LUCK, Wis. -- St. Croix Valley Hardwoods, Inc. is celebrating 35 years in business. Gordon Fick, owner of the company, started the dry kiln operations back in 1981 along with three others. In the beginning he would be out selling during the day, and run the orders at night.

The company is located in Luck, Wisconsin, in the former Duncan YoYo factory, about 75 miles north of the Twin Cities.

There were two kilns when Fick purchased the factory. He then added a pre dryer, three kilns, and in 2005 he added three more kilns to make it eight total. Fick also purchased a single kiln operation in Siren, Wisconsin, that dried mainly red oak. Cabinet components were started at the dry kiln facility until it got too big and ran out of room. In April of 1997 the company’s wood components building was put up, and operational with a day and night shift producing cabinet components, with truckloads of drawer parts going out on a daily basis.

In 2004, Fick purchased a building and had a retail store set up to offer mouldings, plywood, lumber and hardwood flooring and paneling, an end matcher was purchased and a license was established for St. Croix’s Luckwood hardwood flooring and paneling which was sold through their retail store, intended for do it yourself customer and the local contractors. In 2013 St. Croix closed the store and sold the building.

St. Croix Valley was selling plywood and melamine drawer parts to help sell the whole package to the cabinet industry and eventually built a warehouse in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and made this a distribution yard and delivered products to the five-state area.  This was part of a full service line of products for their high end cabinet manufacturing customers. In 2011 Fick made the decision to sell the White Bear Lake facility to Aetna plywood.

In October of 2015 a purchase offer was brought to Fick and he made the decision to sell the dry kilns portion of the business to McDonald and Owens, a move that was seen as a way to strengthen the division with the backing of a larger company.

Since 1981, St. Croix Valley Hardwoods has added two new Weinig moulders, RF gluer, an Opti-match panel maker, two Eagle chopsaws attached to the chopline, Mereen Johnson gang ripsaws, straightlines, clamp carrier, double end tenoner, two dovetail machines, new Timesavers planer sander and more. At the company’s peak, it had more than 130 employees.

As Fick has been selling off the separate divisions the questions have come up as to what is happening to St. Croix Valley Hardwoods? According to the company, they are better and stronger than ever and continue to serve current and future customers.

The company felt the effects of the recession, and had to lay off quite a few of their employees, some of whom were there for many years. Company sales dropped and they struggled like many of their competitors.

According to St. Croix, the company stuck with the cold calling and continued to seek out new customers. Loyal customers who made it through and stuck with the company are still with them.  St. Croix is back to gaining strength and its sales are back up, and they have been attaining new customers and welcoming new ventures.

With more customers requesting a finished drawer part, in December of 2015 St. Croix signed an agreement to purchase a new Dubois UV roll coater and is currently up and operational and ready for more orders. The company is producing and selling drawer parts in aspen, soft maple, birch, white hard maple, and other special requests.

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