By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN It was the right move at the right time for M & N Structures’ business owners, Kevin and Betsy Niemeier, who packed up their design/build structural engineering and structural steel fabricating business in Plymouth last year and relocated to Winsted Industrial Park.
Winsted Chamber members will have the oppotunity to tour the new 28,000-square-foot facility Tuesday, Sept. 13, and see the advantages the new location has provided the Niemeiers.
The initial move was done over a weekend, and M & N Structures opened its doors in Winsted Nov. 1, 2010.
But getting used to the additional working area was an adjustment Betsy said they are still in the process of perfecting.
It hasn’t slowed down business, however.
“We have been very busy getting product out the door and we are doing jobs we couldn’t have done before in that small space,” Betsy said of their previous facility in Plymouth.
“We just completed a job that had six trucks of steel and we did it in two-and-a-half-weeks, which would have taken a lot longer, but we have the new drill line from Italy,” Betsy said.
There wasn’t room for the new drill line, a five-set machine called a “beam-line,” at their previous location.
Using three-dimensional software, the information is sent to the automated equipment, which does the drilling, and cuts it to length. Then, each piece is marked for its location.
Before the beam-line, they had to buy their steel cut to length.
“Now, we buy full truckloads at a cheaper price per pound and bring it in because we can start from scratch,” Betsy said. “This machine also scribes. We don’t have to lay it out by hand anymore. It has just streamlined everything and made it so much faster.”
Another big advantage the new facility offers is enough space to load multiple trucks and still have room to move finished product around.
It has also been convenient to have Winsted’s AZZ Galvanizing Services and K-Way Express, two businesses M & N works with on a regular basis, right down the street.
With more opportunity to handle more projects, M & N has also employed two additional local people to work for them.
Just this year, M & N was recognized in Twin Cities Business Magazine for its work on The Shops at West End, a large shopping center located at I-394 and Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, a project for which M & N did both the structural engineering and steel fabrication.
M & N is currently working on a “huge” project for a food distribution and grocer warehouse in Oklahoma, and building an office building in St. Paul. The company just finished a car dealership in Burnsville.
History of M & N Structures
Kevin Niemeier began M & N Structures out of an office in the family home in 1987. His wife, Betsy, joined him in 1992, bringing business experience in finances.
The couple started the steel fabrication part of their business in a garage they rented in Minnetonka. The garage wasn’t even 1,000 square feet, according to Betsy. Their son, Jim, joined them after graduating with a major in mathematics from the University of Illinois Champagne in 1995.
After a year in very cramped quarters, the business was moved to an industrial warehouse complex in Minnetonka, and M & N remained there for nine years.
In 2005, their son-in-law, Jonathan Henriksen joined the company after graduating from St. Olaf College.
By that time, M & N had moved to a location in Plymouth.
As the company began to require more space, the Niemeiers began to look at property.
They learned about the last lot available in Winsted Industrial Park from RAM Buildings co-owner Rollie Radtke in the fall of 2009. M & N had known Radtke because they had done steel work for RAM on various projects.
“We had driven out to Winsted before, but just assumed it would be too expensive and so we were looking further out,” Betsy said.
Although free property had been offered to M & N to relocate its business in another town, the family agreed on Winsted.
“This is more of an industrial community,” Betsy said. “For us, it’s a little more expensive because we have to pay for the land versus them giving it to us, but in the end, I think we are better off where we are.”