Akkerman in Brownsdale celebrates 40 years of businessPublished 11:00am Thursday, July 18, 2013
Nearly 60 people followed Maynard Akkerman in the scorching heat Wednesday afternoon to get a glimpse of some unique machinery and celebrate 40 years of local industry.
Akkerman, a pipe jacking and tunneling equipment manufacturer in Brownsdale, invited local officials and business people to its ever-evolving facility to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary and demonstrate why it has experienced continued success.
President Maynard Akkerman, son of company founders Don and Marlys Akkerman, led the group across a steamy parking lot and into a giant metal building where his employees build several machines used for precise drilling.
“These machines get a bit involved,” Maynard said while pointing to the inside of a microtunneling machine, which resembled a pod from outer space. “They’re not something we can just hire a technician and just expect to start building.”
A few steps away, Maynard showed the group a computer with software programs all developed by Akkerman and used to manufacture their tunneling equipment.
“That’s something that sets us apart, I think,” Maynard said.
Outside, a pipe jack sits in a large hole in the ground. The machine is a demo unit that allows potential customers to see heavy machinery at work. A demonstration will be held today.
But why invite so many people to tour a manufacturing facility? Ask Maynard, and he says it’s about public awareness. He wants people to recognize the company has a strong hold in its industry. Moreover, he wants people to know the company is part of the local economy.
“You can get jobs here,” Maynard said. “You can get good jobs here.”
Akkerman employs plenty of people with engineering backgrounds and manufacturing skills. Though some drilling machinery of decades ago may look quite similar to today’s, the technology and safety standards go much further. What Don Akkerman started as a utility contracting business in 1954 turned into Akkerman in 1963. The company continues to evolve. There are more buildings, more manufacturing equipment and more patents. According to Maynard, Akkerman remains the only company in North America producing remote-control microtunneling machines. Today, the company employs 55 people in Brownsdale and several others at different locations working in sales. Thus far, its machines have completed jobs in 17 countries.