From Manufacturing to Distribution, Sharrow Does It All

Fri June 20, 2014 - Midwest Edition
CEG

Sharrow Lifting Products’s storage warehouse area.
Sharrow Lifting Products’s storage warehouse area.
Sharrow Lifting Products’s storage warehouse area. The safety and product seminar and training room. Safety and product seminar coordinators Xavier Gutierrez (L) and Jim Lonsky. The Sharrow sewing facility where the company manufactures straps, harnesses and rigging. Front of main facility.


Sharrow Lifting Products of New Brighton, Minn., has come a long way since its inception in 1952 to the successful company that is it now.

The company was originally named C.C. Sharrow Company after founder Clarence Charles “Shorty” Sharrow. Over the course of the next three decades, Sharrow’s sons, Clarence, Larry and Bob, joined the business before eventually taking ownership in the early 1970s. Under family ownership, the company maintained as a solid but stable business operation for the next 20 years.

With an eye towards retirement, the Sharrow brothers began developing an ownership transition strategy in the early 1990s that involved an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). With the plan set into motion, the ownership and management transition went smoothly as employees quickly gained equity in the company.

Under a new management team staffed by employees with extensive experience and an intimate knowledge of the company’s operations, Sharrow Lifting Products has grown three-fold since 1994. Within that time, the company has added new lines of business and two additional branch locations.

“We are not much for singling out any specific employees, but I would be quick to say that our employee base, as a whole, is the best group of people we have had in our long company history and the largest reason for our success and optimism for the future,” said current president Bob Downs.

Sharrow Lifting Products’s current lines include a range of heavy duty lifting products, such as custom made slings and associated rigging hardware and fixtures. The company also has a crane and hoist line where it designs, installs, inspects and services all brands of overhead cranes and all brands of electric and manual hoists. Sharrow also has a training division offering classes for customers based on many industry related topics.

In addition, Sharrow rents a full line of electric and manual hoists, trolleys and a line of hydraulic equipment. “Our largest sale was a few years back when we landed the order for the cable assemblies that operate the retractable roof at the Arizona Cardinal stadium in Phoenix. This was our most famous job to date,” said Downs.

The New Brighton facility has 31,000 sq. ft. (2,880 sq m) under roof including a full sized training room. The Hibbing, Minn., facility has 4,500 sq. ft. (418 sq m).

Sharrows sales staff and technicians receive ongoing specialized training from both vendors and industry specialists. Sharrow also offers a wide variety of industry specific training courses for its customer base. In addition, there are standard classes and also customizable classes offered year round.

Sharrow products have no specific life span, as it is a function of the care and use they are subjected to. Sharrow is a job shop, so some common slings and rigging hardware are always available for walk-in customers, but most slings are custom built as ordered and turned around in either hours or a few days depending on the workload.

After 62 years in business, the future for Sharrow still looks very bright. The employee owners are committed to increasing both their size and efficiency. As they fine tune their processes, it will give Sharrow the proper basis to continue to open additional branches across the area and beyond, according to Downs.

“The largest challenge in the past and into the future has always been finding quality people that ’get it,’ Downs added. “We seek employees that are committed to the goal of many — knowing that their commitment to the whole will in turn give them what they need for themselves and their families. That, in essence, is what employee ownership is all about, and what our success is based on.”