The NDDC monthly board business visit for November was with Ashworth Factory Services. Ashworth is another small business based in downtown Northfield that has been quietly exporting products and/or services internationally.
Bryan Hobbs shared the Ashworth story with us. The company was founded in 2007, coming out of the old Northfield Freezing Systems. Name recognition was important to the company; Northfield has a reputation for quality.
The company creates systems to utilize conveyor belt technology, focusing on the after-market. They design on computers and implement on plant floors. Most of their customers are in the food industry.
Business has been good; during the economic downtown, Ashworth can offer customers improved production efficiencies. The company has grown from 3 to 9 employees in a very short period of time.
Bryan says that they really appreciate the quick and easy access to the airport. Although their customers are primarily located in North America, they are literally all over the world, with Asia becoming a growing market.
Ashworth employees appreciate their proximity to downtown. Bryan says they value the convenience of all the nearby amenities. The Northfield area, he says, offers businesses a great mix of a small town and a big city.
The company would like to expand, bringing the manufacture of some components in-house. They could potentially double their number of employees. They’ve been looking for expansion opportunities in Northfield, so far without success.
Bryan says that Northfield has a history of annexing land for industrial use and then zoning it as commercial. He says that this practice drives up the cost of land and often limits its use. He believes that Northfield’s challenge is less about quantity and more about zoning.
He hopes that Ashworth Factory Services can find industrial space to expand in Northfield. Right now, he’s plenty busy serving his customers.