Idaho State University’s professional business fraternity, the Delta Upsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, has named Ron Nilson, CEO and president of Ground Force Manufacturing in Post Falls, Idaho Business Leader of the Year 2013.
The award recognizes an Idaho business leader who has demonstrated business and professional ethics while contributing support to community, civic and education activities. Previous award winners include a congressman, former governors, entrepreneurs and leaders of some of Idaho’s largest companies.
Nilson bought Aresco, a small, struggling manufacturing company in Post Falls, in 2000, saving 20 jobs. He aimed to expand the mine support equipment product line and bring the products to the global market. Ground Force Manufacturing almost went bankrupt in 2001, but has since grown to four factories and more than 225 employees worldwide. The company does business in more than 45 countries, and sales have been up over the past three years.
Under Nilson’s leadership, the company has undergone a major expansion, with a state-of-the-art, 85,000-square-foot factory that tripled production capacity. Nilson has increased Ground Force’s factory square footage from 55,000 square feet to 240,000 square feet and has expanded the company’s skilled labor force more than 300 percent over the last three years.
Nilson is on the Kootenai Technical Education Campus board of directors and the North Idaho College board of trustees. He has also held positions with the Boys and Girls Clubs, the North Idaho Manufacturing Consortium, the North Idaho College Booster Club, the Greene Idaho Foundation, the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce, Ignite Hope Warming Shelter, Kootenai Perspectives, Concerned Businesses of North Idaho, and Executive Manufacturers Roundtable.
Nilson was named Post Falls Citizen of the Year in 2008, and the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce named Ground Force the Large Company of the Year in 2009.