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Systems Control celebrates 50 years

August 16, 2012
By LISA M. HOFFMANN - Staff Writer , The Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN - Systems Control celebrated its 50 year anniversary and unveiled its new building on Wednesday.

In 2010-11, Dave Brule Sr. said the company started listening to its customers and came up with a design for a new building for new products.

Construction began July 25, 2011 and 35 weeks later, Brule said the company started manufacturing its first equipment enclosure in the new building.

Article Photos

Founder Warren Brule discusses Systems Control’s growth and success at a celebration marking the company’s 50th anniversary, and the unveiling of its new building.
Theresa Peterson/Daily News Photo

"We had to move 160 yards of cubic dirt, sometimes twice, poured 3,500 cubic yards concrete, erected 750 tons steel, put up 127,000 square feet of roofing, and laid 470,600 square feet of asphalt," he said.

The new 126,960 square foot expansion is located in the Industrial Park in Iron Mountain.

Not only on schedule and on budget, but the project recorded 80,000 man-hours with no lost time and no injuries.

"Thanks to the contractors for that," he said.

With more than 350 employees, Systems Control produces electrical substation control centers, relay and control panels, outdoor/walk-in enclosures with relay panels, control booths and panels for the U.S. Navy, as well as providing engineering services.

Warren Brule said that if someone had told him years ago that he would have a company like Systems Control in 2012, he would have thought they were crazy.

"We have come a long way," he said. "I am very happy that we have been able to continue on and do this in Iron Mountain. The U.P., or Yoopers, have a tremendous work ethic, a group of qualified people and we are not going to a metropolitan area."

Brule recognized Larry Roell, as the first or second and longest employee at the company. Roell has been with the company since its inception.

Company leadership spans four generations - Warren Brule, his son Dave Brule Sr.; Warren Brule's grandson, Dave Brule Jr.; and his great-grandson Nick Brule.

Also mentioned were those in attendance, which included several employees and State Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls.

Steve Pontbriand, president of Systems Control, mentioned safety aspects the company uses, including a fire alarm system and 10 mph speed limit signs on the road leading in and out of the company. He also mentioned the company's partners, which include customers, suppliers, contractors, IBEW Local 21 representatives, and employees who were also thanked for contributing to the new building.

Brule Sr. said had it not been for Pontbriand, "We would not be where we are today."

History of the company

Founder Warren Brule, retired CEO of MJ Electric, discussed the history of the company. He said after he graduated from Hancock High School in 1943, his mother told him to get a job as if he thought he was going to sit around the house all summer, he had better think again.

Brule called that "stimulus" and soon went to work for Coon Electric of Hancock. Due to having poor eye-sight, he was not drafted into the service until 1944 and served time in the South Pacific during World War II.

Upon being discharged, he married his wife, Joyce, a native of Houghton, and they are still married 65 years later.

Brule then worked for Cloverland Contracting Co. until 1959.

In 1959, he purchased M.J. Electric, an appliance repair shop located in Iron Mountain from Marshall Potterud.

Recognizing a need for a good control panel manufacturer, Brule formed Systems Control in 1962 as a division of M.J. Electric. Systems Control soon gained the reputation as a premiere designer and manufacturer of control and relay panels.

Systems Control supplied its first class-1E panel for Tennessee Valley Authority Sequoyah nuclear power plant in 1972. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Systems Control supplies numerous main control boards, instrumentation panels, as well as seismically qualified cable trays to many nuclear plants throughout the U.S.

Because they had the capability of metal work, Systems Control ended up taking over a Chassell snowplow company. By 1985, production of the Boss Snowplow started alongside Systems Control's other products.

Dave Brule Sr., son of Warren Brule, is the CEO of Boss and Systems Control. Dave Brule Jr. is president of Boss Snowplows.

Warren Brule and his son, Dave, purchased an old Khoury Inc. building in 2005-06.

Boss Snowplow now has 350,000 square feet of manufacturing warehouse space and 11,000 square feet of office space.

The company today

Systems Control sales territory includes Canada, South America, Russia, Europe, and China.

"I am glad we are exporting to China rather than sales coming the other way," Brule Sr. said.

The company has been in business five decades and has more than 350 employees.

"We did everything right here in Iron Mountain, and we hire local hard-working people and make quality products, then go hunting for two weeks," said Brule Sr.

Brule Sr. said future plans include hiring a couple hundred more people, investing millions of dollars and continuing to treat customers as they should - "extraordinaire."

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, said it was a privilege to be at Systems Control for its 50th anniversary celebration of its new building on Wednesday.

Benishek presented a plaque as a certificate of achievement to Dave Brule as appreciation for the success of his business.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is



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