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Biz Buzz: Cross-Tech rebounds from fire

Cross-Tech Manufacturing is rebounding from extensive damage from a March 6 fire.

The Crosslake business is a nationwide leader in the manufacture of hydraulic rotary brush cutters, manufacturing the Brush Wolf line. After the fire, a company goal was to not lose a single customer, even temporarily, because of the fire damage.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” said Roger Roy, who owns the business with Scott Freiberg. Given a difficult situation, Roy said that’s the best that could have happened.

Roy said other manufacturers contracted distributors and offered to help but Cross-Tech was determined not to lose one piece of business in the fire’s aftermath.

“We don’t want to lose a thing and I think we have that accomplished,” Roy said.

Days now include working with insurance adjusters and on plans to rebuild. The days hours after the fire were surreal, Roy said, and the days following were sleepless.

Roy said the fire is believed to have started on the ceiling from an overhead light. There was a quick progression from the first signs of smoke to flames coming through the roof.

The fire inflicted a mortal blow to the company’s assembly area. The building is expected to be torn down in early April, perhaps the start of the second week. A new building will be erected in its place. Lost in the fire was the company’s sand-blasting and powder-coating equipment and oven.

The business is shipping out its powder-coating. The shipping and assembly work is moving into available space at Northern Lakes Electric for the time-being.

Roy thinks a new building will be in place by June or July. Cross-Tech is utilizing the same builder, Structural Builders from Decker, who did the addition.

Attentive firefighters and a fire door saved a 15,000-square-foot addition from the manufacturing plant’s older building. In total, the business covered 27,000-square-feet. If the new portion had been lost to the fire, rebounding may have been a challenge.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Roy said of the firefighters. “I couldn’t be grateful enough. ... I think we are pretty fortunate.”

Firefighters, 40 to 50 of them, appeared to be working seamlessly together even though they were from six different area departments. Roy said he was impressed at their efficiency and coordination. He noted Crosslake firefighters came out three times a day to check for lingering hot spots and put out the last one on March 11.

“This year was going to be a big breakout year for us,” Roy said, noting the company’s expansion with sales representatives into southern areas of the county. “We expected great things.”

Roy said even now, with one hand tied behind the company’s back, he is confident in the future. Roy said the city of Crosslake is working with the company on permits.

“The city will work with us to get us back on our feet as soon as possible,” he said. “I think we are going to come out of it better.”

“The whole community came together,” Roy said, noting support from other businesses as well, including those who are storing equipment for Cross-Tech. “It amazes us these people came through to help us out in our time of need.”

Career highlight. In 2009, Minnesota became the first state in the nation authorizing the licensing of dental therapists and the certification of advanced dental therapists.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported “there new professions practice as part of a dental team to provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services, including non-complicated restorations and extractions.”

Conclusions in a February report on early impacts of dental therapists included:

■ The dental therapy workforce is growing and appears to be fulfilling statutory intent by serving predominantly low-income, uninsured and underserved patients.

■ Benefits include direct costs savings, increased dental team productivity, improved patient satisfaction and lower appointment fail rates.

The report noted “despite Minnesota’s overall high rankings nationally in health generally and oral health specifically, significant disparities exist for the state’s low-income residents, people of color and the elderly. ... Significant numbers of Minnesotans lack access to basic oral health care.”

More than 70 percent of Minnesota counties (62 out of 87) are fully or partially designated as health professional shortage areas for dental care, meaning 656,184 Minnesotans live in areas lacking sufficient dental clinicians, the report noted. Crow Wing, Cass, Morrison, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Wadena and Todd were all in the list of counties with health professional shortage designations.

As of August 2012, 45 percent of the state’s licensed dentists were 55 years or older.

Minnesota had 27 licensed dental therapists as of August of 2013, three of whom were also certified as advanced dental therapists. Of the 27, the state reported 24 were actively employed.

Nearly two-thirds of the state’s dental therapists worked in clinics located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Half of the dental therapists worked in nonprofit clinic settings, while a third worked in either solo or small private practice settings and the balance worked in hospital or academic settings.

More than three-fourths (82 percent) of the dental therapists had a master’s degree.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law last week allowing a process for certain county offices to be made by appointment instead of having voters elect the positions. The bill gives that option to Jackson, Lake, Clay, Kandiyohi and Lyon counties. The bill passed the House 85-42 and the Senate 42-21. Crow Wing County previously expressed an interest in appointing two positions instead of having voters elect candidates for auditor-treasurer and recorder while retaining elected officials in the jobs as county attorney and county sheriff.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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