By: Catherine Kavanaugh
May 13, 2014
Minnkota Windows is building a 78,000-square foot facility that will more than double its space for making PVC products in North Dakota — the fastest growing state in the nation.
General manager Brad Bushaw expects the 34-year-old business to move from its current location in Fargo to the new plant and offices four miles away in West Fargo during the first quarter of 2015.
“We’ve added on as much as we could to our existing facility,” Bushaw said. “We’re growing and our bottleneck in the last couple years has been work stations. The new building will alleviate that.”
In the next few years, Minnkota also plans to add 10-15 employees to the 48 workers it has.
The company manufactures vinyl windows and patio doors with several production partners, including Rehau as the lineal extruder, and then distributes them in 13 states and the province of Manitoba, Canada.
“We’ve grown every year for 30-plus years and we didn’t have any setbacks even during the recession,” Bushaw said. “Our region of the upper Midwest was somewhat insulated from that because of the strong agricultural and growing oil industries. That kind of kept us out of the recession.”
New construction accounts for a big part of Minnkota’s growth. However, the increase in window orders isn’t directly related to the oil rush in western North Dakota, where developers are building multi-family projects as fast as they can for thousands of job seekers.
“Price is the most important factor in multi-family construction,” Bushaw said. “We make a high-end product so we’re not shipping product to build the duplexes and apartments.”
Minnkota is benefiting from the ripple effect of the oil boom in a couple other ways. First, the influx of workers with decent paychecks to spend on goods and services has helped most facets of the economy thrive. A lot of people have more disposable income. And, home prices have more than tripled in some towns, making it a good time for some residents to move up.
“What’s happening is more money is floating around and changing hands so our dealers are busy fixing up peoples’ homes,” Bushaw said. “People are trading up and doing remodels.”
Sales of Minnkota’s premier Euro-series windows with elegant designs and tilt-turn features have almost doubled since the product line was introduced in 2012.
“That’s part of the reason we felt so cramped,” Bushaw said.
The window maker also has expanded its footprint considerably in the last few years, reaching into Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska and more parts of Iowa. Other dealers have been with Minnkota for three decades.
Minnkota officials had considered investing $5.3 million in an existing building back in 2011 but the configuration and size did not meet the business’s production needs, Bushaw said. He declined to say how much Minnkota is spending to construct a new facility except that it is more than the scrapped plan of three years ago.