Staff Directory 10644746

Dee DePass

Reporter | Manufacturing
phone: 612-673-7725
Dee DePass covers the manufacturing industry for the Star Tribune with an eye toward new products and technology, job growth and distribution developments in Minnesota.
Recent content from Dee DePass
The co-owners of Wyoming Machine in Stacy, Minn.: Traci Tapani, left, and her sister Lori. They say the company is growing and needs workers, and othe

Minn. manufacturers' profits soar, but a labor shortage looms

Enterprise Minnesota's State of Manufacturing survey identified hiring and retention as firms' top challenge.
Daikin Applied North America already employs 900 workers in its plants in Faribault and Owatonna.

Daikin Applied plans expansion north of Faribault

The company is seeking public investment for a project that will add a third plant in southeast Minnesota.

Jurors hear tearful testimony in lawsuit over 3M's Bair Hugger patient-warming system

Surgeon says he banned the Bair Hugger system from his operating room.
3M's Bair Hugger patient warming system is depicted in a company provided image. ORG XMIT: MIN1511131845130580

Lawyers square off on Day 1 of 3M Bair Hugger trial

The trial over whether the warming device caused an infection in a surgery patient could influence thousands of similar suits pending against the company.
Denney Hecker is pictured after his release from Hennepin County Jail in 2010. (TOM SWEENEY/Star Tribune file photo)

$100,000 in unclaimed checks will go to Denny Hecker's creditors

Bankruptcy trustee in Hecker case settles with state of Minnesota over unclaimed checks.
John Banovetz, senior vice president for research and development and chief technology officer, at 3M Global Headquarters in Maplewood.

3M's chief technology officer talks about company's future in electric vehicles, China

John Banovetz talked about future trends, products and growth opportunities for the Maplewood giant that boasts $31 billion in annual sales.
John P. Wiehoff, the CEO of the Eden Prairie-based transportation firm C.H. Robinson Worldwide (LEILA NAVIDI/Star Tribune file photo)

C.H. Robinson reports 17 percent rise in profits, credits federal tax cuts and increased demand for its freight services

Company credits federal tax cuts, higher demand for its freight services.
Uponor in Apple Valley is one of the manufacturer that has been expanding in recent years. (GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune file photo)

Manufacturing in Minnesota and across Midwest grows for 17th straight month

Widely watched report shows both manufacturing activity, optimism were higher in April.
Ecolab headquarters in St. Paul (Provided photo)

Ecolab beats 1Q expectations with strong sales

Adjusted earnings rose to 91 cents a share, better than the 88 cents analysts expected.
nVent Electric CEO Beth Wozniak. (GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune)

Pentair officially splits into two with spinoff of nVent

Shares of nVent start trading Tuesday under the symbol NVT.
Beth Wozniak said she is excited to lead Pentair’s spinoff of its electrical unit, to be called nVent, which will be completed this week.

Pentair becomes two on Monday with the spinoff of nVent Electric PLC

New St. Louis Park-based firm starts trading on Tuesday
Protolabs recorded a record first quarter on Thursday. (BRUCE BISPING/Star Tribune file photo)

Protolabs tops $100 million in sales for first time in first quarter

Custom manufacturer Protolabs’ customer base is 22 percent larger than it was 12 months ago — and still growing. That surge of activity helped Protolabs…
Polaris introduced several new four-wheelers in the first quarter, including the RZR Turbo S.

Polaris sales rebound in first quarter

The company recorded strong results, beating Wall Street expectations, yet company shares lose 9 percent value on down market day.
3M headquarters in Maplewood

3M sees strong bump in sales across all units

The company met Wall Street expectations and saw growth in adjusted earnings.

Litigation dogs Lakeville Motors Express and LME 15 months after Roseville trucking firm shut down

NLRB, bankruptcy court, Teamsters sue over abrupt closure, layoffs in 2016.
Mike Fiterman, CEO of Liberty Diversified International, right, and his son Jack, a vice president, stand among the rolls of paper that will become co

Buying spree continues for quiet parent of Liberty Paper

LDI sets sights on $1 billion in sales while investing in acquisitions, capital upgrades.

Pentair's first-quarter earnings beat expectations

The company's last quarter before a major spin off showed strong revenue and profit growth.
Former Starkey Laboratories president Jerry Ruzicka has appealed his conviction for fraud. He is show walking into the federal courthouse in Minneapol

New trial requests filed in Starkey white-collar crime case

The convicted former president of Starkey Laboratories and a former business associate filed a flurry of post-trial motions last week asking for a new trial…
3M's Jim Sax, left, and Andy Dubner showed a sign that has a bar code that will allow vehicles of the future to read the sign.

3M technology is front and center in move toward electric and autonomous cars

It's working across its business groups to develop a long menu of high-tech car products.
Randy Knadle, service manger at Cannon Power Sports Inc. in Cannon Falls, Minn., looked over a Polaris ATV General 1000 that has been recently recalle

Consumers seek class-action status in new lawsuit against Polaris

Plaintiffs say Polaris "knowingly made defective vehicles" and failed to notify customers quickly of fire hazards.
Thao Nguyen, an employee at Graco, works in March with tubes of carbon steel. A Creighton University report found a big jump in manufacturing activity

Midwest manufacturing expands for 16th straight month in March

New orders, trade, production provide big boost for Minnesota factories.
Polaris has paid a settlement regarding RZR 2014 to 2016 models. Pictured is a Polaris 2016 RZR turbo 1000 brought into Cannon Falls Sports for repair

Polaris hit with $27M penalty for failing to report vehicle problems

Company will comply with order, recalls more defective recreational vehicles.
Patrons leaving Surly in 2015. (AARON LAVINSKY/Star Tribune file photo)

Surly settles $2.5M lawsuit over alleged mandatory tip-pooling

Brewer will pay $2.5M to settle battle over mandatory pooling system.
Sectors seeing job gains included education and health care. Pictures is Hennepin County Medical Center's surgical intensive care unit. (GLEN STUBBE/S

Minnesota sees dip of 1,300 jobs in February

But the unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent.
Proto Labs is moving 225 workers to a new building in Brooklyn Park as its computerized manufacturing operation continues to expand.

Protolabs expanding again, this time in Brooklyn Park

The manufacturer bought a 152,000-square-foot building and already has plans to expand it.
AGCO in Jackson is starting an apprenticeship program for electrical mechanics and welding. Pictured is one of the tractor plant's welding robots.

Agco launches apprenticeship program in Jackson, Minn.

The maker of farm vehicles will hire 20 apprentices with state help.
Nobel Prize winner and climate change expert Mario Molina will be in the Twin Cities in April as part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative.

3M bringing three Nobel Prize winners to Twin Cities in April

The company is pairing with Nobel Media for the first Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative in the U.S.
Former Starkey Hearing Technologies president Jerry Ruzicka and former Starkey human resources manager Larry Miller, right, leave the federal courthou

Starkey trial talk of town as legal, business experts dissect split verdict

Defendants could get two to 13 years in prison, local legal experts said.
Jerry Ruzicka and W. Jeff Taylor were found guilty on multiple counts, while Larry Miller and Larry Hagen were found not guilty on a split verdict on

Former Starkey head Ruzicka found guilty of embezzlement

Jerry Ruzicka, the hearing aid company's former president, and W. Jeff Taylor, former president of a Starkey supplier, were found guilty on multiple counts. Two others, Larry Miller and Larry Hagen, were found not guilty.
The hospitality industry added workers last month in Minnesota.

Unemployment rate steady as Minnesota adds 2,500 jobs in January

Government hiring leads growth trends.
Michael Roman

3M selects Michael Roman to be next CEO

COO Michael Roman will replace Inge Thulin in July.
After 7½ years in prison, former Minnesota auto mogul Denny Hecker has been released to a prison halfway house in Minneapolis, according to the U.S.

Former auto mogul Denny Hecker released to halfway house in Mpls.

The former auto mogul was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2011 for defrauding Chrysler Financial and other automakers out of millions of dollars.

Man in custody after attempted rape foiled at MCTC, police say

Several students and campus security officers intervened after hearing a scream, according to reports.
John C. Conard, attorney for former Starkey President Jerry Ruzicka, spoke to the media in September.

The Starkey embezzlement case is now to the jurors

Closing arguments in the contentious trial took all of Friday.

Minnesota and Midwest manufacturers continue gains

The manufacturers reported to Creighton University an increase in exports, employment and inventories in February.
Starkey Labs owner Bill Austin, shown here fitting a girl for hearing aids in 2010.

Defendants in $20 million Starkey fraud case finish testimony

Closing arguments are expected to begin on Friday.
Starkey Laboratories owner Bill Austin A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Austin perjured himself at least once in his testimony in a $20 million embe

Federal judge rules that Starkey owner Bill Austin perjured himself

Order says prosecutors must strike false testimony from record.
Former Starkey president Jerome C. Ruzicka and former Starkey human resources manager Larry W. Miller (far right)

Government wraps up case, 2 defendants rest in Starkey fraud trial

"We've said everything that needed to be said," Ruzicka's counsel declares.
In testimony Wednesday, fired Starkey CFO Scott Nelson said Brandon Sawalich, shown, now the company’s president, cost the company millions.

Ex-Starkey CFO alleges sexual misconduct by Bill Austin's stepson

The fired executive Scott Nelson said Brandon Sawalich, now the company's president, cost the company millions.
Former Starkey CFO testifies for second day in fraud trial

Former Starkey CFO testifies for second day in fraud trial

The fired CFO testified that he made alterations to deceive Bill Austin.
Starkey Hearing Foundation founder, Bill Austin introduced former President George W. Bush at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala July 26, 2015 at the

Former Starkey CFO takes the stand in embezzlement trial against former executives

Scott Nelson says a key business setup in the case originally was suggested to save owner Bill Austin money.
Starkey Labs owner Bill Austin was flanked by actor Johnny Depp and rocker Alice Cooper at a Starkey Hearing Foundation event in 2016 at the River Cen

Starkey Labs owner tells federal court of his high-flying life

Bill Austin told of his transformation from modest businessman to billionaire, jetting around the world to help the hearing-impaired poor, and having a mystical experience in Mexico when he says an angel spoke through him.
Starkey founder Bill Austin, shown here fitting a girl for hearing aids in 2010.

Starkey's Bill Austin questioned about key company documents

Austin said defendants hid papers from him.
Technician Donovan Kobs prepared a friction stir welding system used in manufacturing for the aerospace industry to demonstrate a weld.

From rockets to nuclear plants, PaR Systems a maverick in robotics field

The Shoreview company has built machines to make rockets and help clean up the worst nuclear disasters.
Starkey Hearing Foundation founder, Bill Austin introduced former President George W. Bush at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala July 26, 2015 at the

Starkey owner testifies he never approved actions by former executives

Austin said he felt betrayed by the company's former president now on trial for embezzlement.
Starkey Hearing Foundation founder Bill Austin.

Starkey judge says defense attorneys will be able to question Austin on personal matters

Defendants get a tactical win as Austin's character will become a matter for jurors to consider.
Uponor North America in Apple Valley, Minn., partnered with Belkin International in California to develop a smart water assistant for homeowners.

Uponor joint venture produces device to let you know if there is a leak in your pipes

A new device warns homeowners of a water problem — from a faucet drip to a frozen pipe — and it can automatically shut service off to help prevent huge and costly damage.
Manufacturing continues to grow in Minnesota. Pictured is a 3M plant in Red Wing that makes safety harnesses. (JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune file photo)

Midwest manufacturing grows in January but at slower rate than December

Minnesota growth a bit slower than the region, but it is still strong.
Crowds use the skyway system on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis where Super Bowl Live is set up. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Need help navigating the skyways? There's an app for that

Honeywell has developed an app called Minneapolis Skyway Maps to help Super Bowl LII visitors.
Electrolux to close St. Cloud Frigidaire plant at end of 2019

Electrolux to close St. Cloud Frigidaire plant at end of 2019

Move is part of a consolidation of company's U.S. operations.
Polaris shares tumbled despite fourth-quarter results that largely met expectations.

Polaris turnaround accelerates, but shares tumble on latest results

The company's latest profit was weighed down by tax adjustment and other one-time costs.
A crew with Gardner Builders works on the Andersen Windows warming house/studio. Ecolab, 3M, Target, Land O’Lakes, Thor, Polaris, Best Buy and other

Minnesota companies take advantage of brand-building opportunities around Super Bowl

Visitors will see familiar names as event sponsors and on special attractions.

Former Starkey executive Jeff Longtain said he took phony commissions

Testifying in the fraud trial against two other former executives and their business associates, he also said he came to believe that $2.3 million from a restricted stock sale was also improper.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M, in the groove as global economy thrives, raises outlook on tax-law gains

Strong fourth quarter, tax savings drive optimistic outlook for coming year.

Defense attorneys in Starkey trial try to poke holes in government's case

Defense payroll and other company records question Bill Austin's claims.

Prosecutors allege defendants in Starkey embezzlement case altered documents

Confiscated papers show underreported bonuses, theft, FBI prosecutor says.
Former Starkey president Jerry Ruzicka and former Starkey human resources manager Larry W. Miller (far right) leave the federal courthouse in Minneapo

Starkey trial continues with FBI testimony

Prosecutors start to unleash results of search warrants and computer forensics.

Starkey witness says computer searches found questionable documents

Two Starkey Laboratories IT managers got the surprise of their careers in 2015 when the company's owner ordered them to search co-workers' computers for evidence…
In 2016, former Starkey Hearing Technologies president Jerry Ruzicka and former Starkey human resources manager Larry Miller, right, leave the federal

Trial begins in $20 million embezzlement case at Starkey Labs

Prosecution lays out fraud case, while defendants' attorneys allege misdeeds by company owner Bill Austin in opening statements.
“We are ready to go,” said Larry Miller’s attorney, Paul Engh. “There was no fraud.”

Fraud trial against former Starkey executives starts Tuesday

The businessmen are accused of embezzling a combined $20 million from the company.
3M marketing manager Patrick Hiner says with the new smart filter, “we’re trying to simplify the process” of keeping the air inside houses clean

3M launches new bluetooth air filter

It has a sensor that monitors air quality and sends an alert to the homeowner when it is time to make a change.
Ecolab, based in downtown St. Paul, has acquired a New York water treatment company. (Provided by Ecolab)

Ecolab buys New York firm Cascade Water Services Inc.

Cascade expands Ecolab's boiler and HVAC water treatment unit.

Iron Range hopes to strike gold with IRRRB development grants

IRRRB grants help with business demolition, expansion, energy and job training programs.
Workers at Alexandria Industries in Alexandria, Minn.

Midwest manufacturers continue to grow, though levels slip in Minnesota

Business confidence shot to the highest levels in nearly 7 years despite concerns over NAFTA.
Iron workers set up a crane in 2014 to move steel for the construction of buildings on the site of Essar Steel Minnesota's taconite mine project in Na

New owners bring Essar project out of bankruptcy

Bankruptcy plan includes payment to contractors from stalled project.
Tucci Benucch, one of the original tenants at Mall of America, will close in February.

Tucci Benucch at Mall of America closing after 25 years

Workers will go to other restaurants in Twin Cities.
Spectro Alloys, an aluminum recycling company, received $146,007 to add two metal processing furnaces and about 5,000 square feet onto its facility.

Aid from Minnesota helps companies like Spectro Alloys in Rosemount to grow

One of several expansion projects receiving state aid, the company plans to add equipment and hire 10 workers.
New Caribou President John Butcher, in front of bags of coffee in Brooklyn Center, has a bold vision for the company.

After 25 years, Caribou Coffee sets sights on growing

The Brooklyn Center-based coffee chain is now the nation's second-largest, and it's betting on bagels, the Super Bowl and even more stores.
Trade, transportation and utilities led Minnesota's job gainers, adding 2,300 in November.

Minnesota employers cut 4,000 jobs in November, but jobless rate drops

The state's unemployment rate of 3.1 percent is a level not seen since summer of 2000.

Graco buys Florida equipment firm Smith Manufacturing

The deal, which closed Dec. 15, expands Graco's surface-preparation equipment business.
The Polaris 2016 RZR 900 White Lightning is one of the models being recalled.

Polaris RZRs still struggling with fires

Firm and feds warn of risks in previously recalled RZR off-road vehicles.
Scott Nelson

Fired Starkey CFO pleads guilty to conspiracy in plea agreement

Former CFO could face up to 60 months in prison on conspiracy charge.
The closure of the filtration products plant in Eagan by the end of 2018 is part of a larger 3M realignment plan that will affect 430 employees in Min

3M will shut Eagan filtration plant in 2018

About 150 employees will be affected.
Caribou Coffee shops are turning 25 on Thursday. Pictured is the location in the U.S. Bank building in downtown Minneapolis.

Caribou Coffee turns 25 years old with a deal and a new drink

Celebration includes discounts, new drink and antler-themed antics.
3M headquarters in Maplewood. (Provided by 3M)

3M sales to grow 5 to 7 percent in 2018

Maplewood-based multinational company said the U.S. and China will lead the way.
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