From left: Michele Nordahl, Chad Nordahl and Roxane Metzen
Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Michele Nordahl, Anderson & Forrester
July 14, 2021
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
“Where should we land?” That sounds like something a pilot might say, but in this case, I’m referring to a business decision. A company in Denver was looking to relocate and considering various locations. The place where they chose to land with their business was a small community in rural Kansas.
Michele Nordahl and Roxane Metzen are co-owners of the Anderson & Forrester company, which they chose to relocate from Colorado to Clearwater, Kansas. Anderson & Forrester is a maker of specialized brass fittings that serve as orifices to channel natural gas or propane inside gas- or propane-powered devices.
Michele is a longtime human resources business executive. She grew up in Oregon and worked in New Jersey before her career took her to Wichita. In 2014, her employer asked her to evaluate different company-owned businesses that the company was considering selling. One of those was Anderson & Forrester, which Michele eventually purchased herself with her friend Roxane. Michele is president and CEO. Michele’s son Chad is now general manager of the company.
The Anderson & Forrester company had been founded in 1928 by two men in the Denver area. In their garage, they had tinkered with various items, including the orifices used in natural gas devices. They created a business to manufacture these orifices, which are the specialized brass fittings that connect to the burners. Eventually, their business was purchased by a larger company.
After evaluating and purchasing the business in 2014, Michele and Roxanne made the decision to relocate Anderson & Forrester. Then the question became, “Where should they land?” “We looked at a lot of different locations,” Michele said. In the end, they chose Clearwater, Kansas.
“It had everything we were looking for,” Michele said. “Great location, small-town environment, good work force. Clearwater provided land in the industrial park for us.”
“The biggest thing is the location and the people,” Michele said. “It’s a neat little town and so welcoming. The people are friendlier here than anywhere I’ve ever been.”
Moving the manufacturing equipment was a major proposition. “It took three large semis and eight U-Haul trucks,” Michele said. “It went smoother than I anticipated.”
“The Kansas Department of Commerce has been tremendous. Very helpful,” Michele said. “They want small business to grow.”
Growth has indeed happened since the company relocated to Clearwater. ‘We’ve grown this business tremendously,” Michele said. Recent expansion has come in the outdoor fireplace hearth and patio business.
Because of the way the orifices are used in gas or propane devices, they must be built to exacting standards. “Our customers like us because we have the best quality and pricing,” Michele said. “Our competition is China.”
“The focus and mission of Anderson & Forrester has been to provide quality products and outstanding customer service,” states the company website. “We remain committed to uncompromising quality and customer satisfaction.”
Anderson & Forrester produces nearly a thousand different types of orifices for all kinds of devices that run on propane or natural gas, from vehicles to fireplaces. The company also manufactures related tools such as reamers, plugs and drills.
“Kansas is just the right place for manufacturing,” Michele said. “I can’t say enough good things about the state of Kansas, the business environment, the workforce and the people. Kansas brings so much opportunity.”
Sixty percent of the company’s business is in the U.S and 40% is international. Anderson & Forrester has customers as far away as Australia, Guam, India, London and Germany.
It’s a remarkable success story for a rural community such as Clearwater, population 2,481 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, go to https://andersonforrester.com.
“Where should we land?” That became a question for this business, after deciding to relocate from Colorado. Fortunately for Kansas, the answer was clear – Clearwater, that is. We commend Michele Nordahl, Roxane Metzen, Chad Nordahl and all those involved with Anderson & Forrester for making a difference with international entrepreneurship in a small-town setting. I’m glad the community of Clearwater provided a smooth landing.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.