Atwood / Golden, Colorado


Atwood / Golden, Colorado

Founded: 1985

Privately owned

Employees: 20

Industry: Industrial & Equipment

Products: Attachments for graders, snowplows, and heavy equipment

CEO Ryan Walda is driving sales with versatile, durable, and custom tools for graders, loaders, and snowplows.

Walda’s late father, Greg, started the company and named it after his kids, Ryan and Lindsay. “He used to work for Champion motor graders,” says Walda of Greg. “He was a regional sales guy.”

In a meeting with Logan County officials, Greg learned of a local company in the town of Atwood that had developed a parallel lift group that allowed for interchangeable plows and tools on the county’s graders, Valley Welding. Digging deeper, he liked what he saw.

At the time, Caterpillar was the only OEM that manufactured lift groups in-house, but Valley Welding’s solution could connect Cat attachments to graders from Champion and John Deere. ”[Greg] saw it as a way to get into counties that only bought Caterpillar equipment,” says Walda.

It worked, and Greg soon left Champion to launch his own business. “He partnered with Valley Welding and started Rylind,” says Walda.

From there, Greg developed new tools and attachments. “Now we have about 50 products,” says Walda.

Couplers for wheel loaders emerged as an area of innovation. Rylind’s Wedge-loc and Pin-loc coupler systems make “for more secure attachments” between loader and bucket, says Walda. “You don’t get any rattling.”

Greg improved on problematic couplers when he developed the Wedge-loc system. “He redesigned it into something more functional and more flexible,” says Ryan. “One coupler system can replace the all of the attachments between those motors. . . . With our system, you only need one.”

The top seller “depends on what the government’s doing,” says Walda. Subsidies for ethanol means more roll-out buckets. Counties looking to upgrade their fleets means more snow removal equipment.

During construction booms, Rylind’s excavating buckets are in high demand for digging basements. “You can dig something flat and back-drag it without leaving ruts,” says Walda.

Municipalities and counties account for about 25 percent of Rylind’s sales, construction and snow removal total about 40 percent, and the remainder comes from exports and their OEM dealer network. “We try not to undercut our dealers,” says Walda. “We do sell direct, but we like to sell through our dealers more.”

Rylind also offers customized equipment. “We don’t stock too much equipment because everything is different,” says Walda. “A bucket that goes on a Deere is different than a bucket that goes on a Cat.”

Most custom orders involve “tweaks,” he notes. “We’ll make our product work for you.”

But some customers are looking for more than a tweak. “We’ve gotten some crazy requests,” says Walda. He points to the imposing MDPX Folding-V Extreme Snow Flair Plow, built for a German dealer with an end user in Lebanon. “We took our MDP plow and modified it with higher wings,” says Walda. “You can go from angled to V to inverted V.”

Now the product is emerging as a catalog product due to its ability to gracefully move from dirt to pavement. “Weld County ordered one recently,” says Walda. “This allows them more versatility.”

Rylind acquired Valley Welding and its 20,000-square-foot shop in 2008 after more than 20 years of contract manufacturing. The timing, at the outset of the Great Recession, was less than ideal. “We couldn’t do a lot of the modernization we wanted to right off the bat,” says Walda. “We had to patch the shop together.” A decade later, he’s been able to upgrade to CNC mills and lathes and high-definition plasma tables.

Growth has been “pretty steady,” says Walda. “Not as high as I would like, but that comes with the territory.” The company has added five new employees since 2008 and now employees five at the corporate office in Golden and 15 at the factory in Atwood.

Challenges: Competition with OEMs. “There’s a lot more that OEMs build than before,” says Walda. “OEMs realized they were losing some business by not having their own tools division.” While the OEM catalogs tend towards basic and standard, custom and niche products are “a little more my market,” he adds.

Hiring is another challenge. “Just finding people with welding knowledge and machining knowledge,” says Walda. “When you bring in somebody new, there’s a learning curve.”

Opportunities: “We’re looking to push a little further East,” says Walda, noting that most customers are closer to Colorado.

The plan is to maximize the capacity of a new plasma table with contract projects for “anybody that needs cutting,” says Walda. “I can cut a half-inch hole in one-inch plate. Not a lot of tables can do that.”

Needs: Space and people. “I’m looking to hire one or two more outside sales guys,” says Walda. “We need to expand our building [in Atwood] and possibly adding a sandblasting building. You need a dedicated building. It’s messy.”