Graco opens major expansion in former bank operations center

A former Wells Fargo operations center building has transformed into an expanded space for a fast-growing manufacturer.

Graco Inc., which is based in Minneapolis, has expanded four times since originally coming into the Sioux Falls market in 1993. The newest addition at 3401 N. Fourth Ave., adds 95,000 square feet, with a new connection to the manufacturer’s existing facility, for a total of 300,000 square feet.

“Plus, we doubled our acreage and can add to the west,” said Sue Christensen, operations manager, who has been with the company for almost 25 years and ironically began her career in the same building when it was part of Hutchinson Technology.

“We’ve had significant growth at this location over 30 years and have added a lot of highly skilled employees because we invest in technology.”

More automation takes away some ergonomic concerns and offers workers an increasingly high-tech environment.

“People can operate robots instead of physically sitting all day to perform the task,” Christensen said. “I think we’ve done a good job balancing our growth with a better skill set and higher-paid positions for people to move into.”

The Sioux Falls team supplies tips, spray guns and applicators such as those in the photo below to all divisions at Graco.

“We produce the products that fit in your hand,” Christensen said. “They’re at the end of the hose applicator, so things like spray guns and valves and tips. We do everything from precision machining and work that is highly automated to manual assembly when needed.”

The new addition supports a recent acquisition of a California-based company that makes high-purity valves.

“Graco is a growth company — both organically and by acquisition — and we are continually working on designs for new product launches,” Christensen said.

The business has grown to 300 full-time employees and continues to add, especially experienced CNC machinists.

“Our employees are very committed to continuous improvement,” said Tammy Wierenga, human resources manager.

“We conduct training for our entry-level positions, but we need highly skilled technical people for our machining roles.”

The newest building now serves as the front door for Graco in Sioux Falls. The office space was vacated by Wells Fargo during the pandemic, and while much of the building was renovated completely from workstations into manufacturing space, some of the office area was updated with new finishes and now is used by Graco’s team.

“We did a face-lift with new carpet and paint and furniture,” Christensen said. “And then we moved in some of our legacy work into the new addition, along with a space for clean manufacturing.”

The architect on the project was TSP, and the general contractor was Henry Carlson Construction.

The new addition is “another significant milestone in Graco’s growth journey in Sioux Falls,” said Mike Gray, director of business development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Our organization’s relationship with Graco has been a source of pride since the early 1990s, when they became a cornerstone tenant in Sioux Empire Development Park 3. Since those early days, we have collaborated on numerous expansion projects, witnessing firsthand their growth and commitment to the community.”

Graco’s success story “is not just about business,” he continued. “It’s a testament to the vibrant economic landscape of Sioux Falls. We look forward to continuing to work together and celebrating many more milestones in the future.”

For Graco, the Development Foundation is “great to work with,” Christensen said. “They’ve been very helpful in making us aware of all that’s available to support our growth and stayed connected with us throughout the process.”

The company also has partnered with the Development Foundation around workforce development programming.

“I take advantage of the networking events and educational events and appreciate the insight they offer,” Wierenga said.

Graco held a ribbon-cutting earlier today to celebrate its new addition.

To learn more about current career opportunities at Graco, click here. 

Forward Sioux Falls is a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and is widely respected as the premier economic driver for the Sioux Falls region. To learn more and connect, click here.

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