Made in the Stateline: Rockford Systems


One Rockford manufacturer’s workers spend all day thinking about employees at other companies.  What it makes protects people all over the world.

“To make workplaces safe, it’s our passion,” said Rockford Systems VP of Sales Matthew Brenner.  “We want to make sure people go home safely at the end of their work day.”

You could sum up what’s important to the people at Rockford Systems with three words: Team, Passion, and Safety.

“We’ve got a lot of  long term employees here that have been here 10+, 15+, 20+ years,” said CEO Joe Nitiss.  “Every day we come to work and we say how can we make our customers safer, right?  And, when you think about it that’s a really neat “why” for a business, right?”

That’s what happened here for nearly five decades.  Rockford Systems designs and manufactures safety equipment for things like industrial presses, or cutting and turning machines.  The company’s expanded and diversified a lot since 1971 when it was found.  But, the core is the same.

“You can’t buy some of the safety equipment off the shelf,” said Brenner.  “So, it’s the ability to analyze their problems effectively and then design a customized solution that suits their specific needs.”

Rockford Systems’ executives are proud of what they call a turn-key service for customers.  The company’s there from the beginning, through training on the new equipment, which means they need a wide range of employee skills.

“We really have to understand how the equipment is being used,” said Nitiss.  “So, how is the operator feeding a piece of equipment when they’re getting something stamped. So, it’s the equipment, how it’s being used and it’s the integration of all of those activities that really makes us kind of unique in our marketplace in our space.”

That safety equipment involves three main areas: safety shields, hard-guards, and presence-sensing devices.

“Our safety here that we make a lot of it is really technology driven,” said Nitiss.  “So, we’re using lasers.  We’re using computers to do all the controls.”

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