Thanks to domestic focus, South Deerfield manufacturing plant unscathed by pandemic

  • Ross Boersma solders wiring on a speaker at Technomad in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Pres Pieraccini assembles an all-weather, portable, high-powered PA system at Technomad in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

SOUTH DEERFIELD — While other manufacturing firms navigate pandemic-related restrictions and delays on offshore deliveries, one local plant continues to manufacture and deliver sustainably made products.

“People need what we make, and it’s been good that we can do this domestically and still deliver,” said Karl von Kries, CEO and president of Technomad, located on Tina Drive in South Deerfield. “As opposed to in some cases, people had their whole supply chain shut down.”

He said the audio manufacturing company can do this because it completes all aspects of assembly locally.

“It’s been a relief to our customers that we’re making the stuff they want,” said von Kries, who noted his company is a counter-example of a national trend of offshoring.

The company, founded by von Kries in 1995, is a spin-off of Hardigg Industries before it was bought by Pelican Industries. It specializes in waterproof and ruggedized audio systems sold to schools, cruise ships, theme parks and even the U.S. government.

“We surprisingly have a lot of international customers as well,” he said.

Locally, Greenfield High School, Frontier Regional School and Turners Falls High School are equipped with Technomad’s Turnkey PA System, according to von Kries. The Calvin Theatre and Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton also have Technomad PA systems.

One of the things Technomad prides itself on is its practice of sustainability, said Alice Gentry Lingerfelt, project manager at Technomad.

“Part of what is making us currently more unique … is that we are now doing it with a solar process, so 100 percent of our speakers are made with the power of the sun,” Gentry Lingerfelt said.

Over the last two years, she said, the company has become a “zero carbon” solar process, setting it apart from other loudspeakers on the market.

“It’s completely revolutionary,” von Kries added. “We lose nothing in terms of performance.”

The manufacturing site is run by about 10 employees, von Kries said, adding that the space was already set up for allowing plenty of space between employees. Still, employees have been spaced out and are wearing masks; and getting tested.

The firm’s founder said Technomad’s ability to “thrive in a challenging environment from COVID” is a testament to the culture of manufacturing in Western Massachusetts.

“Western Massachusetts is, first of all, my home, and a fantastic part of the world,” said von Kries, an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “For me, there’s a real culture of craftsmanship and quality. That’s a really special western Mass. characteristic.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne