In the past twelve months, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has taken action against 96 businesses and individuals who failed to comply with plumbing regulations.

Most of them performed unlicensed plumbing work or directed employees to do so. Generally, the state requires that improper work be inspected and corrected. Some violators get fined, and those who are unlicensed are told to cease and desist.

Here are the companies or individuals who were assessed the highest payable fines between June 1, 2010, and May 31, 2011.

Robert N. Ackland, Albert Lea, $3,685 fine

Ackland's journeyman plumber license was suspended after he did sewer work for an Albert Lea homeowner. The work, which was done in May 2008, required a master plumber license and a plumbing bond. The work needed to be repaired in 2008 and 2009, according to the state. The homeowner, who had to regrade his yard after each repair, won a $2,326 judgment against Ackland. Ackland remains suspended and, as of last week, has not paid the state's fine.

Lakes Area Home Services Inc., Chanhassen, $3,000 fine ($7,000 stayed)

The licensed building contractor allowed unlicensed workers or subcontractors to perform plumbing and electrical work. Plumbing and electrical testimonials on its website prompted investigators to scrutinize the business.

Dean's Professional Plumbing Inc., and Dean Adelman, Rogers, $2,500 fine ($5,000 stayed)

Dean's allowed an unregistered apprentice to install plumbing without supervision and with an expired apprentice registration. The company had been previously warned about the same apprentice.

Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, $2,000 fine ($8,000 stayed)

Ecolab had unlicensed employees perform plumbing work, including the installation of soap dispensers in commercial dish-washing machines, and failed to file a plumbing bond.

Bertils Gravel & Excavation LLC, Crookston, $1,500 fine ($2,000 stayed)

Bertils installed plumbing without being properly licensed, submitting plans, filing a plumbing bond or calling for inspections. The company agreed to have the sanitary sewer at Titan Machinery in Crookston tested and inspected. Corrections to the original work were ultimately required.

John Fisher, Cook, $1,500 fine ($3,500 stayed)

Fisher installed plumbing in a commercial building he owned in Cook, Minn., without being licensed, submitting plans or calling for inspections, according to the state. Fisher agreed to uncover the plumbing at Vermilion Veterinary Clinic, where the work took place, hire an inspector, have any corrections made and submit plumbing plans to the state.

Richard Frie, doing business as Frie's Repair, Pequot Lakes, $1,500 fine ($3,500 stayed)

Frie installed plumbing in a commercial building he owned without being licensed or submitting plans to the state, according to the agency. He agreed to uncover the plumbing work, which was done at Frie's Repair in Pequot Lakes, have it inspected and have any corrections made.

Shermans LLC, West Fargo, N.D., $1,500 fine ($3,500 stayed)

The company installed a storm sewer pipe at a high school in Dilworth, Minn., but failed to submit plumbing plans, use only licensed workers or supervise an apprentice, according to the state. The company failed to call for inspections before covering up the plumbing.

Dean Wilson, doing business as Dean Wilson Plumbing, Hallock, $1,500 fine ($3,500 stayed)

Wilson did the work of a master plumber while being registered as a plumbing apprentice and without a plumbing bond. He advertised plumbing services and failed to stop after the state sent him a letter about his unlicensed work.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rule breakers in Minnesota. Contact me at