Lincoln Olson explains advanced manufacturing processes to teacher Matt Sundberg and a captive audience of Marshall County Central high school students at the Fourth Annual Manufacturing Day in Thief River Falls October 15.
On October 15, I had the opportunity to tour Northern Woodwork Inc. along with Matt Sundberg, a teacher from Marshall County Central school district and ten students from his “Intro to Construction” class. The tour was part of the Fourth Annual Manufacturing Days at Lincoln High School. Students from Thief River Falls and seven other school districts participated.
Sundberg feels it’s well worth the effort to bring the students to the event. “It is a neat opportunity for them to see the different types of manufacturing businesses out there,” Sundberg said. “People aren’t aware of what goes on in these smaller manufacturers, and generally speaking, they do not realize how many small manufacturers there are locally.
“People drive by this place every day and have no idea what goes on here,” Sundberg continued, and he’s probably right. People who drive by the Northern Woodwork Inc. building along Highway 59 may have noticed the building, but it is safe to say that most of the public are not aware of what the company makes or what jobs they provide.
We were given the royal treatment by co-owners Corey Teie and Lincoln Olson, who walked us through each part of the facility and gave us the opportunity to see advanced manufacturing equipment operated by skilled employees.
Northern Woodwork Inc. does commercial projects, creating cabinetry, counters, and casework. The company doesn’t do any residential projects. “We do commercial buildings like clinics, hospitals, schools, court rooms, things like that,” Olson said. Local projects have included the reception area at Lincoln High School and the new Pennington County Justice Center.
Olson described the company’s products and processes as “state-of-the art.” All of the products the company makes are engineered locally. Olson encouraged students to consider attending Northland Community and Technical College. “They have an excellent Architecture/Drafting/Design program there,” he said.
Northern Woodwork began as a window and sash manufacturer and was incorporated in 1920. Since then, the company has adapted to meet changing industry needs, evolving from a company that primarily works with hardwoods to a company that works with plastic laminates, solid surfaces, acrylics, and metals. The 30,000 square foot manufacturing plant is equipped with the most current slabbing methods, optimized cutting, CNC machining, and automated edgebanding.
The company currently employs 23 people.The value they place on their workforce is evident in their employee retention. Many have been with the company for decades.
In addition to the tour of Northern Woodwork Inc., students attended sessions at Lincoln High School, where they had the opportunity to learn about advanced manufacturing, welding, and automation.
Manufacturing Day was sponsored by Ericco Manufacturing, North Dakota State College of Science, Northland Community and Technical College, Arctic Cat, Northern Woodwork Inc., and Lincoln High School.