Aggressive Hydraulics, the 50-employee manufacturer started by several shop-floor veterans 12 years ago who believed they could compete with Asian producers, completed its move last week to a new, $5 million factory in East Bethel.

“We’re all in a little bit of a daze,” reported CEO Paul Johnson, “This is such a nice facility. Everybody has been working hard, a lot of overtime. Monday was our first full day, making the final connections to our machines and getting the bugs out.”

Despite preparations and the move, which started weeks ago, May shipments reached a record $1.5 million for the growing company that makes hydraulic pistons for heavy equipment in the construction, mining and energy industries. And this should be the best-ever year for the 12-year-old company, which is benefiting from the “on-shoring” trend that’s also buoyed other U.S. manufacturers.

“We sure have the orders coming in,” Johnson said.

At Aggressive, which struggled for two-plus years to get financing for the expansion, the five owner-managers put down $800,000 of their own money, or about 20 percent. St. Paul-based BankCherokee was the lead lender. About $500,000 in financing was provided by the Minneapolis-based Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD), which typically focuses on hard-to-do inner-city deals, and the city of East Bethel, which will get paid back from property taxes on the new plant. I wrote last fall about Aggressive as an example of solid small businesses that have been hard-pressed for expansion capital in the more conservative ­underwriting days since the Great Recession.

Aggressive had operated from three smaller facilities in Blaine.

Danish Hearing aid maker ReSound renovates Minnesota HQ

The Bloomington-based U.S. headquarters of ReSound, the Danish hearing-technology manufacturer, is undergoing a $2.5 million renovation that is expected to be completed in September.

Kim Herman, president of 435-employee ReSound USA, said business is growing and the company is hiring.

“The hearing aid industry grows 3 to 4 percent per year and we’ve been consistently growing faster than the industry,” Herman said last week. “The devices are smaller and packed with technology.’’

ReSound is the hearing aid arm of Denmark’s GN Store Nord. About half of ReSound’s revenue comes from North America.

In 2010, ReSound released the industry’s first wireless hearing aid, and in January it released the first accessory that allows customers to control hearing aids from smartphones.

Herman, a medical-products industry veteran, was president of Minneapolis-based Coloplast USA, a subsidiary of another Danish firm, until she joined ReSound about a year ago.

The Twin Cities area is home to Eden Prairie-based Starkey Hearing Technologies, and is the U.S. hub for five other global hearing aid manufacturers, including Plymouth-based Miracle-Ear, the North American flagship of its Italian parent company, Amplifon.

Switzerland-based Unitron, another hearing aid maker, two years ago completed an expanded headquarters and manufacturing center in Plymouth for its more than 200 employees.

BMO draw a bead on Minnesota’s millionaires

BMO Private Bank, the wealth management arm of BMO Harris Bank, is out with an interesting statistic on the rich.

Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota’s millionaires claim they are self-made, one of the highest percentages in the country, according to the first in what the Chicago-based bank says will be a series of studies on Minnesota’s well-heeled. Nationally, the percent claiming they are self-made is 67 percent.

Minnesota’s wealthy also tend to be older than the national average. Only 10 percent are under 40. Nationally, about 25 percent under 40.

BMO defined the wealthy as people with investable assets of $1 million or more. The state has about 115,575 millionaire households by that definition, according to other industry stats, ranking us No. 17 in the nation in terms of the ratio of rich households to total households.

The bank said it’s using the survey to better understand the market.

Here’s how the Minnesotans answered some key questions:


My wealth was …

Primarily generated by me 78%

Primarily generated by my spouse 15%

From my divorce 1%

Inherited 1%


The survey was done last spring and covered a random sample of 482 wealthy U.S. adults, including 40 in Minnesota. BMO Harris, part of Canada’s huge Bank of Montreal, entered the Twin Cities in 2011.



• Newgate School, the skills-building nonprofit founded nearly 40 years ago by Ron Severson, a one-time U of M instructor, will hold its first-ever open house on June 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Newgate, located in southeast Minneapolis, has trained thousands of disadvantaged young adults in auto mechanics and auto body repair, funded by the proceeds from donated cars that it fixes and sells, as well as donations from admirers. More information:

• Noble House Hotels has opened the Commons Hotel on Washington Avenue in Stadium Village on the east bank of the University of Minnesota, following a $15 million overhaul by owner RockBridge Capital. The hotel formerly was part of the Radisson chain. The new management says the Commons Hotel “gives nod to a geek-chic persona — incorporating a theme of contrasts inspired by its collegiate ties to the university and industrial history of the Twin Cities.” Gotta see this.

• Little Falls Community High School, a first-place winner, and Mounds View High School were among the eight school teams that were finalists in this spring’s 13th Annual National Economics Challenge in New York City, sponsored by the Council for Economics Education. The Council’s personal-finance and economics education is used by 5 million K-12 students annually.