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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

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.
3M is selling its optical fiber business to Corning.

3M will sell Corning its optical-fiber telecom business for $900 million

$900M deal is the latest sales transaction for the Twin Cities corporation.
The iron ore business is bouncing back on the Range after some lean times.

Cleveland-Cliffs acquires iron ore reserves from Glacier Park Iron

The company bought or leased nearly 3,800 acres near Nashwauk, Minn.
R. TSONG-TAATARII • Star Tribune
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are made possible thanks to Graco equipment.

Graco Inc. declares 3-for-1 stock split

It marks the company's 12th split since becoming a public firm in 1969.
Former Starkey president Jerry Ruzick, center in foreground, in 2016.

Fired president demands Starkey pay his legal fees for embezzlement case

Company spokesman calls lawsuit filed by Jerry Ruzicka 'incredulous.'
Ecolab made four small acquisitions that expand its pest elimination and sanitizing and food safety businesses.

Ecolab's buying spree continues

New small deals add to the St. Paul company's pest elimination, and sanitizing and food services operations.

North Central Stamping employee gets 33 months in jail for embezzlement

Former controller pleaded guilty to stealing $1.1 million to fund car restoration hobby.
3M has pledged another $8 million to University of Minnesota. (Photo by Ken Wolter)

3M gives $8 million more to University of Minnesota campaign

The new gift will support STEM and business education and brings 3M's total gift to $26 million.
3M did not specify what remedy it is seeking in the lawsuit.

3M sues Kerr Corp. alleging dental-patent infringement

Lawsuit is focusing on two dental-composite products.
Manufacturing reports for November shows a slight slowdown both nationally and in Minnesota. Shown is the Festo distribution center in Mason, Ohio.

Midwest factory growth slowed in November

Creighton University report finds orders and exports rise even as deliveries slow.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that will open in Woodbury in May 2018. (Rendering provided by Hodges Architecture)

Movie theater/restaurant Alamo Drafthouse Cinema coming to Woodbury

Complex with nine theaters and bar to open in Woodbury in May
Minntac in Mountain Iron, Minn., is now back open but was idled in 2016, causing taxes paid in 2017 to be lower. (GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune file photo)

This year's tax payment from Minnesota's iron ore industry is down 11 percent

The $96.5M reflects lower production in 2016, the third such decrease.
With ERP Iron Ore's setback in Grand Rapids, Minn., investors have told public officials they will shift their attention to completing the deal to buy

Rebirth plans for old Magnetation site in Grand Rapids on hold

New owners shift focus to finishing Nashwauk plant, restoring Iron Range jobs.
Proto Labs CEO Vicki Holt (RICHARD SENNOTT/Star Tribune file photo)

Proto Labs to buy sheet metal firm Rapid Manufacturing for $120 million

Deal to close by year end and add 300 workers.
Hubert Humphrey get a lesson on how to handle a pistol in 1947 from Vern Bartholomew, his one-time bodyguard.

Former Minneapolis cop Vern Bartholomew, a kind soul who helped anyone in need, dies at 100

His work included time as a chauffeur and bodyguard to Hubert Humphrey.
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