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May 16, 2024
Mardon Quandt addresses guests at the grand opening of an expanded Malco plant in DeWitt, Neb., in October 2018.

Malco Products to Celebrate 70th Anniversary at AHR Expo

Jan. 22, 2020
Malco Products, SBC turns 70 this year, and plans to tell everyone about it at the 2020 AHR Expo in Orlando.

Malco Products, SBC, based in Annandale, Minn., with operations in DeWitt, Neb., reports that it is celebrating 70 years as a leading manufacturer of high-quality, American-made tools for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

Malco also manufactures tools of the trade for professionals engaged in exterior remodeling (roofing, siding and gutter), fence, deck and rail installation and autobody repair and refinishing. These specialized tools are built to last, rigorously tested, and backed by a lifetime warranty.

Malco is proud to be employee-owned and a Specific Benefit Corporation in the state of Minnesota, a legal designation that indicates that a specific social benefit — employee ownership, keeping jobs local and strengthening communities — is the primary driver of Malco’s business decisions. Malco was named the 2018 Medium Manufacturer of the Year by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Mardon Quandt, Malco Products' president and chief operating officer, has been with Malco for 25 years. He has served as president since 2013, and was named CEO in 2015. He has held various additional positions within the company over his 25-year tenure, including demand planner, sales leader, plant manager, director of operations and general manager.

In January of 2019, Quandt was appointed to the board of directors of the Hand Tools Institute, to serve a three-year term which will end in December of 2021. 

Among the highlights of Quandt’s tenure as president and CEO of Malco Products was to oversee Malco’s expansion to a new facility in DeWitt, Neb., where in October 2018 the company began production on a new product line called Eagle Grip, starting with locking pliers. Its newest offering is the C-RHEX®  — the Cleanable, Reversible Hex Chuck Driver.

During an interview with Contracting Business, Quandt described Malco Products' tool development as a working collaboration in which the company solicits opinions from contractors, sales representatives, and internal company associates.

"Sometimes we might not only receive solutions, but problems too, that can be used to improve our products," he said. "We also send engineers into the field to conduct ethnographic research. They'll spend time with a contractor to observe an installation where our tools are used.

“Our approach to product innovation is to start by identifying a problem that
professionals face, and create a solution to solve it,” said Quandt. “We heard from the trade pros who use our C-RHEX drivers on the job, that they wanted a 3/8-inch option in addition to our existing ¼-inch size, so we made it happen.” 

This on-the-job observation also led to the design of a  C-RHEX driver that is easy to remove and clean once it fills up with metal filings.

Quandt said contractors often might have to enter a product category by selecting a lower quality tool to be used for a time, but eventually they seek to upgrade their tool selections to higher quality lines, such as Malco.

"We have seen a number of international 'knock-offs,' where foreign competitors have tried to duplicate the look of our tools, but they can't duplicate the functionality and quality. A few contractors will give it a try, but then the tool breaks during the first use, or doesn't function the way it should. That turns them off from lower quality tools."

Quandt said contractors who use tools made by Malco Products most appreciate when a tool fits the job they're trying to accomplish, and helps them get that job done most efficiently.

"They also want durability, and tools that will last. The specialty tool market is unique to this task, and there aren't alternatives," he said.

Commenting on Malco now being a 100 percent employee-owned company, Quandt said the employees tend to view it as providing more stability. They're eager to make contributions, and continue their commitment to quality.

"But even before we became employee-owned, there was a lot of employee loyalty and a desire to see things succeed," he said. 

Join the Celebration
As Malco Products marks its 70th year, Quandt invites attendees to the 2020 AHR Exposition to stop by Booth 4651 for some celebrating. 

"We're going to have a larger, corner island booth, and we'll be demonstrating the C-RHEX and some of our other popular tools, such as our Turbo Shears, and others. We will be recognizing our history — where we've come from over 70 years, and all we're offering today," Quandt said.

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.