By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Good things have been coming out of the big blue building on the corner of Baker Avenue and Third Street in Winsted lately.
“We manufacture drilling tools mostly drill piping for watermills, construction, geotechnical, geothermal, and mining,” said Tom Ronnkvist, president of Drill Pipe Inc. “We sell throughout the world.”
Although Drill Pipe Inc.’s products are predominately sold out of state, almost all its employees are local.
“Most of them have relocated to town,” Ronnkvist said.
The company moved to Winsted in February, and currently has about 15 workers. Eventually, Ronnkvist plans to double that number.
Drill Pipe Inc. is Ronnkvist’s first local drill piping business, but he is no stranger to the manufacturing industry.
His father also had a small business, which Ronnkvist began working for at age 11. He then took over the company after his dad passed away in 1987.
Ronnkvist also furthered his education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, as well as with vo-tech courses in Hutchinson.
Before starting Drill Pipe Inc., Ronnkvist’s most recent manufacturing company had focused on the petroleum aspect of drilling.
After selling that operation, Ronnkvist pursued Drill Pipe Inc. in a small-scale building in Long Lake. Meanwhile, he was searching for a place to expand.
“I’ve always liked this building,” he said, explaining that he often saw it while traveling for his other business.
At that time, however, the blue building in Winsted was occupied by a fertilizer company.
When Ronnkvist’s real estate agent later mentioned a property in Winsted that was for sale, Ronnkvist was immediately hopeful.
“I said, ‘It’s not 550 S Third Street, is it?’” he recalled.
Ronnkvist quickly purchased the building, and moved his equipment inside.
His wife, Leslie, has been instrumental in getting the business off the ground, and currently takes care of accounting and other duties, as needed. The Ronnkvists live in Minnetrista, and have two children in college and one in high school.