Community members, elected officials and business leaders turned out July 11 to help Aggressive Hydraulics celebrate the recent opening of its new 60,000 square foot facility in East Bethel.
East Bethel Mayor Richard Lawrence and Councilmember Heidi Moegerle each said a few words to share their excitement over Aggressive Hydraulics’ opening, pointing out that this is an important first for what they hope will be many more ribbon-cutting ceremonies as additional businesses locate and develop in East Bethel’s business district.
Aggressive Hydraulics President Paul Johnson thanked community leaders and the city for their efforts to help make the new building a reality. Those efforts included the East Bethel City Council’s approval of the city’s first tax increment financing district last October, which enabled the business to begin construction while also supplying a significant boost in property values and city tax revenues.
According to Johnson, the new building would not have been possible without the city’s new water tower and sewer system. He also had high praise for Classic Construction and its owner Curt Strandlund, the contractor who managed the building’s construction, Johnson said.
Aggressive Hydraulics — whose customers are located nationwide — engineers, manufactures and repairs hydraulic cylinders for heavy equipment in the construction, mining and energy industries.
Moving into the new building the first week of June has finally allowed the business to consolidate all of its operations under one roof; the business was formerly housed in three smaller buildings in Blaine.
The spacious new manufacturing area is well lit, air-conditioned and fitted with numerous cranes that facilitate moving and working with heavy equipment, and it is designed for a potential future expansion of 40,000 square feet. The office and reception areas are bright and feature lots of windows and a clean, modern design. The new location also boasts a large, fenced-in back lot that is used for shipping, receiving, and storage.
The owners of Aggressive Hydraulics are Paul Johnson, David Johnson, Shane Vos, Wes Maack, Pat Roed, Steve Slanga and Dave Slanga. All of the owners, other than the Slanga brothers, worked at Hydraulic Cylinder manufacturer in Blaine back in the 1980s
That company was acquired two different times, said Paul Johnson. The most recent was in 2000 by a $10 billion publicly held corporation that “wanted to change culture and decided to terminate my employment two months after the 911 terror attacks,” he said. “Jobs were difficult to find at that time so I worked on starting Aggressive Hydraulics,” Johnson said.
Steve and Dave Slanga invested and became active in the start-up company, and shortly after that the other five (now owners) were also terminated from Hydraulic Cylinder and wanted to become part of Aggressive Hydraulics. Six months later, on July 5, 2002, Aggressive Hydraulics opened its doors.
The company rented its first 13,000 square-foot building. By the second year it rented another building across the street, which was also 13,000 feet. In the company’s third year Aggressive Hydraulics purchased the first building, which lowered its monthly payments and provided stability while building equity. In its sixth year, Aggressive Hydraulics bought a second building immediately next door to the first one.
“Our business focus has not really changed since we’ve started,” said Johnson. “We have enjoyed double-digit growth other than during the recession in 2009. Our charter is not to take existing business away from other cylinder companies, but to help business grow with new and better products. We do not have employee turnover, which helps us from having customer turnover.”
Aggressive Hydraulics currently employs 45 people and expects to add employees as the business continues to grow.