Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach was in northwest Minnesota on Monday to tour the flooding in the Red River Valley. While in the area, she stopped by Dee Inc. and toured the aluminum foundry and machine shop facilities. The foundry is 75,000 square feet, and the machine shop is 25,000 square feet. “We were in the area talking with some of the city, and county officials,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. “We met with Sheriff’s and Fire Chiefs and talked about the flooding and their response to the floods and learning a little more about that and making sure they have the resources they need.”
Nick Nicholas of Dee Inc. led the tour and explained what each area was and what they do in each station and area. Congresswoman Fischbach has been touring businesses throughout the 7th District as she likes to learn more about them. “We always like to see what is going on at companies in the area, how the employees are doing, and what the companies are up to,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. “Something we learn at every place is the spread they have. Things are being exported to Germany, things are coming in, and you learn the global spread that companies have right here in the 7th District.”
Congresswoman Fischbach got to see how they make parts like diesel engine components, filtration components for Team Industries, Toro, Arctic Cat, Donaldson out of Minneapolis, Detroit Diesel, Cummins Diesel, and Rolls Royce. “There are a lot of exciting things about what is being done in Crookston and the people that are employed,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. “We hear about workforce issues across the district and across the country. But, it seems like they (Dee Inc.) have a handle on what they do and their plans going forward. So I am excited about that.”
Dee Inc. Vice President/GM Paul Cwikla said they were able to get Congresswoman Fischbach to tour the facilities because of a contact the CEO of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, the new owners of Dee Inc., had with the Congresswoman. “Our CEO, through the American Founders Society, had contacts with the Congresswoman’s office, and they connected us,” said Cwikla. “We showed her the foundry and machine shop and talked about labor. We talked about all the issues we are having in manufacturing in northern Minnesota. We talked about the shortage of truck drivers and getting trucking and parts in. We talked about different ideas for subsidies for equipment.”
Dee Inc. has been under the ownership of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry since March. All employees immediately received a two dollar per hour raise and received other benefits to help with daycare. Cwikla said it has been a great transition, and they are looking for up to 30 new employees.
Crookston Mayor Dale Stainbrook and Polk County Commissioner Joan Lee were also on the tour. Congresswoman Fischbach told Mayor Stainbrook to keep in touch with her office, especially when it comes to cleaning up after the flooding.