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Finch, Hoiseth visit Crookston's major manufacturers

New to Crookston from Kansas, City Administrator Amy Finch joins CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth to see for herself the driving force behind Crookston's economy

Times Report
City Administrator Amy Finch takes the wheel of an all electric transit bus assembled at New Flyer, destined for Montreal with facility manager David Rhodes and CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth look on.

Over this past week, in recognition of Manufacturing Week, City Administrator Amy Finch and CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth visited Crookston’s major manufacturers and met with their leadership. Stops included Eickhof Columbaria, American Crystal Sugar, SunOpta, DEE Inc. and New Flyer of America

“It was beneficial to be afforded this opportunity to learn more about each business and spend time touring these facilities,” Hoiseth said in detailing the visits.

At American Crystal Sugar, Finch is pictured with Ryan Wall, the Crookston factory manager.  He is showing Finch and Hoiseth the wet hopper as a Transystems semi trailer is tilted over allowing for the unloading of the truck load of sugar beets.  The beets enter into the factory via water flowing in at this location.
Paul Eickhof, owner of Eickhof Columbaria, shows Finch and Hoiseth an example of a columbarium and discusses patents the company holds.

“Crookston is so very fortunate to have the diversification of businesses in the manufacturing sector.  We are blessed that each company is a true industry leader and employs so many people from our community and the region,” he said. “The jobs that are available at each facility are very highly skilled, technology driven, with wages and compensation packages being robust and competitive.”

Crookston also benefits because its manufacturers are extremely committed to Crookston and give back to the community in a wide variety of ways, he added.

SunOpta plant manager Mike Winger hands City Administrator Finch some snack bags of sunflower seeds processed and packaged at the facility.

Hoiseth said the fact that Manufacturers Week closely coincided with Finch’s arrival as new City of Crookston administrator was especially beneficial because it gave her an opportunity to witness the backbone of the local economy.

At DEE Inc Finch and Hoiseth are pictured with Sales Manager Paul Cwikla, on the left.  The part they are all looking at in the box is an Intake Manifold for a Series 4000 MTU diesel engine.

“She not only got to see five fantastic businesses in operation, but also met several community leaders along the way,” he said. “I so appreciate Amy's desire to have a comprehensive understanding of Crookston. At each stop, we had the chance to ask these key businesses specifically ‘what can we as a city do for you?’ The feedback received is so valuable as Amy and I shape our common strategy and vision for the future.”

At DEE Inc., Paul Cwikla shows Finch and Hoiseth a Cross-Arm for a Toro Company mower.  The machinist in the background is Jeff Sundeen.

Note: The Times has reached out to Finch for her thoughts on her visits and tours, and she will be responding soon. When she does, this story will be updated.