Wyoming Machine | Stacy
LINDAR | Baxter
The Teehive | Baxter By Maria Surma Manka
Photography by John Linn and Michael Schoenecker
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many industries throughout Central Minnesota. “Our revenue went to zero practically overnight, at a time of year that is typically our busiest,” said Ian Ulrich, director of sales and marketing at The Teehive (theteehive.com), an apparel printer and decorator in Baxter. But with crisis also comes opportunity, and local businesses showed creativity and resilience in fighting for their and their employees’ safety and livelihoods.
After revenue projections plummeted, the majority of The TeeHive’s workforce was laid off. But through a series of community connections and creative thinking, the company pivoted from creating dance costumes and custom apparel for sports teams to masks and isolation gowns. As a result, they’ve brought back nearly all of their employees.
Wyoming Machine (wyomingmachine.com), a sheet metal fabricator that’s headquartered in Stacy, was watching COVID-19 events closely when it got an order for wear plates that was double their typical annual order volume. “We didn’t know that the wear plate we manufactured ended up in medical ventilators!” said Traci Tapani, the company’s co-president and the chair of the Initiative Foundation’s board of directors.
At LINDAR (lindarcorp.com), a plastic thermoforming company in Baxter, operations expanded from food packaging, paint products and commercial agriculture and industrial equipment to face shields. “We were suddenly making 15,000 – 20,000 face shields a week and couldn’t keep up with demand,” said Don Gaalswyk, manufacturing manager. We checked in with these three business leaders to learn more about how the pandemic reshaped their businesses.