Double J owners James Owen and Jeff Enzminger have built up a solid customer base that keeps their shop humming. Photo by Melody Owen
Business Finds a Niche in Cattle Handling Products
Double J Manufacturing & Repair
By Melody Owen, Tri-County News
When business partners James Owen and Jeff Enzminger started an auto repair shop 10 years ago, the direction their business eventually took was not in their original plans.
Five entrepreneurial strategies that work in Dakotafire country
Strategy 1: Build on a product line that’s proven its worth.
- Anderson Industries, Aberdeen, S.D.
Strategy 2: Get the details right.
- Truss Pro’s, Britton, S.D.
Strategy 3: If what you’re offering isn’t selling, change what you’re offering.
- Double J Manufacturing & Repair, Gackle, N.D.
Strategy 4: Reach niche markets via the Internet.
- Kurt’s Car Collectibles, Webster, S.D.
Strategy 5: Develop businesses that complement each other and the community.
- Oak Tree Lodge, Clark, S.D.
Offering auto repair and farm tractor tire repair services, Double J Manufacturing & Repair opened its doors in June 2002 in the former Haut’s Hardware building on Main Street in Gackle with just Owen and Enzminger as employees. The business continued with auto work and farm tire services for a couple of years, growing as they gained business.
In 2004, they made their first order of free-standing panels. Owen and Enzminger knew they needed to find another product to offer because auto repair wasn’t enough anymore—four shops were competing for the business of Gackle, with a population of less than 500.
As area farmers and ranchers began requesting its products, Double J initially tried doing both auto repair and manufacturing. Cattle product orders soon outweighed the auto repair work, and the focus of the business turned to manufacturing.
Owen and Enzminger added wind breaks and feed bunks as well as calf shelters and working alleys to their list of cattle handling products. In 2004, the business outgrew their Main Street facility and moved five miles north of Gackle to the present location. Going through some rough years of slow summers with employee layoffs and busy winters of not enough help to keep up with the orders, the two business partners find themselves now constantly busy. “There isn’t a slow season anymore,” Owen said.
A native of the area, Enzminger had prior experience building cattle products in Beach, N.D. He previously owned a service station in Beach and also built panels of oil well pipe and sucker rod, the materials they use for their current products. Owen moved to North Dakota 15 years ago with his wife, originally from North Dakota, and their children.
Currently, Double J consists of business partners Owen and Enzminger and a crew of 13, consisting of welders, drivers, and bookkeepers. The business has two tractor-trailers for hauling pipe and finished products and will soon add to the fleet with another tractor and two more trailers.
The business now has dealers for their cattle handling products set up in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Idaho. They currently have more than 1,000 panels on order, giving customers a wait time of about eight weeks from order to delivery. They are also looking ahead to resale and delivery of oil well pipe and sucker rod to other businesses that are unable to buy in large quantities that pipe yards normally sell.
Double J will also install solar panels soon, which will allow the business to be two-thirds self-reliant for their electrical needs.
Looking to the future, the Double J pair sees the only thing holding them back from expanding is being able to find more help—and, as Enzminger exclaimed, “Keeping up with the orders!”
Editor’s Note: James Owen is writer Melody Owen’s husband.