Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 6, 2004

Mass Finishing relocates operations to Howard Lake

By Liz Hellmann

Four months ago, Howard Lake became home to one of only about four businesses in the nation that deal with the manufacturing and selling of finishing machines and vibratory tubs and bowls.

Brothers Tommy and Mike Mathisen owned Mass Finishing in Delano for four years before recently relocating to the new industrial park in Howard Lake.

“We had some really good incentives for land. The people were very easy to deal with, and I’m very happy with everyone here,” Tommy Mathisen said of the move.

Their new business site offers them 15,000 square feet. Currently they employ seven people, but are looking to expand in the future.

“We’re hoping to add on in spring and hire two more people,” Mathisen said.

The finishing process can be complicated and expensive. “We make machines to polish and finish metals and plastic. It’s like a glorified rock tumbler, but fast,” Mathisen said.

Mass Finishing sells its products to companies worldwide. For example, the medical industry uses the machines to make artificial knees and hips, and the dental industry for bridges.

Companies that are in need of a finishing process come to Mass Finishing and explain their needs. The Mathisens help the company decide what kind of machine is best suited for the job, and then create it. Finishing machines can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000.

The Mathisens’ business specializes in centrifugal barrel finishing machines. The medium that is in need of finishing, such as ceramic, is put into barrels located on a turret.

As the turret spins, the medium is compacted into a tight mass, and any burrs or rough edges are smoothed out, creating the finish. Tommy Mathisen likens this process to the feeling one gets at the top of a Ferris wheel. In this case, the turret is the Ferris wheel, the barrel is the seat on the Ferris wheel, and the medium is the person in the seat.

The Mathisen brothers started Mass Finishing by taking over a division of Timesavers in Crystal. Tommy had managed that division for the company for 10 years.

He describes the industry as a very small niche, with only three other companies like it located in the United States.

“It’s a pretty small industry; we do about $2.5 million a year in sales,” Tommy Mathisen said. Mass Finishing sets itself apart from the other companies by manufacturing their own machines.

“We are the only ones who build the machinery – everyone else usually imports from China,” Mathisen said.

Mass Finishing is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit www.massfin.com for more information.

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