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From Founder’s Homes to Massive Expansions, Businesses Focused on Supporting Car Enthusiasts See Sales Soar

January 4, 2023

This paid work is sponsored by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

During the months during the pandemic, car enthusiasts had plenty of time to do things in their garages. That was reflected in the sales of the Sioux Falls company, which grew from scratch.

Dakota Digital started in 1986 in the home of founder Ross Ortman. Today he employs 165 people and is a leading manufacturer of aftermarket gauges for hot rods, muscle cars, street rods and trucks. Gauges for Harley-Davidson bikes are also available.

And next year will be even bigger. The company plans to expand his 40,000-square-foot expansion, which will be connected to its current headquarters in northwest Sioux Falls, with plans for his 60,000-square-foot building to the north, available to tenants.

“When the pandemic hit, things got crazy,” Oatman said. “Since then, we’ve struggled to keep up.”

The newly added building will be connected to the existing building with an enclosed walkway for moving products back and forth. The multi-story building houses sales and technical support staff and provides additional warehouse space and electronics manufacturing areas. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“We’re really pushing into the length we have now for open space, so we’re making the production line longer with more automated equipment,” says Ortman. “Things will go much smoother.”

This expansion is the latest chapter in an impressive startup success story. During high school, Ortmann was obsessed with electronics and automobiles. He did his technical writing in college and published his work in trade magazine articles after graduating. Through that exposure he began selling parts to other enthusiasts through mail order.

This 1967 Chevelle was recently seen at the SEMA trade show in Las Vegas and includes an instrument cluster manufactured by Dakota Digital.

By the time Ortman decided to quit his job after seven years, “we had a few people working outside the home,” he said. “I had people come to work and then I went to a full-time job.”

Dakota Digital gradually grew into a commercial building and by the early 2000s ran out of space.

“The Sioux Falls Development Foundation actually opened Park VII early because I wanted to move to that part of town,” says Ortman. “They said they would accept the street if I promised to be their first tenant.”

In 2003, he moved into a 6-acre, 20,000-square-foot building in Northwest Sioux Falls Development Park near 60th Street North and Marion Road. Five years later, it has doubled.

“For years we were the only ones in the middle of a cornfield, and now it’s growing like crazy,” Oatman said. I’m from Humboldt, Montrose, and I lived close to Renner, which really helped. Being in that part of town was geographically good for my commute.”

Land at Park 7 is now sold out, but “it was a late-development park,” says Dean Ziezik, vice president of economic development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We have been there for a long time, but everything is starting to catch up as residential and commercial businesses filter around it. It was when we moved in. We knew early on that at the exit of Interstate 90 and Marion Road, it would be an attractive area to develop, but it took patience and a tenant like Dakota Digital. I needed to grow.”

Oltman knew the area was where he wanted to expand, so he bought additional land before building a Walmart nearby, and then took an interest in the area.

“Ross has worked with us for years,” said Dziedzic. “He served on our real estate board for six years and is an asset to that and he has a great business. They are booming and we are thrilled with their success.”

“It wasn’t too bad,” says Ortman, for Dakota Digital, despite the supply chain-related issues that have plagued many industries. “We were always over-forecasting, so the impact of the overall microchip shortage wasn’t too great, so we’ve been really lucky to have the long-term planning and forecasting.”

Because the company designs and manufactures its own products, “it’s very vertically integrated in that regard, from concept to engineering to hardware and software development to production,” Ortman said. increase. “We do all the machining, overlay printing, and final electronics assembly and manufacturing in-house.”

As the company prepares to expand, Oatman hopes to hire up to 20 additional production workers.

“The book has many orders and we need help to fulfill them all,” he said. “We have a very good referral program that works well and we strive to maintain a very high quality, family-friendly work environment.”

Dakota Digital has worked closely with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation since it moved to its first park decades ago, Ortman said.

“It’s been great to work with them,” he said. “Working with Dean on the concept and understanding his thoughts was helpful, especially with the whole retail aspect going on at Park VII. I would like to confirm that you are doing

The potential 60,000 square foot additional building is being sold by Bender Commercial Real Estate Services.

“Once all or part of it is occupied, we move in immediately. “Jans Corp. has done all the earthwork for both buildings, so they are ready to build whenever the timing is right. I think it will be

Click here for more information on Dakota Digital.

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