Andover company celebrates expansion project

by Eric Hagen
Staff Writer

An Andover company drew the attention of Minnesota’s governor, a few state legislators and many other dignitaries to its Jan. 27 ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its recent expansion.

DSTI Vice President John Knoll (right) explains to Gov. Mark Dayton how their rotary union is used within a vehicle mounted mine roller system designed to protect military vehicles from improvised explosive devices. DSTI Founder and President Jeff Meister and Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart are also in this photo. Photo by Eric Hagen

Dynamic Sealing Technologies Inc. (DSTI) develops and manufactures rotary unions for a variety of machines including oil drills, cancer treatment devices, wind turbines, concentrated solar power systems, gas turbines for power generators, and a dredging transfer system that vacuums the sea floor to create trenches and channels for ship passageways.

The business had humble beginnings in 2002 with three guys working in a 2,000-square-foot shop in Blaine, according to DSTI Vice President John Knoll, a Blaine High School graduate. Fellow Blaine graduate Jeff Meister would become the company’s president and founder and Elk River native Scott Ilstrup would become the production manager. All three are partners in the business.

After a stint in Ham Lake, DSTI found a home in Andover within the developing Andover Station North area on the north side of Bunker Lake Boulevard, west of Hanson Boulevard.

DSTI had 20 employees and earned $3.5 million in revenue in 2006. In 2011 the company employed 60 people and earned approximately $20 million in revenue, according to DSTI spokesperson Chris Larson.

The business is putting the finishing touches on more than doubling its Andover facility from 36,000-square-feet to 80,000-square-feet. Larson said expanded facility will give DSTI more space for manufacturing, quality inspection and shipping. Where the shipping area used to be will be an expanded assembly area, according to Larson. The machinery and employees will begin working in this new space around March. About 1,000 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony marking completion of construction.

Along with Gov. Mark Dayton a number of state and local officials attended the event to find out more about this business, including Rep. Tim Sanders, Rep. Peggy Scott, Sen. Michelle Benson, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, Anoka County Commission Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, the entire Andover City Council, and several Andover city staff.

Inc. Magazine last fall named DSTI the 45th fastest growing private manufacturing company in America between the years of 2007 and 2011.

“If you would have asked me 10 years ago where is DSTI going to be in 10 years, I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think it would have been here,” Knoll said. “But that’s what makes it exciting for me because who knows with this team where we’re going to be in the next 10 years. It’s going to be a good place. That much I guarantee you.”

Knoll said when there were good years, the employees stepped up to the plate so DSTI could make the most of it. When there were rough patches, employees had the company’s back and did what needed to be done to run lean and get back to the good times.

“We’ve come to a point now where DSTI has grown to a company that exports our products to 35 different countries,” Knoll said. “We’ve become a world-class provider of rotary unions, and we couldn’t have done that without the employees.”

Bill Daas of East Bethel has worked for DSTI for six years. He is amazed that DSTI has grown so fast. When asked what it means to him to see more developers and manufacturers being hired during a time when the nation is in a recession, Daas said, “It’s been amazing. Some other places have totally closed their doors and we’re still growing.”

“This is really an exciting day for DSTI, Andover and all of Minnesota,” Dayton said. “I just want to thank the founder and owners of the company who made a commitment to Minnesota and all the Minnesotans who are working in such a dedicated way to save people from cancer, protect our troops from IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Those kinds of projects are ones that I hope you take great pride in being a part of.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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