Flanked by two waving star spangled banners just off the West side of Southbound 71 Hwy in Bates County, MO is an unassuming building with a modest sign, that wouldn't catch your eye except for the colorful oversized umbrellas that sit out front.
Rich Hill, Mo is a small, quiet burg just off 71 Hwy in Bates County, MO. The town's biggest claims to fame are "The Town That Coal Built" referring to the fact that the town was once a large coal mining community and is still home to "The Big Mouth" one of the largest coal shovels in the world.
Rich Hill is also "Famous for The Fourth" ; meaning the 4th of July, when Rich Hill puts on one of the greatest week-long celebrations of Independence Day in America. Full of small town charm and old time fun; parades, pie contests, live music, talent shows, car shows, quilting competitions and horseshoe pitching. All done with a spirit of Americana and a true love of freedom.
When the parades are over and the smoke has cleared from the fireworks, It's back to work and back to normal. There aren't many opportunities for work in Rich Hill, MO. Many residents are truck drivers or work at the nearby Lacygne Power Plant, some travel to Kansas City, or nearby Butler to earn a living.
At least one company has relocated to Rich Hill, MO and is providing jobs for the local residents, with plans to expand their operation in the coming years by moving some overseas production back home to Rich Hill, MO.
Solar Shade USA, LLC 1600 N 14th St. Rich Hill, MO is bringing work back to America, bucking the trend that for so many years has seen companies moving production out of the US.
Producing products that shelter people from the harsh rays of the sun is a passion for owner Mike Taranto, who developed melanoma after working many years under its blistering rays. His products are tensile shade structures that have even survived hurricanes!
Solar Shade USA has produced products for Cordish Companies, for the Kansas City Power and Light District, Children's Mercy South, gas stations, car washes, states, cities communities around the world.
In August of 2008 a category 4 hurricane "Gustav" took a swipe at some of Solar Shades products, while leaving a path of destruction around them; Solar shades took a beating and sustained little to no damage. (see photos)
While the products (rigid steel frames, covered in high strength fabric) are manufactured, painted and produced in the companies series of buildings in Rich Hill, MO.; the fabric has been made in Australia. Mike Taranto plans to move the fabric production back to the US providing even more jobs for the little town of Rich Hill and their surrounding communities.
Mike hires local people and is pleased with the workforce and productivity of his community, commenting that folks here have a strong work ethic and care about the work they do.
"We care about quality, we offer a ten year warranty on all of our products." Above Mike's desk is a framed note that reads; "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey."