Made in River Falls, USA; breakfast event spotlights local manufacturersThe monthly business breakfast hosted by the River Falls Chamber of Commerce at the West Wind Supper Club drew a big crowd Thursday, May 17. It featured local manufacturers and a discussion about locally made products.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The monthly business breakfast hosted by the River Falls Chamber of Commerce at the West Wind Supper Club drew a big crowd Thursday, May 17. It featured local manufacturers and a discussion about locally made products.
Though many manufacturing companies make their home in River Falls, the breakfast event featured three companies: Fiberstar, Rush River Brewing Company, and Riverland Laser.
Residents have seen this company, represented by CEO Dale Lindquist, in the news before.
Founded in 1998, it moved 10 years later from Ellsworth to the River Falls Industrial Center on St. Croix Street.
The company makes natural plant-based ingredients -- think discarded citrus pulp -- for use in a broad variety of products.
Fiberstar was also named as one of the state’s 2010 Companies to Watch, and “Inc.” magazine recognized Fiberstar in 2011 as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies.
The business expanded in 2010 by building a new production facility in Brazil.
Lindquist said at the breakfast the business has 14 employees and that about 80% of its product is exported. He named some of Fiberstar’s clients -- Nestle, Schwann’s and Weight Watchers.
Lindquist gave information about the company’s main, proprietary products.
CitriFi is an all-natural ingredient made from citrus pulp that is used to replace the fattening, oily substances typically used to keep a product fresh and moist, plus it reduces the caloric content and bake time of most products.
Imulsi-Fi is a natural thickener and emulsion stabilizer used in all kinds and combinations of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, personal-care and industrial products such as paint and ink.
Lindquist gave the example that CitriFi could be used in coleslaw and would prevent all the dressing from draining off the ingredients.
Partner owner-operators Nick Anderson and Dan Chang told the story of how they started brewing beer in a garage in Maiden Rock then as the company grew, it looked for a bigger place.
It worked a deal for a building in the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park, opening there in the summer 2007.
Anderson said the company makes English-style brews that are not filtered or pasteurized.
The partners have added a bottling operation and more capacity. They said about 60% of their business comes from the Twin Cities, and 40% originates in western Wisconsin.
Anderson joked that the company isn’t quite global yet -- its sales territory stretches from Duluth, Minn. to Rochester and from Madison to Alexandria, Minn.
As the company’s main, full-time employees, Anderson and Chang said they do everything from brewing the beer to sweeping the floors.
The partners enjoy being a small company -- able to simply talk about good ideas and implement them right away.
Cheryl and Chris Iverson bought Riverland Laser in 2009 from local, retiring, businessman Dale Jorgenson.
Cheryl explained to the breakfast crowd that Riverland is a laser-marking business with nine employees.
She said the company marks all kinds of items from award plaques to medical devices. Cheryl said the company works for clients all over the country, as well as many locally.
She said Riverland has the honor of creating the plaques for such local awards as Roots and Bluegrass Music Festival winners; Rotarian of the Year; top bean-burrito eater at River Falls days, which one year was a toilet seat; top emergency responders; as well as various others for UW-River Falls, school athletic programs…whatever people need.
Iverson said Riverland customers have come to know it for expedited orders and quality inspection of the product.
For example, if a client sends something to be marked that Riverland professionals know won’t pass inspection, they confer with the client before doing the work.
She explained that the company’s method of marking uses no chemicals or solvents, “It’s basically a light beam.”
Most residents might never realize how many manufacturers make River Falls home:
- Air Motion Systems makes high-performance UV drying/curing systems for the printing industry
- American Test Center tests large hydraulic equipment
- Auto Physics makes electronic components
- Best Maid Cookie Company bakes cookies and many other goods
- BioDiagnostics produces research and development for the seed industry
- Crystal Finishing Systems does electroplating, plating, polishing, anodizing and coloring
- Designer Doors creates high-end custom-made doors of all kinds
- Eco Source provides biotechnology research and development
- Erickson Industries makes air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment
- Fashion-Aire makes blinds, draperies and curtains
- Foley United makes saw blades
- Interfacial Solutions provides high-technology and scientific solutions to a variety of manufacturing clients
- Melgaard Monument produces monuments and many other types of stone markers
- Minnesota Rubber & Plastics produces plastics for several industries
- NCCM manufactures high-tech rollers used in pre-production equipment
- NELA makes printing-press equipment and solutions
- O’Keefe builds cabinets, showcases, partitions, shelving and lockers
- ProtoMAX makes special dies, tools and jigs
- Sajan offers translation and interpretation services and specialized software
- Viking Coca-Cola bottles soft drinks for local routes
- WC Branham produces vehicle brake systems.