by Della Elke, Montana Manufacturing Association Board Member
Owner, Montana Hydraulics
As Women’s History Month wraps up, take a few minutes to reflect on the women role models in your own life, and the difference they have made to you. I am hoping this reflex ion serves as a reminder to you that everyone has opportunities to make a difference; we are all leaders and influencers, whether intentionally through a specific position or by example in daily activities. There are several amazing women leaders in the manufacturing segment of Montana, but we need more; we need you! You have a unique combination of gifts, strengths and opportunities, I dare you to be intentional with yours. Giving back to your industry and community is good for the common good, but it is also good for your soul.
Kind Heart, Fierce Mind, Brave Spirit – Be Courageous!
“COURAGE is being SCARED to Death but Saddling up Anyway”
My name is Della Ehlke, I am an active board member of the Montana Manufacturing Association, a subsidiary of the Montana Chamber of Commerce; happily serving this group for the past several years. “ADVOCATING for a business-friendly climate, PROMOTING CAREERS in manufacturing, PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES for networking and professional development”
I am a 4th generation Montanan. My husband and I own Montana Hydraulics, a metal fabrication and machining business with shops in Townsend and Helena. We also operate a registered Hereford cattle operation outside of Townsend. Our daughter, Lacey Jepson, is the Quality Manager and bookkeeper for Montana Hydraulics, does a fair amount of our field farming as well as helping with the cattle; her husband, Zach, manages our Townsend shop. Our youngest daughter, Jane’a Merkel is integral in the cattle operation.
Many Montana small businesses have faced significant and varied challenges the past couple of years. We, at Montana Hydraulics have experienced more adversity than I have seen in my 20+ years at Montana Hydraulics. We have been intentional in looking at ways to adapt trying to turn obstacles into opportunities where we can. In addition to manufacturing our own roundwood doweling machines, we build components used by other Montana manufacturers in their products. Most of our customers are affected by supply chain issues and work force shortages; some have seen substantial decrease in sales while others have a back log of orders that they cannot meet. Our shops are trying to be a more flexible; aka more valuable resource our customers. Employees are currently training to offer additional services that we have not offered before. We have expanded our welding capacity and are able to help our customers with their capacity overflow and offering part pickup and delivery when scheduling allows. We have not lost any employees these past couple of years; for this, we are very thankful.
Like many businesses, we have a long way to go and lost ground to make up, but I remain hopeful and grateful. Grateful for our employees and customers; grateful for family and health and grateful to work and live in this great state.