Local manufacturer credits quality products and dedicated employees for continued growth

When talking with Bandit Industries’ marketing manager, Jason Morey, it doesn’t take long to see that “Bandit is growing” might just be the biggest understatement of the year.

“We've had rapid growth over the last three to four years as far as employees go, our buildings, the number of products that we're producing, and the number of dealers that are selling our products,” Morey notes. “Before COVID in 2020, we were right about 440 employees. Now we're over 700 employees. And the demand for Bandit products just continues to increase.” 

Those products include machines like stump grinders, whole tree chippers, and horizontal grinders. Morey says most of the machinery they produce can be used in multiple industries.

(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)“Our product lines are broken down into two categories: the tree care industry, and then our industrial markets consisting of the waste, recycling, and logging,” Morey explains. “Our tree care equipment consists of our hand-fed brush chippers and our stump grinders.”

Morey says these machines are used by contractors, homeowners, and local municipalities alike for overall tree care like pruning and removal. Bandit also supplies landscaping companies with machinery. 

Then, there are the industrial markets Morey mentioned.

“We’re mainly selling our whole tree chippers to logging operations and land clearing—so anyone that's land clearing for new development, any loggers that are doing big tracts of land that they're clearing.”

Morey explains that this ties in with what’s known as the biomass industry: wood waste finding a second life as wood chips and mulch for landscaping or as pellets for wood stoves. 

(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)Bandit partnered with a company out of Germany in 2018 to represent their line of slow speed shredders throughout North America. These shredders work on getting even tougher waste materials like concrete, rubble, asphalt, bricks, ceramic, light metal, hard plastic, and even house shingles and car bodies into a manageable size. Morey says that waste like this can also find a second life after being shredded. 

“Instead of those shingles going to the landfill, they can be recycled and then ground down to a real fine end product that can be turned into an asphalt repayment process for parking lots.”

“It's more than just obviously chipping up trees and grinding stumps,” Morey adds. 

Bandit Industries was formed in 1983 by Mike Morey Sr., along with six other employees. Back then, it was called Foremost Fabrications. As the decade progressed, new machine models were introduced to the public, and the company continued to grow. Eventually was given the name it has today. 

Today, Bandit’s website lists company core values as integrity and teamwork; including a diverse range of thinking, opinions, and skills. This means lots of different people are helping to make the company a success. In fact, the local company now has a global presence with a dealership network of over 250 locations around the world.

“Our dealer network is another key factor to our growth and success,” Jason Morey says. “They're independent companies. They're investing substantial resources into support equipment, machine and parts inventory, and personnel, to support the customer base in the area they're representing.”

And Bandit has continued growing locally as well. Most recently, they purchased two companies near their headquarters in Remus and in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, adding thousands of square feet of office and manufacturing space, plus additional product offerings.

(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)But Morey says the heart of the company isn’t a location; he believes the employees themselves set Bandit apart from other industries.

“We have a really great bunch of employees, many that have been with the company for 10-20 plus years and that are really dedicated to growing the company,” Morey says. “Whether it comes to our support staff or our manufacturing crew, we're all a dedicated bunch of employees that are wanting the company to grow and really support our customers and dealers at the highest level.” 

Morey himself has worked at the company for over 20 years. He has observed firsthand the “willingness to listen to customers and dealers and our ability to build a quality product and then really our aftermarket support that we've got with our team here at Bandit and our dealers.” 

In fact, Bandit Industries is now an employee-owned company.

“A lot of people think of an employee-owned company that each employee owns the company and has a management say, but no, that's not the case,” Morey explains. “We've got a management team that still runs the company, and then we've got individual managers. But what an employee-owned company means is, each employee has a stock ownership in the company, and that's based on their years of service and their annual pay. You get a certain amount of shares, and then whatever the final number is at the end of the year, there's a dollar amount assigned to each share. And that's what your current account balance is, and then you don't have access to that until you're a certain retirement age just like a 401K account.”

(Photo courtesy of Bandit Industries)The decision to become an employee-owned company, or ESOP, happened in 2018 when the company owners had decided to sell. Morey says it was a decision that he believes will preserve what makes Bandit the company it is.

“Our customers like that because the core values that have built Bandit remain intact,” Morey says. “Where if someone else comes in—let's say a company purchased us—they've got their own agenda and ideas that may not coincide with what the goals and core values that have built Bandit.”

Bandit’s core values and goals, as well as long-time loyal customers and dealers, will be just some of the many things the company is celebrating as this year marks their 40th anniversary. To commemorate, they are co-hosting events at dealership locations all over the country, including sites in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Georgia. The celebrations will include food, beverage, and training classes for using the equipment—along with a drawing to win equipment.

“We’re excited for these events. And then hopefully this will give (an opportunity for) some customers that haven't met some of the Bandit personnel in their area; allow us to have more of a focus on a smaller scale.”

A celebration event at Bandit’s main headquarters in Remus is also scheduled for this September. Morey says he sees having the company’s main office in a small town is a big advantage.

“The employees that we get in this area are really dedicated, hard-working people. Obviously, every area has got its advantages, but I just think the people in this community and area are really quality, hard-working people, and it's really been one of the major keys to Bandit's growth over the last 40 years,” he says. “When customers come to Bandit and tour the facility, they often are impressed with how open our employees are to talking to them and show them in their job and really are impressed with how the quality built the product is.”

“We've got one of the most diverse product lines in the industry now,” Morey concludes. “So, we're entering new markets, especially internationally. That's allowing us to gather more market share and continue to create the demand for our products—which means more manufacturing … I believe we've got one of the best support systems in the world for this type of equipment—which really helps everyone.”

Learn more about Bandit’s history and upcoming 40th anniversary events by visiting https://banditchippers.com/.

This story was updated at 3:05 p.m. on Thursday, March 23 for clarification purposes.
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Read more articles by Sarah R. Adams-Slominski.

Sarah R. Adams-Slominski is an award-winning multimedia producer and writer with over 20 years of experience. She has also designed and taught multimedia and communication courses for university students, as well as media relations and marketing seminars for clients she coaches across the United States. In 2020, she began work on a doctorate and is now concentrating on dissertation research in educational technology and new literacies while working as a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct college instructor. When she has some downtime, Sarah loves reading, cooking, and swimming—as well as hanging out with friends, family, and her fiancé at home with two giant cats.