Aura Fabricators is a woman- and minority-owned-and-operated manufacturer of metal products that Bremer is proud to serve. Founded in April 2014 by Jasmine Sonmor, the Dalton, MN-based company initially produced ornamental railings and overhead signs, but quickly recognized an opportunity to expand the business. Today, the company manufactures steel bridge components and other metal materials used by state departments of transportation.
Serving this infrastructure market filled a void resulting from a competitor’s exit, which translated to significant volume and workload increases for the Aura Fabricators team. Sonmor recalls the intensity of the summer of 2015: “The team rose to the challenge, working long hours all summer,” she said. “But with our rapid growth, expansion became a very real need. We needed more space and a larger workforce to meet the new demand.”
As a result of Aura Fabricators’ reputation for high-quality products and overall reliability, Bremer and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) supported Aura Fabricator’s expansion with confidence. DEED provided a grant from the Job Creation Fund, and Bremer serviced the balance of the loan. In August 2017, Aura Fabricators opened its $3.8 million manufacturing facility in Fergus Falls to complement its operation in Dalton, providing essential capacity and additional talent.
“It’s easy for a bank to fund a company that’s doing well, but harder to trust that company to deliver on an entirely new line of business requiring a brand-new facility,” Sonmor shared. “But Bremer trusted us from the beginning, and we trusted them.”
That trust was important to Sonmor, who started the company just out of college. Her manufacturing jobs in high school, coupled with her college experience, prepared her to operate and expand Aura Fabricators. But Sonmor will be the first to say that expansion hasn’t been easy. She credits three key factors for the company’s success today.
First, a bit of luck and good timing. The infrastructure market needed a quality metal manufacturing partner, and the time was right to grow the business. Sonmor’s team was up to the task. And by expanding in Fergus Falls instead of Dalton, Sonmor was able to open doors to a new labor pool, offsetting the challenge of recruiting employees.
Employees are Sonmor’s second key factor. She credits her team for both the hard work required to support growth – and for being a support system for each other and for Sonmor during the most challenging moments.
Sonmor’s third success factor? A trusted banking partner. Bremer’s willingness to increase Aura Fabricator’s line of credit so they had the capital they needed to manage growth was an essential step in the expansion journey.
Today, with their expansion into a new market and a second facility in full operation, Aura Fabricators is a team of 50, focused on continuous improvement. Sonmor places special importance on internal training, re-training and development. “If people have a good work ethic and are willing to learn and grow, we are more than willing to help them get there,” she said.
Aura Fabricators’ growth has given Sonmor new perspective on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. She encourages other business owners to prioritize communication – with employees and with clients. By keeping everyone on the same page, aware and informed of developments in production and delivery, you can avoid unnecessary frustration.
And when it comes to a banking partner, Sonmor says business owners must look for someone they trust. “Don’t be afraid to ask for references, especially in small communities, and don’t hesitate to hold the bank accountable to any questions or concerns you have. Ask them how they think about things like expansion and lean times for your business,” she advised.
Based on their success, there’s no doubt Jasmine and her team will navigate the future with the same high standards and service that have built their strong reputation in the industry.