By Gabe Licht
Delano was well represented during the Wright County Economic Development Partnership annual meeting Jan. 31.
Industrial Louvers Inc. was named the 2019 high economic vitality business and Dale and Lynn Graunke were named the 2019 outstanding citizens of the year.
Brett Reinhardt accepted the award on behalf of Industrial Louvers.
The business was founded by Reinhardt’s grandfather, James Sterriker, in 1971 , and has been operating on its current site since that time.
Sterriker’s daughter, Jo Reinhardt, has been a part of the company since 1982, working in a wide range of roles before becoming CEO in 1999.
Industrial Louvers manufactures architectural metal products such as louvers, equipment screens, decorative grilles, sunshades, and column covers.
In 2018, Industrial Louvers completed a major building expansion, adding 49,000 square feet that includes a state-of-the-art facility and paint line for Verta Inc., its finishing business. It features high-efficency ovens and wash systems that utilize rainwater captured on the roof. Verta became the first applicator of high-performance architectural coatings to incorporate a completely chrome-free process.
Industrial Louvers also recently completed a 5,000-square-foot office buildout that incorporates many sustainable attributes.
A third expansion is planned for 2020, and will include an upgraded exercise area with locker rooms and showers, a large training facility, and expanded office space.
Almost since its inception, Industrial Louvers has participated in the Air Movement and Control Association, a global nonprofit focused on advancing the knowledge of air systems and upholding industry integrity. Jo Reinhardt has served in many AMCA leadership roles, including serving as the only female president in the organization’s 64-year history.
Industrial Louvers is actively involved with US Green Building Council and the Minnesota Chapter of the USGBC through sponsorships and support.
Industrial Louvers supports local economies by sourcing goods and services from locally-owned and operated businesses whenever possible.
The Graunkes have contributed to the economic activity in downtown Delano by purchasing and restoring the old hardware store, now known as The Jerome.
The property historically played a significant role in the downtown’s economic success for decades, but had sat vacant since 2008.
The Graunkes purchased the building in 2013, and began methodically and meticulously restoring the building as the primary contractor on site.
In 2017 or 2018, they opened the offices on the second floor, adding The Jerome Event Center on the main level in 2019.
“Dale and Lynn have economic potential with this property, no doubt, but, from my perspective, their efforts went much beyond any potential personal gain and, instead, how the property can best help the revitalization of downtown and a service to the building itself,” the nominator wrote. “Being an observer, their efforts to care for the building and make sure it will continue to play an important role in the city and downtown’s future are a tremendous service to the community.”
The nominator noted that the building brings tenants and their clients to eat and shop downtown on a daily basis.
“Now that the event center has opened, downtown is getting introduced to a whole host of folks that may not otherwise ever come to visit,” the nominator added. “It also fills a need Delano has had in their community for a long time, an event center that can accommodate 350.”
In addition to honoring Industrial Louvers and the Graunkes, the WCEDP also presented the Capstone Award to Duane Northagen, who is retiring after six years as executive director of the partnership.
In his time with the partnership, it has assisted about 15 to 20 businesses annually in Wright County.
He was also integral in the design and implementation of the CEO program for students, which Delano students have participated in.