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Feb. 10, 2020
This paid piece is sponsored by the Lincoln County Economic Development Association.
The future of Sioux Steel Co. will center on Lennox, the growing Lincoln County community of more than 2,100 where the Sioux Falls-based manufacturer has had a presence for years.
The manufacturer gradually is moving portions of its downtown Sioux Falls operation to Lennox, with the goal of being significantly transitioned by this time next year.
“We took a long time to study our options,” CEO Scott Rysdon said. “And we had our eye on one piece of property in Lennox for probably seven years that just would really wrap up our campus, and it just happened that we were able to acquire it.”
The move will allow Sioux Steel to base about 160 employees in Lennox spread across multiple buildings.
“We like the availability of the workforce down there. They’re really hardworking, diligent employees. Not to say that people in Sioux Falls aren’t, but here we are picking up people from Parker and Hurley and Marion and Volin who have a strong ag background and maybe wouldn’t want to commute to Sioux Falls,” Rysdon said.
“We also have people going down to work there from Sioux Falls, so that’s been significant, and we’re doing the best we can to accommodate for that.”
Sioux Steel will continue to maintain its office and receiving building in downtown Sioux Falls for the foreseeable future but will transition as redevelopment enters its next phase there. The recently approved development plan for a hotel and conference center, parking ramp and mixed-use nine-story building does not include those Sioux Steel buildings.
“We’ll only have a handful of people in Sioux Falls until such time as the second phase happens,” Rysdon said.
Sioux Steel has done business in Lennox since 1976 and gradually grown its operation there. The fourth-generation family business manufactures grain bins, buildings, livestock equipment, paddle sweeps and garden beds.
“In a year, all our manufacturing here will be done in Lennox,” Rysdon said.
“This was the last piece inside this campus that we wanted to finish. Our next building will be the largest tension membrane structure we’ve ever built at 200 feet wide and, as far as I know, one of the largest in the country.”
It also will be significant for an even bigger reason. Named the Boyd Center, it honors Nancy Boyd, a longtime Sioux Steel employee who died of cancer recently.
For 20 years, Boyd set a standard as a welder at Sioux Steel.
“She carved out respect in our community in a fairly gritty male-dominated ag-manufacturing environment,” Rysdon said. “This is our way of showing respect to her.”
Boyd was a quiet force. You wouldn’t have noticed her in the workplace except for that she stood out as a woman in a room filled with men, he continued.
“I’m not sure I could put into words what Nancy did for that facility. You couldn’t pick out another female welder — or even a laborer — that stayed that long, that worked that hard, that made that much of a difference,” he said.
“And I don’t think in a lot of ways that it was easy to recognize that … she was like a hero that didn’t want to be noticed. There was a wonder woman right inside of us (at Sioux Steel), the wonder woman with the humility not to stand up and shout about herself, just did her work and made sure it was done right.”
Boyd grew up on a farm outside Sioux Falls with no running water and a two-seater outhouse. She attended a one-room school and enlisted in the Army after high school.
“The only time I got into trouble was when I was playing in the band shell in Lennox with a tennis ball and racket,” she said in a memoir commissioned by Sioux Steel before her death. “And the cop told me I was ruining public property hitting the ball against the band shell.”
The single mother of four worked as a cook at a nursing home and then went to work at Koyker Manufacturing in Lennox, where she learned how to work water-testing hydraulic cylinders and eventually learned to weld and assemble cylinders.
She joined Sioux Steel more than two decades ago.
At Sioux Steel, “if you asked for a little help on this or that, there was never any problem at all. They were always there to pitch in,” she said. “They are a fantastic company to work for. I just wish I could have been there longer.”
Machinist Paul Kock worked alongside Boyd for the majority of her time at Sioux Steel. “Words cannot describe her,” Kock said. “She was amazing. Just for her to work in a place like this and be the only woman … not too many women could do that.”
At Sioux Steel, “we don’t have a glass ceiling,” Rysdon added. “I have two women on a team of five at the executive level and lots of them in the organization down to the factory. There are still women wearing capes trying to be great role models. They’re working hard to achieve something in a world that’s been dominated on the other side.”
And now, the kid who played tennis in the community band shell will have the newest building in Lennox named after her.
“And every woman – or man – who sees it can be reminded of the incredible example Nancy set for all of us,” Rysdon said. “This entire company was built on men and women like Nancy, people who became like family as they worked alongside our family. I think that’s another reason it feels like such a good fit to be in a community like Lennox. It’s going to be the right home for our next century in business.”
The future of Sioux Steel Co. will center on Lennox, where it will consolidate operations and honor one special employee with its newest building.