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From a cornfield to Winsted’s industrial park
Feb. 1, 2010

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – The transformation of 40 acres of farmland to a fully-developed Winsted Industrial Park will be complete when the last five-acre lot is sold by the city.

The city is currently negotiating a purchase agreement for the five-acre lot and the deal could be presented to the city council for approval as soon as its next meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 3.

It has taken years to reach this final step in finishing the industrial park. The newly-constructed buildings, landscaped properties, business signage, and paved streets now replace what was once a field of corn.

The land for the industrial park was purchased in 1993 by the City of Winsted from the Andrew and Cora (Segner) Gueningsman family farm.

Theresa Gueningsman Fasching, the youngest of seven Gueningsman children, said the decision to sell the farm was to help pay for nursing home care her dad needed at the age of 98. He died at the age of 100.

The Gueningsmans had owned the farm since 1922. It was where Fasching and her brothers and sisters had grown up.

“We had dairy cows, horses, chickens, pigs, ducks and geese. My dad farmed with horses for many years,” Fasching said.

“I think my father was one of the last farmers in the area to use a threshing machine,” she added.

The Gueningsmans’ 80-acre farm was divided by McLeod County Road 1, with 40 acres on each side of the road. The homestead was on one side of the road, and the cropland was on the other.

The Winsted City Council and former mayor Don Guggemos had been looking at property available for industrial use about the time the family decided to sell the land.

The city’s foresight in purchasing land to make it available for industry was not considered unusual, according to Guggemos, but something that all cities should do.

“We had learned that the Gueningsmans wanted to sell the farm,” Guggemos said.

“We were not interested in the homestead because of the trees and buildings, but the property on the east side of the county road was a square piece of land with no trees or buildings,” Guggemos said.

The land was close to the city and was perfect for what the city had in mind, and an offer soon followed, which the family accepted.

And then, for a number of years, the land for Winsted’s future industrial park was rented to area farmers, who continued to plant crops on it while the city waited for industry to move in.

“I remember telling Don (Guggemos) there was nothing to invite people there,” Council Member Bonnie Quast said.

“Nothing but a cornfield, and why would anyone want to come into what we call an industrial park with a billboard sign sitting in the middle of a cornfield?” Quast said.

Quast had been working for Winstock, seeking sponsorships, and had the opportunity to talk with businesses she thought might be interested in building in the industrial park.

She was looking for just one business to build there, making it more appealing to other businesses to do the same.

One businessman, Rollie Radtke, was listening. Radtke and Gregg Machemehl are owners of Ram Building in Winsted.

“Bonnie Quast was really the one that put the idea in my ear,” Radtke said. “I was talking to Bonnie about three or four years before coming here (Winsted) because I thought about building a lumberyard here first. Then, I went and bought the Waconia Building Center instead.”

After Machemehl became a partner with Radtke in the Waconia Building Center, the two started another business called Ram Building.

With continued discussions with Quast, former mayor Floyd Sneer, and former Winsted City Administrator Aaron Reeves, the Ram owners finally made the decision to relocate their business to the Winsted Industrial Park in 1999. Excavating began soon after, and the company was ready for business in 2000.

Eventually, the Waconia Building Center was sold, and Radtke and Machemehl moved their entire operation to Winsted.

“It was really good of Ram to make that first investment into Winsted,” Winsted City Administrator Brent Mareck said. “They have been a big key to the success of the industrial park. They were the catalyst for starting that park.”

Once Ram made the decision to move into the industrial park, Quast called the changes to the park “amazing.”

“They (city) put roads in, put the curb and gutters in, and the lights, and it made it look like something,” Quast said.

Ram was also able to benefit from the move.

“Something that I have always noticed is this town (Winsted) seems to do a tremendous job of working within,” Machemehl said. “Businesses work with each other and help each other grow. We wouldn’t be very far if it wasn’t for some of the people that have bought buildings from us – industries right here in Winsted.”

Two years later, Waste Management, which had purchased Kubasch Sanitation on the corner of Main Avenue and McLeod County Road 1, also decided to move into Winsted Industrial Park when it found the need to expand.

“With Waste Management moving out into the industrial park, it brought the need to get the street (Industrial Boulevard) in,” Mareck said.

“Once we got Waste Management in there, and Ram, it was like two anchors to the industrial park,” Mareck said.

With another road, and another business, people were able to see that it was an industrial park.

Following Waste Management’s move into the business park, Ram built a lease building in 2004, and in 2006, Advantage Mailing, ApexAdvantage, and DiMax each built their own facility.

“The industrial park was never intended to compete with our existing businesses, but to diversify the job market and give people more opportunities,” Mareck said. “We try to do as many things to bring in new businesses as we try to do to keep existing business.”

With the current industrial park reaching its capacity, others are hoping the city will consider a second industrial park.

“I think it’s great that the city had the foresight to create this industrial park, and look at the industry that has come because of that effort,” Machemehl said. “I hope they plan to continue that idea and create another park now that this one is full. Where is the plan to go next?”

Businesses in the industrial park

There are currently five business owners and two tenants operating from Winsted Industrial Park:

• Advantage Mailing is located at 585 Industrial Boulevard and specializes in direct marketing, direct mail production, fulfillment, and printing. It employs approximately 30 people.

• ApexAdvantage is located at 590 Industrial Boulevard and it specializes in mail, fulfillment and distribution. It employs eight people.

• DiMax, located at 1107 Industrial Lane, is a manufacturer of non-metallic die-cut parts such as gaskets, seals, pads, cushions, and structural supports. It employs 10 people.

• Ram Building, located at 592 Industrial Drive, is a builder specializing in post frame and steel frame equestrian, commercial, agricultural and storage buildings.

Ram General Contracting is located at 592 Industrial Drive and offers a one-stop source for complete building projects from start to finish.

Ram Building Supply is a retail lumberyard for contractors and do-it-yourself customers located behind Ram Buildings in the Winsted Industrial Park.

Ram Landscape Services started Jan. 1, 2010, is located at 492 Industrial Drive in Winsted. It specializes in landscape design and installation for residential, commercial and industrial properties including outdoor design build services, retaining walls and patios, decorative stone and tile, erosion control, hydro-seeding, and irrigation systems.

Ram employs approximately 50 people when business is in full swing.

• Solid Surface Incounters is located in Winsted’s industrial park, where it is currently leasing space from Ram. The company manufactures a wide variety of products including countertops, islands, vanities, tub surrounds, table tops, wet bars, flooring, mantels, and hearths. It works with a variety of solid surface materials, but mainly with Corian, which is a product manufactured by DuPont. Solid Surface employs a few part-time workers for installation, but the co-owners, Richard Scott and Lisa Hennessey, do all of the manufacturing work themselves.

• Waste Management, located at 10030 Industrial Boulevard is a leading provider of comprehensive waste and environmental services. It is based in Houston. The company maintains 413 collection operations, and serves nearly 21 million residential, industrial, municipal, and commercial customers throughout the country.

In Winsted it employs 54 people; the majority of them are truck drivers.

• Worldwide Dispensers is a manufacturer of high-quality plastic press taps and dispensers. The business is located in Lester Prairie, but it has moved its assembly and warehousing to Winsted.

It is leasing space in the same building that houses Advantage Mailing and employs approximately 20 people in Winsted Industrial Park.


 

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