SelectOFALLON Business Spotlight: VSM Abrasives Corporation
In the winter of 1977 German-coated abrasives manufacturer, VSM Abrasives Corporation, had a choice to make on its US headquarters location. The two final contenders included Detroit, Michigan the epicenter of the automotive industry, or the small, but quickly growing Midwest city of O’Fallon, MO, which would provide a central location to the region’s major interstates. VSM selected O’Fallon for many good reasons, not to mention the fact that the Detroit area was in the middle of a winter freeze that would chill anyone to the bone. On that fateful day, VSM’s German leadership team made an important decision that continues to pay big economic benefits to our community and the surrounding region.
In the 45 years since that decision, VSM Abrasives US has undergone four expansions, with its most recent 50,000 square feet of additional space completed in June. In the 1990s, the Germany-based company also had two warehouses – one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast – but it once again found that O’Fallon’s central location better served its needs and therefore moved all operations to the Midwest community. Today VSM owns 165,000 square feet of office, operations and warehouse space.
Even if you are unfamiliar with the VSM name, you see the impact of its products around you as one of the leading companies in the international coated abrasives market. The O’Fallon facility provides more than 18,000 different products for industrial end users specifically in the metalworking and woodworking industries. VSM is known worldwide for its high-quality standards, highly-specialized products for specific industrial needs and its expertise in grinding and surface finish operations.
Henning Dammer, president of VSM Abrasives US, relocated from the company’s headquarters in Hanover, Germany to O’Fallon in 2022. He has found the community to be welcoming and has been impressed to see how O’Fallon has been a good partner in assisting the company in its growth.
“The city of O’Fallon has been easy to deal with,” says Dr. Dammer. “We’ve had the chance to meet with officials and address any concerns one-on-one.”
He remembers one such issue during its most recent expansion when VSM didn’t yet have occupancy for its newest warehouse space. He reached out to the city, and they collaborated on a “fast solution” that involved granting temporary storage so VSM could continue to meet its customers’ needs.
Other reasons that VSM continues to select O’Fallon as its US base of operations include its proximity to the international airport, quality of life and home prices for its employees and the availability of a skilled and dedicated workforce.
“We have a lot of employees who have stayed here for more than 20 years and encourage family members to work at VSM,” says Dr. Dammer. “We find people to work in the office, on the lines, and in technology thanks to the people who live here as well as local university programs in the community.”
Over the years, VSM has developed a positive working relationship with O’Fallon officials. “The good news is that we and the city don’t really need each other very often, but when we need solutions, O’Fallon is easy to reach and accommodating,” says Dr. Dammer. “We have no intention of moving anywhere else,” he says. “Our employees like to live here, we like to work here, and our business is growing.”