Spika Design & Manufacturing
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Mar 31, 2021
Katie Spika, President & CEO of Spika Design & Manufacturing, Inc. in Lewistown, Montana stared out of her window into the expanse of the serene Montana landscape faraway wondering how the pandemic that had blind-sided businesses worldwide would impact her market.
Her gaze fell on the empty space adjacent to the factory premises. Plans had been afoot for a factory expansion to get the company positioned for supporting a resurgence in manufacturing in America when the pandemic hit. Major corporations were pulling back on capital expenditure. An incorrigible optimist, Katie called for a management meeting.
“We know that the pandemic has brought in a new uncertainty to the economy, but it also brings to the forefront the need for a more dependable supply chain for our nation’s industry; we must stick with our plans to invest in expanding our capabilities.”
Such a bold move was not exactly new territory for a company that had quite literally been tempered and shaped in fire.
Katie’s father, Tom Spika, has always had a knack for building things. He had been using his talents to build fancy wooden birdcages in a small shop on his family farm when a devastating fire ripped through, burning down his workshop. After building a new shop in 2001 to continue this passion, Tom began receiving requests to do contract manufacturing for several businesses, primarily utilizing aluminum.
In 2008, he set up a shop in Lewistown, MT and before he knew it, what started as an independent, wooden aviary shop on the Spika farm had now become a family and woman-owned, small manufacturing business employing over 50 full-time staff throughout rural central Montana.
“Looking back, that moment in my life [the fire] was most certainly a blessing in disguise. What looked to be the greatest setback I could have faced was in fact the very thing that allowed my dream to take root.”
– Tom Spika
Spika Design & Manufacturing specializes in the custom design and manufacture of work platforms and support equipment for a variety of industries, including aviation, aerospace, automotive, and heavy equipment. Their products provide upper-level access, contour conformity, and adjustability to facilitate the manufacturing and maintenance requirements of their customers.
“Our design and ability to work with customers to tackle any project really sets us apart,” explained Katie Spika. “We love when someone comes to us with a challenge, and we can work out a solution. We have happy customers which we are so proud of.” The company proudly serves all branches of the U.S. Military, NASA, many commercial aerospace and defense companies, and several integration/ automation companies, as well as exports to others around the globe.
In 2020, Spika Design & Manufacturing saw the opportunity to expand their services, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs by offering powder coating services in-house. After talking with their banker at Little Horn State Bank, the Spika family was introduced to Dakota Business Lending and the SBA 504 loan program to assist them with this project. The company simultaneously used the SBA 504 loan and SBA 504 Debt Refinance programs to construct a 4,400 square feet addition to their facility, purchase powder coating equipment, and refinance their current real estate debt.
“The SBA 504 loan program was a great way to take advantage of the low interest rates and government programs that are available today. It’s a complicated process but having someone like Dakota Business Lending to walk us through it was so valuable to us.” – Ashley Morris, Controller
With strong community ties, Spika encourages volunteering and supporting local organizations by donating community support dollars to local organizations, providing paid time off for volunteering, and hosting a company-wide Day of Service throughout their community. “The community is so important to our family and it’s important to us that we support them,” shared Katie. “We are here in Lewistown because we love the people, the city, and the community and we continually look for ways to show that.” The Spika family has also developed an internal leadership group that helps develop the leadership skills of people within their organization – the same individuals who ended up proposing the powder coating expansion project in 2020.
Over the years, as Tom and his wife, Carol, have slowly transitioned parts of the company’s ownership and all of it’s operations to their two daughters – Katie (who now serves as the President/CEO) and Bekhi (the company’s Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing) - Spika Design & Manufacturing, Inc. has built a sterling reputation as one of the few woman-owned small businesses in the world whose products provide safe access to workers in industries of the future, such as electric buses, spacecraft, and satellites. Looking back, the Spikas are incredibly grateful for this business opportunity that has brought their family together in a unique way while contributing to the economic progress of central Montana.
“As far as family businesses go, our family is so blessed. We support each other’s abilities and complement each other in a way that builds our family and our business. When we achieve something, we achieve it together. It feels good to be a part of that.”