Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 5, 2001

Two local engineers flourish in the manufacturing, design business

By Lynda Jensen

Two local men are doing well in the manufacturing business, Craig Campbell of Waverly, and Melvin Briggs of Lester Prairie.

The two are part owners of Advanced Process Technologies, Inc., which recently relocated from downtown Winsted to Cokato.

Other owners include Kevin Rolfes of Kimball, Russ Scherping of Cokato, and Dave Kupka of Orono.

Campbell and Briggs are process engineers for the company.

Growing at a brisk rate

APT is expanding at a good rate, with 33 employees currently employed, and a new 22,000 square foot facility a quarter-mile north of Highway 12 in Cokato.

The company employs drafters, welders, metal finishers, process engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers.

Previously, the business was divided into separate locations, of which one was the Winsted office where nine employees worked. The work performed there was primarily process design, which involved a lot of computer work, Campbell said.

Another location associated with APT is Crow River Fabricating, which still exists as a company, but whose former Cokato plant building, about 5,250 square feet, is for sale now, Campbell said.

Crow River Fabricating specializes in custom fabricating related to items such as custom dog kennels and the like, Campbell said. It continues to sell these items since they are so popular.

APT designs and manufactures processing systems for the food and beverage industry across the nation.

"We design processes that take it (raw materials such as milk) through processing, up until the item is packaged into its final product (such as cream cheese)," Campbell said.

Companies such as Kraft or Coca Cola call APT when they need someone to conceive, design, and build a system needed to process their products, Campbell said.

APT could design an entire cheese plant, if need be, although they usually design specific units within the plant, he said.

The systems include a complex array of electronic monitors, pipes, valves and any number of other components needed to process products.

APT must also keep track of individual standards set by each state for the food industry.

In addition, food processing plants normally operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week; which means time is money in every sense of the word, he said.

There are three components of APT, stainless steel fabricating, process design, and installation, Campbell said.

The installation part of the business involves one of three APT crews, working nine-day shifts, that travels across the nation, setting up and installing the system.

The key to its success is that APT controls the entire process, from beginning to end - construction, design and installation of their products - making them more quality oriented and efficient, Campbell said.

How did it start?

Steel fabrication caught Campbell's eye at Scherping's in Winsted when he graduated in 1985 from Holy Trinity.

From there, Campbell attended school in St. Cloud.

Briggs is a senior process engineer and moved to Lester Prairie in 1989.

The best part? Campbell likes the challenge of trying to fulfill the customers' needs, he said.

"I like tweaking things," he said.

Briggs likes to travel, and the change of pace, he said. He is originally from Wisconsin.

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