Last year the construction company Northstar Systembuilt met with city officials about buying property in the industrial park on the north side of town.
The company’s goal: build a new, 36,000 square foot facility for building housing modules, bringing at least another 15 highly-skilled jobs to town.
By June, 2012, everything was all arranged, and the tax abatement was approved by the city council — then the project didn’t happen.
Not to worry. It turns out Northstar Systembuilt found a better solution to its needs: an existing warehouse that formerly housed several other businesses, including Rice Home Medical, currently building its own new facility on Bridge St.
“Our current plan is to start moving in on June 17,” said Rick Zitzmann, director of Northstar Systembuilt, last week.
“We found an existing 53,000 square foot space that was larger than what we had originally planned,” said Barry Paskewitz, director of Northstar Systembuilt.
One reason for the change was Northstar’s changing their business model.
“We’re going to be targeting the hospitality industry rather than single dwellings,” said Zitzmann. “We’ve just finished building a 154-room motel in North Dakota, and are currently building a 216 unit building.”
Northstar Systembuilt basically creates finished rooms on an assembly line, with subcontractors finishing some tasks such as drywalling. Then the modules are shipped to the site and assembled into the finished structure.
“Much of the equipment we need is already in the existing building,” said Zitzmann, saying it already includes a crane system, and required insulation pumps and blowers.
“Basically, they’re coming into a building that’s ready to roll,” said building owner Scott Barber, of AirTec Systems, Inc. “The facility is oversized for (AirTec), but works perfectly for them, so I’ve leased them the entire facility.”
The current plan is to fill the facility with a U-shaped assembly line with 11 stations, with room to add later if necessary.
Northstar Systembuilt was founded in Marshall in 1995, and is still based there.
However, the current plan is to move the entire business to Redwood Falls, along with all employee.
“Our staff will be moving with us; they’re currently looking for apartments or rental units,” said Zitzmann.
“We had looked at other towns, but nothing matched the way Redwood Falls approached us,” said Paskewitz.
Zitzmann said, “The city’s been great to work with — the city council, Mayor Gary Revier, City Administrator Keith Muetzel, from day one the whole city’s been so receptive.”
“From a timing standpoint, it made sense to terminate the tax abatement now,” said Zitzmann. “Our long-term view for Redwood Falls hasn’t changed, our business model has changed. When Scott’s building came up, it was much better for us than what we were going to build new.”