshall," Chris Borning said, "but we're getting it from as far away as Rockford, Illinois, and a lot from St. Cloud."