TOWER- With site prep and foundation work already underway, city officials here held a groundbreaking of sorts for the new city-owned manufacturing facility being built in Tower’s Industrial Park. Officials from the IRRRB, the owners of Lamppa Manufacturing, which will be the facility’s first tenant, as well as local residents all gathered at the Tower Civic Center on Tuesday to mark the occasion.
“These projects take a lot of hours and effort,” Tower’s Acting Mayor Kevin Fitton told the roughly three dozen people who attended the groundbreaking event on Tuesday. “We are always looking to bring new businesses and new jobs to Tower.”
Fitton stepped in at the last minute after Mayor Josh Carlson was called out of town for a family medical emergency. Fitton also helped ferry people from the Tower Civic Center to the construction site, using the Vermilion Country School’s bus. The building site is just off Hwy. 135, right on the edge of Tower. It is the first building to be constructed in the Industrial Park, which was developed more than a decade ago. The building will be owned by the Tower Economic Development Authority (TEDA), which will repay the loan from proceeds from the rental income from the building.
Matt Sjoberg, the IRRRB Executive Director of Development, complimented TEDA, the city, and SEH Engineering for their work on the project. He also said the IRRRB is excited to work with a business like Lamppa Manufacturing.
“Thanks to Daryl Lamppa, Garrett Lamppa, and Dale Horihan,” Sjoberg said. “This is a really exciting home-grown business. This is the type of growth we hope to see happen.”
TEDA Chairman Steve Peterson Sr. said the city is excited to be partnering with this 83-year-old local business. TEDA, first under the leadership of Marshall Helmberger, and now Peterson, has been working with the Lamppa family, the IRRRB, and the city to finalize this deal for over a year.
Garrett Lamppa, who is the fourth-generation to be involved in the family business, recounted all the long hours his father Daryl and grandfather Herb put into developing the exclusive technology which makes their stoves and furnaces the most environmentally-friendly wood-burning devices in the country. Garrett would come to his grandparents’ house after school or sports and wait for a ride home from his father. The wait, he said, often was as late as 8 p.m.
Daryl Lamppa admitted that dealing with the EPA regulations has been “nerve-wracking” and he said there has been pushback from other larger wood stove manufacturers to have the 2020 emissions standards decreased. Daryl said in that case, several nationwide health advocacy groups would be ready to sue the government, along with Lamppa, to keep the new standards in place.
Daryl said that manufacturing the stoves in their current location, the former Tower Dairy building on South Third St., has been challenging. The company hired Horihan, who has experience in manufacturing, to help them modernize their processes and help with the expansion.
“Dale has been a huge help,” said Garrett.
Garrett, whose four-year old daughter Taimi was at the ceremony, said he hopes she may find a place in the company when she grows up, becoming the fifth-generation of the family to help run the business.
Herb Lamppa was not able to attend the ceremony due to health concerns. Herb is a former mayor of Tower and also served several terms on the St. Louis County Board.
“He wants to see this business succeed in Tower,” said Daryl. “It’s a combination of his brains and my sisu that got us here today.”
Horihan said the company has a series of goals to meet, the first of which is the completion of the new manufacturing facility. Then, he said, it will be hiring dependable employees, investing in new equipment, upgrading their manufacturing processes, and developing new markets. Right now the stoves are sold directly to customers, but with the new expansion they are planning to develop dealership opportunities.
“We are looking at constant change,” said Horihan.
Half of the 9,000 square foot building will be leased by Lamppa Manufacturing, which is hoping to get the business moved as early as December. The other half of the building will be available for another tenant. The building is being financed by the IRRRB, at a cost of $1.85 million. Lenci Construction is the general contractor.
This new location will allow Lamppa to expand its workforce from eight to 20, and to significantly increase the number of stoves sold each year.
Lamppa is currently the only wood-burning stove manufacturer able to meet new air quality standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for smoke emissions that are set to go into place in 2020. They now have both sizes of their Vapor-Fire model wood-burning furnaces certified to meet EPA 2020 standards. The stoves use specially-developed sensors and computerized controls to achieve almost perfect burning conditions. Besides emitting a small fraction of the soot typical of other wood-burning stoves, the Lamppa wood furnaces can heat homes using significantly less wood due to their high efficiency. The Twin Cities-based Environmental Initiative said that replacing one old wood-burning furnace with a Lamppa stove is equivalent to removing 700 cars from the road due to reduced particulate emissions. Lamppa manufactures the Kuuma line of sauna stoves and Kuuma Vapor-Fire Furnaces. Learn more online at www.lamppakuuma.com.