Wednesday, November 22, 2006

DCI in Holdingford

Here is the history of DCI written by Richard Konsor (written in 1995 for the 40th anniversary of DCI)

"I guess my twin brother Fred and I have always been building something. One of my earliest memories is of a sawmill-the blade was made of the end of a tin can and the logs were stalks of rhubarb! I can't quite remember what we had for a carriage, but we had one.

Much of what we were building was to help our Pa's farm. One of our projects was to improve a five-section harrow. We figured it'd be much easier to move if it would fold up; thus we hinged it so it would fold onto the center section that had the wheels. We thought the idea worth sharing so we wrote to International Harvester. Their reply was, "if something like that could be made, our engineers would have already developed it'!

Most things we made needed to be bolted together. Electric welding was just getting started. Fred and I started welding on our farm after first making our own welder using a Model Ford engine and two starter generators from an old Dodge car. In the 1920's Dodge cars had a 12 volt starter generator and we had to wind new field coils to make enough current for a welder. Next we had to learn how to weld after we had it finished! We did welding on the farm for customers, and one year we made 75 farm wagons from Chevrolet front car axles that had disc wheels. And that is how we got started in the welding business!

Fred and I went into the service for two and a half years during World War 11, and when we came back we started a shop in Holdingford in 1946 called Konsor Welding (at the present day location of Jim's Snowmobile and Marine). We did welding repairs and made wagons, etc. One day the local creamery wanted us to repair a stainless steel vat. Now we had never welded on stainless before, but we would tackle almost any job. When the repair job turned out ok, they wanted us to build a new vat. We then repaired an old horizontal stainless tank that was poorly built, and later they wanted us to build them a new horizontal tank-which we did.

A little later the buffer makers from Freeport and Villard wanted us to build each location a horizontal tank-5,000 gallons, I think. We didn't have much experience yet, but we took the job. As we didn't know where to got some of the parts needed, they went and picked up some peephole fittings, agitator shafts and propellers. I believe they obtained these parts from Stainless and Steel Products in St. Paul.

We made coned heads for the first tank as we didn't have any equipment to make dished heads then. We also made a horizontal tank for the Watkins' Creamery and did some repair work there. As our shop was small, we had to make the outside jacket first, and then build the stainless one on top of it.

would then wrap the jacket around the liner. Ralph Mader of Holdingford was our first employee. And dedicated he was! He stayed with the company for 32 years until he retired.

About the time we were building the Watkins tank, Bill Haggerty (the Watkins buftermaker) went deer hunting with the owner of Owatonna Creamery Supply, and Bill must have told him that he was having a tank made in Holdingford. Before the owner went back to Owatonna, he came to Holdingford to see what we were doing because he was selling tanks he was having made in Chicago. He then asked us if we would make some tanks for him.

At this time Carl Nielsen was a salesman for Owatonna Creamery Supply and the owner sent Carl to Holdingford with a tank order from them. He wondered if we could build one of that size--I think it was a 5,000 gallon tank. We took the order and when it was finished they sent their truck to pick it up.

We needed agitators for these tanks, so we bought them from Stainless and Steel Products in St. Paul. By then I think they were getting wise or suspicious of us, as one time they wanted to know what the serial number of the tank was. They thought we were installing the agitator on one of their tanks that didn't have any. We told them it was a tank we were building...and that was the end of getting any more agitators from them. It was a good thing, as then we made our own-befter and cheaper!

With the building of the tanks we got to see Carl Nielsen quite often. One day he inquired about going into business together. This was favorable to Fred and me and so Dairy Craft (later called DCI) was formed. We stayed in our little shop until 1955. We then bought the former Ford Garage, which now belongs to Polar. Years later Dairy Craft moved to St. Cloud because of space and rail transportation."
For more of the story you can read excerpts of of DCI from a historical account byCarl Nielson who was co-founder and President of DCI Inc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to note how many young men from Holdingford area started with DCI and honed their skills and went on make a career in stainless steel fabrication.