Everything You Think You Know About American Manufacturing Is Wrong. Here’s Why
Chamber Photographer Ian Wagreich has spent the last few years working to capture the mood and movements of the unsung heroes of America’s industrial infrastructure.
When millions of children go back to school each September, the national conversation often surrounds the quality of their teachers and the content of the curriculum they’ll be studying. But there are plenty of other interesting education stories that are often overlooked.
For instance, it can be easy to forget about the people who operate behind the scenes in education. Though largely publicly funded, the United States education system relies heavily on the business world, with companies designing, manufacturing, and delivering any manner of products and supplies to schools across the U.S.
Among the independent firms that has built its reputation on creating high-quality products is DeBourgh, a Colorado-based company that manufactures and supplies lockers to, among other organizations, elementary, middle, and high schools. The U.S.-based manufacturer has long focused on engineering and design, and it actively works to reduce its environmental footprint both during the manufacturing process and at its 110,000-square-foot production facility.
Founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just after the turn of the 20th century when it was known as the “Berg Brothers,” provided a variety of light metal works services to local purveyors and heavy industry firms. The family-owned company began to specialize in creating lockers in the 1930s, when the University of Minnesota reached out and asked them to design a new locker system for the school.
After riding the post-World War II manufacturing boom that swept the U.S., the company eventually relocated its production hub to La Junta, Colorado, where it is still located.
We recently visited DeBourgh’s Colorado facility to check out their headquarters. The accompanying slideshow chronicles that visit, illustrating various parts of the company’s design, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes.