May Wes Manufacturing was founded in 1972 by Wesley Bruns and wife Mavis on their farm site near Gibbon Minnesota. Wesley was a farmer and an innovator. The initial farm products he developed were made of aluminum and galvanized steel and were the “Crop De-Viders” to guide grain into headers and the “Gravity Flow Hoppers” that folded out for unloading.
The Age of Plastics – The Original Poly People
Several years passed when Wesley discovered poly material and used it in his product solutions. His employees recalled him making trips with the pickup truck to the Twin Cities to purchase 4’ X 10’ sheet of Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) poly. On one occasion, his load of poly sheets took to the air on a busy interstate freeway, creating traffic havoc.
Wesley used shearing, cutting and bending processes with the poly material to produce poly skid shoes for grain headers. To this day, the poly skid shoes remain May Wes’s cornerstone product line.
In the mid 1980’s a new YAM CNC Mill was added. Longtime employee, Bill Templin, loaded the programs on the YAM. That year, the YAM enabled meeting the demand for 1800 sets of John Deere skid shoes for the 200 series head. This machine is still in use today. Bill eventually moved from production to a technical support role until he retired at the age of 75 in 2014.
May Wes became recognized as the innovator for applying poly material to the ag after-market industry.
The Original Stalk Stomper
In 1987, May Wes brought to market a solution to knock down tough corn stalks ahead of the combine tires called The STALK STOMPER. This, too, is one of the company’s cornerstone product lines and continues to be the leader in the industry.
Product Lines Developed
Over the first 25 years, May Wes developed and sold many ag-related product lines. Among them include:
Poly Tractor Fender Guards, 1985Wesley Walker, 3-wheeled riding units for weeding crops, 1987Poly 5th Wheel Covers Slide-N-Drive, 1989 (still available, now named Slick Plate)Moldboard Covers (still available) Power Stack, a hydraulic outlet, 1992Header Height Control, 1992Poly Blades, 1993 (still available)Poly Retractable Fingers, 1994 (still available)Grain Header Carts, 1994Cutting Boards, 1994 (still available)Poly Disc Scrapers, 1995Poly Row Crop Rolling Shields, 1995Sliding Planter Lids, 1995Poly Closing Wheels, 1996 (still available)Cash Catcher Corn Saver Shield, 1996Mega Shoes, 1996 (still available)May Wes back then
Jason Templin started working at May Wes in 1990, after school, to earn money for a snowmobile. Troy Martin was 18 years old when he joined May Wes in 1994. Both Jason and Troy are still with the company. They fondly speak of the days working in the Bruns farm buildings that facilitated the May Wes operations. In the 90’s there were about a dozen production staff and eight in the office. Wesley was a progressive boss and always wanted to take care of his employees, valuing their importance to the company. The 8-5 o’clock workplace had buzzers to manage breaks closely, however, when the work was done on Friday afternoons, the employees would wind-down and could be found enjoying some beer together under an over-trimmed lawn tree called the “May Wes Palm Tree”. The companies ‘family atmosphere’ of the early days has withstood the test of time and is felt yet today.
With the passing of Wesley, his sons, Mark and Steve Bruns, took over the business. In 1997 the business out grew the farm building and a new facility was built in Hutchinson Minnesota and operations moved there by October. This facility is still where May Wes operates. Compression molding presses were added and the gateway for more product development opportunities.
Turn of the Century, Ownership Change
In the summer of 2002, Tom Daggett was approached to be a contracted manager through a four month duration (July – October) after which time he could decide to purchase the business. Tom was able to pull the former staff together and fulfill the orders through those peak demand months. He recalls it was the strength of the staff that kept things going.
Daggett decided to acquire May Wes and formed Pride Solutions LLC with May Wes as one of several business divisions. Tom’s experience in manufacturing brought about some changes, including inventory management, process and capacity improvements, including the addition of a Komo CNC router in 2003, and organizational/strategic changes.
In the years that followed, many product lines were added and May Wes grew its sales and marketing presence. The company was an early adopter of the internet and ecommerce website.
The Quick Disconnect Stalk Stomper design was made available in 2011 and the stalk leveling concept was leveraged with Tractor Stalk Stompers. The popularity of these stalk leveling devices brought about the next design improvement and in three short years, the Quick Disconnect 2 was released.
May Wes’s products, customer base and market share steadily grew such that the volume of orders required implementation of an efficient business infrastructure and consistent practices. More space was provided with the addition of a large cold-storage facility and optimizing the production floor layout. The May Wes brand was well known and sought out.
The Next Generation of a Family Business
Tom Daggett’s son, Jack, at the age of 13, worked production during the summers through his college years. He acquired first-hand working knowledge of many production processes. It was a natural transition for Jack to take on the Operations Manager role in 2013 with guidance from his father, Tom. Jack helped bring about heightened planning process/Material Requirements Planning, engineered approach to specs/purchasing, controlled documentations and raised the standards for customer service.
Jack Daggett became Pride Solutions President in 2016 and has aspiration for May Wes’s continued growth in the Ag market through product extensions, team approach to new development, and strategic partnering.
Pride Solutions fosters the small company soul culture and appreciates employee dependability and longevity. The company encourages community involvement and well-being. Routine assembly work has been successfully outsourced to the West Central Industries, a local program that employs and develops disabled persons.
One can only imagine what May Wes will achieve at its 50th Anniversary in 2022.