Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, June 17, 2002

Innovative Laser to double its size

By Lynda Jensen

The first business in the Howard Lake Industrial Park will also be the first one to expand at the park.

Innovative Laser Machining, Inc. plans to double its size by mid-July, after taking up residence in the park November last year.

The business specializes in custom flatbed laser cutting, serving customers nationwide in several fields, said General Manager and co-owner Chris Bickmann.
Rod Fiecke is the primary owner of Innovative Laser, which he started January of 2000.

What they do

Innovative Laser manufactures everything from tractor parts for John Deere, to metal shelf brackets for national chains such as Mervyn's Department Stores.
Products from Innovative are within .004 inch of accuracy, Bickmann said.
Other samples of products include small metal springs, metal washers, and components for garage doors, among many other diverse products.
There are actually two businesses under the same roof. The second business is called Innovative Metals, and deals primarily with distribution.
Innovative makes items for the following industrial fields:
· agricultural
· medical
· aerospace
· automotive
· recreational equipment
· other contract manufacturers who provide products to all types of businesses.

Fast growth despite a slow economy

Innovative was formed ­ and has thrived ­ despite a slow economy over the past few years.

Originally, Fiecke began manufacturing in May 2000, leasing space out of a building in Winsted.

At that time, Innovative saw the opportunity for metal fabrication and developed a working relationship with HT Metals of Big Lake.

The business outgrew the Winsted spot rapidly, and the owners started industrial park shopping.

They chose Howard Lake for personal logistical reasons, since Fiecke lives northwest of Howard Lake, Bickmann said.

Fiecke is also very involved in the football team for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district, he said.

Soon after moving to the industrial park, Innovative decided to begin distributing as well as manufacturing. This required hiring drivers and a distribution manager.

This resulted in two years of growth in approximately six months, he said.
This allowed them to control the quality and delivery of their products, he said.
This spurred the company to add a second shift in January. There are nine employees at the company now.

Nowadays, Innovative plans to add another 110 x 60 feet to its structure.
The building was originally designed for expansion, since its back wall and roof were made to be easily removed and extended.

Down the road, the building can be expanded a number of times if needed, which would result in a horseshoe shaped building, if needed, he added.

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