Joplin manufacturer Midcon Cables produces key products, and puts employees first
Jan 26, 2022
It happens all the time — Joplin’s Midcon Cables Co. is often mistaken by the public for a local cable television provider.
“They do that,” said Midcon employee Katie Ogle, nodding. “People will come up and ask me, ‘is this a cable company?’ When I first started working here I wasn’t even really sure what it was we made. So now I have to explain to the (the public) what we do here and they’ll say, ‘Oh, cool’ — because it’s a lot more than what they think it is.”
Simply put, Midcon provides wiring solutions to a broad range of customers by manufacturing complicated cable harnesses and assemblies — some taking 65 hours to complete by hand — that usually range in size from 12-gauge to 32-gauge sized cables. Each assembly transmits electronic signals or power from point A to point B. The company’s customers are mostly giant firms entrenched in the aerospace and defense industries.
“We’ve got a lot of cables that go in missiles, like the (AIM-9) Sidewinder missile,” said Midcon General Manager Brandon Williams. Midcon-made cable harnesses also aid the sophisticated nose-mounted infrared system on the Apache attack helicopter. Midcon products can also be found inside ground vehicles, drones and military radar systems.
“We’re pretty much on every military platform there is,” Williams said.
Everflex makes it happen
What makes this company’s products so successful, Williams said, is a product called EverFlex. Patented by the company in 1994, Everflex is a high circuit density ribbon cable that can neatly pack in wiring in tight and irregularly shaped spaces, able to twist and turn — even flatten out — to fit a customer’s wishes. They also provide protective cable wiring shielding, like thermal protection. It’s why their cable harnesses find their way inside well known weapons systems.
“In the cable industry … it’s hard to keep cables flat and even harder to keep them flat and shielded,” Williams said. “So that’s our niche. When you open up a box and there’s one of our Everflex cables (inside) … it keeps all the wires organized instead of a rat’s nest of wires.”
Big hiring phase
Williams said Midcon is in a “big hiring phase” right now, and have been for the past three years. They have brought on between 20 to 25 employees in the past couple of years.
“Even despite COVID-19 and the economic downturn, we continue to grow and have jobs that will be here for years out, despite what is going on outside in the rest of the world,” said Dean Kinzer, Midcon’s director of operations. “We’re really stable and have secured contracts that will allow us to continue to grow” into the future.
“So good are things right now, he added…
Midcon is an employee-owned company, Kinzer said — which is a “real big motivation because everybody has a vested interest in this company’s success, and that’s the goal.”
The company also offers a mentorship program pairing veteran workers with new hires.
“We try to be very selective with our mentors, (choosing) those who have proven to do a good job … with the skills and expertise to help out,” Williams said.
“We’re different from other (company) environments where you are sort of fed to the wolves,” Kinzer added. While the skills new employees must learn at Midcon are both intricate and detailed, it’s not a traditional sink-or-swim situation at Midcon. Doing that “is a bad way to start (a new employee) out.”
Midcon, which was founded in 1972, currently employs 261 people overall at the Joplin location as well as two plants based in South Carolina. Of that total, 74% are women — making it “uniquely diverse,” Williams said.
But what Midcon management is most proud of, Williams said, is the family-like culture they’ve created, and cultivate, at the plant at 2500 Davis Blvd. in Joplin.
“They’re very family-friendly,” said Misty Shuey, a Midcon employee for nearly 20 years. “They are good about being flexible; if you have something going on in your life, they’re not going to be like, ‘Oh no, you have to stay here.’”
Ogle, who left Midcon a year-and-a-half ago because of the pandemic, was recently rehired. The deciding factor for her to return to Midcon, she said, “was that everybody here is so good to me. They don’t hesitate to help you.”
“I think it’s just a (very) family-friendly atmosphere here,” added 17-year veteran Tracy Deaton. “I feel like they want you to put family first, which is rare. It’s a great place to work.”
That family-like atmosphere, Williams said, “is something that we’ve always stressed here … and take value in.”