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82 posts categorized "Stewartville news"

July 22, 2016

New leader to take reins at Stewartville's Geotek

One of Stewartville's largest employers will have a new CEO at the helm.

Geotek, which makes fiberglass products for the electric utility and fence markets, has named Ben Wiltsie its new chief executive officer. Wiltsie will replace Dale Nordquist, who is stepping down after six years and will become chairman of the board. 

Wiltsie, who was chosen after a comprehensive succession planning process and a yearlong search, will start work on Aug. 1. He previously served as the director of marketing and business Development for Winona-based RTP Co.

Slide6Nordquist will replace Pat Mitchell, who is retiring, as chairman of the board.

Geotek, which employs about 150 people, has more than doubled its facilities and increased its revenue by 120 percent during Nordquist's tenure as CEO.

It is considered the market leader in its niche of pultrusion fiberglass products for the electrical utilities and for agriculture fencing. The utilities industry's use of fiberglass arms over wood or metal is growing, and demand is expected to continue to grow.

The fiberglass product manufacturer built a new 41,674-square-foot facility next to its existing 54,000-square-foot plant in 2011.

In 2016, Geotek won the Best Place to Work Award from the Southeast Minnesota Workforce Development Board.

Conrad F. Fingerson and Amy L. Donahoe originally launched Geotek in 1991 in Rushford. They moved it to Stewartville in 1994. In 2009, they sold it to St. Cloud-based Granite Equity Partners.

In 2010, Norquist was brought on as president and CEO. He previously served in the same role for well-known southeastern Minnesota manufacturer Zareba Systems.

December 16, 2015

New Stewartville firm to collaborate with Mayo Clinic

A new medical device company launched by well-known local experts is joining forces with the top health care name in the region - Mayo Clinic.

Minnesota Medical Technologies, recently started by Jim and Philip Conway, announced this week that it will collaborate with Mayo Clinic in the development of new fecal incontinence products. As part of the deal, Mayo Clinic will have some ownership of Minnesota Medical Technologies.

5627967a5e7bd.imageThe Conways have experience working with Mayo Clinic at their former company, Rochester Medical, which made catheters and urinary incontinence products.

"We are pretty expert in fabricating and designing devices, but we can't pretend to experts in the medical field. That's why working with Mayo Clinic makes sense," said Jim Conway. "It's very likely when we get our first patents, a Mayo Clinic name will also be on it."

The Conway brothers, along with partners Lonnie Boe and Sarah Grinde, are building a 6,500-square-foot pilot manufacturing facility in Stewartville's Schumann Business Park. Jim Conway says the goal is to start using the building sometime in April with early prototype production starting soon after.

"We're shooting to get FDA approval by the end of 2016," he said.

Minnesota Medical is already working on the early groundwork to develop a dual U.S.-European market for these new products. Like when they entered the catheter field in 1989, the Conways see a lot of opportunity to develop better products in area where there is a lot of need.

Fecal incontinence affects an estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of the general population and 40 percent to 50 percent people living in long term care facilities. U.S. sales of fecal incontinence products is predicted to hit $1.9 billion by 2018. Minnesota Medical is targeting 10 percent of U.S. and international sales, a goal they hit with Rochester Medical and urinary incontinence.

Rochester Medical grew into a major international manufacturer with hundreds of local employees and more than $60 million in annual sales. In 2013, the Conways sold it to rival C.R. Baird for $262 million. They signed a five-year, non-compete agreement not to make urinary incontinence products.

November 14, 2013

Rochester Medical shareholders OK acquisition

Rochester Medical Corp., Stewartville's largest employer, became a  subsidiary of New Jersey-based C.R. Bard at 8 a.m. today following Wednesday's overwhelmingly positive shareholder vote.

Votes representing 8.4 million shares were counted in a Minneapolis board room of the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. The $262 million deal was approved by a vote of 8.1 million in favor to 179,156 against. Another 12,054 abstained. Rochester Medical had 12.3 million outstanding shares that were eligible to vote.

Rochester Medical's Chief Financial Officer David Jonas said the vote tally took about 30 minutes. About 20 people attended the voted.

Shares of Rochester Medical were trading at $20 at the close of the market on Wednesday.

Representatives of C.R. Bard are scheduled to discuss their future plans at an all-employee meeting Friday morning at the catheter manufacturing facility. Rochester Medical has about 250 employees in Stewartville with a total of 400 worldwide.

While no specifics have been discussed about what will happen to the Stewartville facility or its employees, the president of Bard’s Medical Division made encouraging comments to staff in September.

"We are making this merger because we really believe you have got a ton to bring to us. These are additive, these two companies. There is not a ton of overlap," said Peter Curry, according to documents filed with the  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This acquisition marks the end of the local ownership of the 25-year-old company co-founded and run by CEO Anthony Conway and his brother, Vice President Philip Conway. The CEO has previously said that he and his brother will remain "deeply involved in the transition … ensuring that our new products will get to market in a very timely fashion."

October 04, 2012

Stewartville co. to build $10M expansion, add 50 to 60 jobs

A Stewartville manufacturer says it will soon build a $10 million to $12 million complex and add 50 to 60 new jobs.

Jim Conway, CEO and president of catheter maker Rochester Medical Corp., says the 54,000-square-foot complex will include an automated production line, clean-room packaging facilities, offices and warehouse space.

The expansion is expected to increase production by about 1 million catheters, and the company anticipates adding 50 to 60 employees to its Stewartville work force of about 250. Rochester Medical has about 400 employees worldwide.

The new building will be near Rochester Medical's current facility on the hill above Pizza Ranch, overlooking U.S. 63. Conway says it will be built on a field long slated for expansion. Company officials are waiting for bids from contractors but hope to have the project under way this fall.

Rochester Medical updated its manufacturing lines this spring, which increased production by 50 percent.

The firm, which sells about two-thirds of its products outside of the United States, posted its best-ever earnings in May and a record $15.25 million in sales. It wrapped up its fourth quarter at the end of September, and the 2012 earnings are expected to be released by the end of this month.

The expansion is driven by a new project that is picking up speed.

"The main reason we want to get started right now is a new catheter technology that we are super excited about," Conway says. "We didn't know this was coming. This has come up in the past seven or eight months."

While he is keeping the technical details under wraps for now, this new development is described as "very significant," and Rochester Medical is anxious to get it to the market.

The company historically has focused on unique innovations vs. "me-too" products. This week it released a new type of male external catheter with a special adhesive that allows moisture to be wicked away through its silicone sheath. It's the first of its kind on the market.

"That's the only way we are able to compete with the multi-billion-dollar companies that are our competitors," Conway says.

He says Rochester Medical's unconventional approach to research and design has fueled its success. Instead of a separate R&D department, it uses small teams made up of people from all areas, like research, manufacturing, packaging and marketing, to work on projects. That approach brings a variety of viewpoints together to develop a new product and a path to take the concept to market.

October 03, 2012

Stewartville manufacturer rolls out new catheter

Building upon an innovation it first introduced in 1990, Rochester Medical Corp. is rolling out a new product that is unique in the catheter industry.

The Stewartville-based catheter and medical equipment maker has created a product that is designed to make long-term use more comfortable for patients.
The new product, called Spirit, is an enhancement to the male external catheter, also known as a sheath or condom-style device worn by men with incontinence. The catheter is held on with an adhesive and connects to a collection bag worn under the patient's clothing.

Rochester Medical introduced the first silicone external catheter in 1990, a time when catheters were mostly made with latex.

Silicone has proven to be popular with patients and doctors for a variety of reasons. The breathable nature of the material, in particular, makes it more comfortable for the patient. However, prolonged wear can still be damaging due to trapped moisture in the skin, somewhat like wearing a band-aid for a long time.

To address the issue, Rochester Medical has developed a "hydrocolloid" adhesive that wicks moisture away through the silicone.

Acknowledging the awkward nature of their products, CEO and President Anthony J. Conway points out that this enhancement could mean a lot to a patient's quality of life and ability to go about their daily activities with as few limitations as possible.

"If you need to wear something like this, this a big deal," he says. "We feel really good about this."

While this is an enhancement on Rochester Medical's standard external product, Conway points out that the direct cost for the patient is expected to remain the same. Both catheters are covered for the same amount by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans.

Rochester Medical contracts its products through medical supply companies and networks of medical centers and hospitals as well as marketing directly to urologists.

From the company's experience with introducing products in the past, Conway expects sales of the Spirit to increase slowly.

"Most of our growth with new products comes from new patients," he says. "It will take some time, but we believe this will do well."

October 01, 2012

FedEx on the rise in Stewartville

The steel frame of a 60,000-square-foot FedEx facility has started rising in the Schumann Business Park.

A.B. Systems of Rochester, which is building the new center, installed the bulk of the stFedexeel framing last week after spending the past couple months preparing the land and the foundations for the new distribution center.

FedEx says that the project is proceeding on schedule and is scheduled to be completed by July 2013.

The new facility will be part of a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and enhance the speed of the FedEx Ground network. It will operate in conjunction with a facility in La Crosse, Wis., to help serve the growing demand for FedEx Ground service in southeastern Minnesota.

While some employees are expected to transfer from La Crosse, some new ones will be hired here, although further details haven't been released yet.

Jones Development of Kansas City, Mo. is in charge of building the center and will own it. FedEx Ground will lease the site.

Jones bought 7 1/2 acres for the project from the City of Stewartville for $2.74 per square foot, or a total of $895,158.

FedEx Ground currently delivers more than 61 percent of packages in two days or less and more than 82 percent of packages in three days or less. 

It delivers an average of more than 3.5 million packages a day.  In the past year, it has seen a 5 percent increase in packages.

July 06, 2012

Whopper of a typo could get a BK cooking in Stewartville

Sometimes plans for a new fast-food franchise leak out when online job listings start popping up.

Unfortunately for Burger King fans in Stewartville, sometimes those job ads mean something else entirely … like someone hit the wrong button.

Some folks started smelling Whoppers cooking when an ad surfaced online for an assistant manager to work at a Burger King in Stewartville, even though no BK currently exisits there.

BurgerkingsignPeople hungry for BK contacted Stewartville City Administrator Bill Schimmel about plans for a Burger King.

While Dolphin Foods, the franchisee for Rochester, has looked at Stewartville in the past, Schimmel hadn't heard of anything new. Schimmel called the company's owner, Greg Dolphin.

Turns out the ad was just a glitch.

"Unfortunately, there are no imminent plans that we know of anything happening," Schimmel says.

However, Stewartville officials are hoping to make french fries out of the big dirty potato of an error.

They took the opportunity to invite Dolphin to Stewartville to look at the Schumman Business Park, which is buzzing with activity as FedEx builds a massive distribution center there.

"He has been interested in the past in opening in Stewartville, and it sounds like he could be interested in looking here again," says Schimmel.

Dolphin talked about opening a BK in Stewartville back in 2005, when he took over the Rochester franchises after Burger King pulled the plug on the former franchisee, Road Corp.

The moral of this tale of fast food and high hopes is that typos aren't always bad things. I hope everyone who reads this column takes that to heart and remembers it the next time I muck up a word or two. Heh.

May 10, 2012

Will name of Stewartville's package center be delivered soon?

Here's a little update on the still-nameless 60,000-square-foot package center being developed in Stewartville.

It looks like the Kansas City-based Jones Development Co. will officially wrap up the purchase the 7 1/2 acres in the Schumann Business Park in the next week or two.

4216728231-l-Schumann Business ParkThe City Council has already approved selling the land for $2.74 per square foot, or a total of $895,158.

While the buzz in the area has long been that the tenant of the center will be overnight delivery giant FedEx Corp., it is still unknown if that theory is correct.

Looking at the background of Jones and others involved in this project, FedEx looks like a reasonable guess about what company is behind this big economic boost for Stewartville.

When all of the land sale papers are signed later this month, the 'Who' part of this development could finally be answered.

I'll do my best to package up and deliver that news as quick as possible, hopefully faster than overnight.

July 11, 2011

Pizza Ranch cooking in Austin

Here's some from piece from my astute PB colleague in Austin, Kay Fate.

Note that this is owned by the same people who have the Stewartille Ranch. The previous owner had been looking at Byron as a possible location, but I believe that goal has faded away.


Austin's newest restaurant, Pizza Ranch, is set to open today in the former Cashwise building on 18th Avenue Northwest.

PizzaRanch Owners are Mike and Lisa DeBoer, of Fairmont; Ryan and Marcia Achterhoff, of Orange City, Iowa; and Brent and Denise Tjeerdsma, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

DeBoer and Tjeerdsma were friends as children in Hull, Iowa; this is the fourth Pizza Ranch they've opened. The other three are in Fairmont, Stewartville and Mankato.

The restaurant occupies nearly 7,000 square feet in the southwest corner of the former grocery store and seats about 220. Takeout and delivery are available.

The building's remodel was "pretty substantial," said Mike DeBoer. "It was run down a little bit; it'd been sitting empty for about three years."

The business will start off with roughly 75 employees, he said, but with increased efficiencies, will drop to about 50 full- and part-time employees.
The group had considered Austin for its next restaurant a few years ago.

"At that time, though, the economy had taken a downturn," he said. "Morale was down, so it seemed not the time. But I came back here again when this leasing opportunity came open, and I just thought, 'Let's do it.'"

June 24, 2011

Halcyon days at Halcon

I think it is really interesting that a significant percentage of the highest end furniture in big corporate offices on both coasts and everywhere else was made in Olmsted County.

Two of the top competitors in that niche are based right here - Tuohy in Chatfield and Halcon in Stewartville.

I wrote about a new product line from Tuohy in Thursdays column and today I followed that with a piece about Halcon winning a top industry award and expanding its Stewartville plant.

The slow bounce back of the corporate office market is good for both of those companies and for two local communities.

Here's some from my piece today on Halcon. The full deal is in today's print edition.


These are sunny days, even halcyon days, at Halcon in Stewartville.

As the high-end office furniture maker gears up for an expansion to accommodate its growth, its new product line won top honors at the industry's most prestigious show.

Earlier this month, Halcon's new Motus Collection of transformable executive tables, cabinet and accessories won the Best of Competition Award at NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 2011.

Motus table "It is a really big achievement," says Executive Vice President Ben Conway.

 The conference, the largest of its kind in the United States, is where companies such as Steelcase and Herman Miller show off their new office furniture designs.

"It's where everybody goes to compete," he says. "We're just this small company in Stewartville competing against billion-dollar corporations."

Halconmotus1 Halcon's new Motus Collection was named the best out of all of the 325 new products on display at the show.
These awards put the cherry on the top of what Conway describes as "a huge rebound year" for Halcon.

After picking up many new contracts, the manufacturer plans to add to its workforce of more than 200 people.

And Halcon is about ready to break ground on a new 12,000-square-foot expansion expected to be finished by October.