On Monday, crowds of people gathered at Prairie View Industries (PVI) to help the local business celebrate 25 years of success with an open house.
John Waldrep, President of Sales and Marketing at PVI, explained that this open house was a way for the members of the community to see what goes on at PVI and how the business has evolved over the years. The event featured a free lunch, a live broadcast from Ol’ Red 99.5 and tons of free items for those who attended.
“The turnout is kind of where we expected,” said Waldrep. “We expected that there would be a lot of people show up to this. I think that a lot of people, though we’ve been in town for quite some time, unless they come up and do a walk-through tour, I don’t think they understand the scope of what we’re doing here. So, we welcome people to come up. We give tours here regularly to any group that calls and wants to do a tour. This just opens it up for the whole community, and we think that’s a good thing.”
This family-owned company, which began in Prairie View, Kan., relocated to Fairbury in 1994. Waldrep noted that when the company relocated, there were only four employees. Since that time, the company has grown, and it now employs roughly 110 people.
“It’s grown tremendously since 1994,” Waldrep said. “A big part of that was the move to Fairbury, because it made everything better as far as finding employees, logistics for trucking and travel for doing our trade shows. It was the right move at the right time.”
PVI began by making access ramps for the physically disabled. Waldrep explained that those ramps are distributed world wide. The company also manufactures food service equipment, as well as recreational materials.
All of the materials used at PVI are made in the United States, which Waldrep emphasized is an important focus for the company.
“All of our products are made here in the United States. We’re dedicated to keeping our product line in the United States,” said Waldrep. “We currently import nothing from any foreign countries. In order for something to be used here, it has to be a domestic product, made here in the United States. We’re all about the USA.”
Waldrep emphasized that it is important for the company to focus on making it’s products in the United States because it’s what keeps the community alive.
“More and more manufacturing is moving out of the United States, so it’s important for us to change that trend,” Waldrep said. “It’s fantastic that we can keep these products in the United States. With access ramps especially, people need them to be a dependable product. That helps us drive home USA made because it has to be safe, and people have to feel secure with the product, where a lot of imported stuff is not going to give you that feeling.”
PVI is a family-owned company, Waldrep explained; however, that sense of family extends to all of the people employed at PVI.
“Currently, there’s three generations here,” said Waldrep. “I don’t think the dynamic here is as difficult as people think. We’re here to do a job, and our focus is the 100 non-family members who are depending on us. We have to keep it going for them.”