In 2011, Thurston Manufacturing Company celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
Incorporated by Wayne A. Jensen of Thurston, Neb., in April of 1971, the company began with six local stockholders. The company’s first growth spurt came with the introduction of the Blu-Jet fertilizer application and tillage equipment lines. Thurston Manufacturing Company currently employs approximately 90 people from Thurston (population 125) and the surrounding area.
Before starting the company, Jensen was a farmer, cattle feeder, and salesman for a company selling livestock nutritional supplements. Seeking to improve feed efficiencies, Jensen was inspired to manufacture equipment of his own. Operations began in a large grain storage building located in Thurston. The first product manufactured was the Self-Coupling Hitch for tractors and wagons. A brand name and logo were then devised for the products – Blu-Jet. Blue was the color of the hometown high school mascot.
Wayne's son Layton joined the business soon after start-up to assist in business development and product design; the company began production of fertilizer injection tool bars for applying anhydrous ammonia along with other tillage implements. A larger facility across town was completed in 1979. Three additional expansions to this facility have occurred through the years. In 1999, efforts were made to further diversify business outside of the ag industry with the stock purchase of Circle R Side Dump, Inc. of South Sioux City, Neb. After managing multiple facilities for two years, all Circle R production and operations were combined into the main facility in Thurston. Through the years, earnings have been continually reinvested back into the organization for facility enhancements, production technology, manufacturing equipment, inventories, and key management systems.
The fifth major expansion, which will extend all three current buildings and add an additional building, is currently underway. This will increase production space by 30%, and add a new painting operation and more robotic welding stations.
The Blu-Jet brand is marketed worldwide to North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Wayne Jensen and his wife Carla are now retired and Layton Jensen is President/CEO. Today, he and his wife Carolyn (VP of Administration), along with sons Nick (Chief Marketing Officer) and Ryan (Chief Operating Officer/Controller), manage all aspects of the business.
Over the past 40 years Thurston Manufacturing Company has developed and produced the following innovations:
· 1973 – Blu-Jet Constant Level Nurse Tank Hitch - Eliminates bent trailer tongues
· 1977 – Blu-Jet Wing Fold Past 90 Degrees - Narrower and Safer Transport
· 1980 – Blu-Jet Walking Tandem Under Carriage - Less draft & better knife depth control
· 1982 – Blu-Jet SubTiller - Low Disturbance Tillage Solution to Eliminate Compaction
· 1988 – Blu-Jet Double 3-point hitch Implement Caddy - Multiple operations in one pass
· 1991 – Blu-Jet EdgeBent Shank - Vast advance in strength over coil & 1x2 flat shanks
· 1993 – Blu-Jet TrackMaster - Center Pivot Irrigation Wheel Track filler
· 1995 – Blu-Jet GDI 200 - Positive Pumping of NH3 - better metering and increased rates
· 1998 – Blu-Jet AT4000 - First liquid applicator to use tractor tires - less soil compaction
· 1998 – Blu-Jet AT5000 - First NH3 applicator to use tractor tires for less soil compaction