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Local firm keeps rolling in River Falls

River Falls-based NCCM will soon leave its only home for the past 4 ½ years in the River Falls Industrial Center (old Kolpak building), 715 St. Croix St. The firm has evolved into a family-run management structure with, from left, Lew Niccum, in charge of business/finance; Lew's brother Cole, in charge of shipping and logistics; and their parents, Brent Niccum, CEO, and Julie Niccum, president.

When NCCM was forming in 2008, its owners were advised to locate a plant overseas where labor costs were cheap - Singapore, Vietnam, China.

But President Julie Niccum says a company core value was to keep manufacturing in America.

So startup NCCM - creators and makers of mill roll products used for wringing, oiling, tension and strip control by metal processors -- leased space in the River Falls Industrial Center just as the Great Recession began.

Next year the River Falls company was named Emerging Business of the Year in St. Croix County.

Today NCCM exports its products to 33 countries on every continent. Ironically, one of those countries -- a huge net exporter with abundant cheap labor -- is China.

"Only a very small percentage of U.S. products are sent to China, but we've shown that it can be done and that it makes economic sense," says NCCM CEO Brent Niccum, Julie's husband.

NCCM is about to take another big step by relocating and building a new $2.1 million facility in Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park of River Falls.

Groundbreaking for the two-story, 26,000 square-foot plant should occur next month.

Brent Niccum said office space in the new facility should open at the end of the year and manufacturing space by early 2014.

Brent and Julie say the new NCCM site in the corporate park will only be slightly larger than what the company now leases but there are other advantages:

--Office and production side by side rather than separate and on different floors.

--Higher ceiling space for more room; lots of windows to let in natural light for a brighter working environment; and climate controls to supply better air quality for NCCM products and its employees.

--A more secure product environment as the sole building occupant.

--A more visible presence among other tenants in the corporate park and in the community at large.

The Niccums spoke highly of their landlord Tom Elbert, owner of the River Falls Industrial Center, 715 St. Croix St.

"Having this place and the way it's operated is a great resource for business startups," Brent said.

Both said Elbert keeps rental rates low and is accommodating with maintenance and equipment needs.

"We don't have to worry about cutting the grass or cleaning the floor," Brent said, adding that Elbert's service eliminates distractions so a startup business can focus on bottom-line concerns.

The Niccums said River Falls was and continues to be a good choice for their company.

They said lower rent options than Hudson tipped the scales for River Falls when NCCM was formed in 2008.

And now 4.77 acres in the city's corporate park will be given to NCCM, making a costly building project much more feasible.

"That was crucial," Brent said about the free land.

For the complete story, please see the June 13 print edition of the River Falls Journal.