Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 04.25.2013

April 24, 2013

Today: Adnan, Youth Exchange Presentation (Quinnell)

Birthdays: Richard Maus 4/24.

Next Week: Dick Bodman, Retired St. Olaf Professor, China in Africa (Flaten)

Last Week: 

With the snowy weather of late our speaker, Paul Mooty, could have easily sold us some of his Faribault Woolen Mills Company blankets, but we were content just to hear the amazing story of how this historic company has been given new life.

Paul Mooty, past President of the Edina Rotary Club, and his cousin, Chuck Mooty, purchased Faribault Woolen Mills in 2011, two years after the previous owners had closed the business and abandoned the plant. Both Paul and Chuck have extensive legal and business experience and welcomed the challenge to breathe new life into the oldest manufacturing company in Minnesota.

Carl Klemer, an immigrant from Germany, began the company in 1865 with a carding machine to process raw wool, and by 1877 he was manufacturing blankets. In 1882 the original building of the existing complex along the river was completed.  Water power from the adjoining dam powered the mill until the 1930’s.

Faribault Woolen Mills continued to grow and became the industry leader in the USA. One hundred thousand blankets were produced for WWI soldiers and 250,000 for WWII soldiers. In 1949 stadium blankets were introduced, followed by moth-proof and washable blankets in the late 1950s.

Previous owners closed the mill in 2009, leaving without even cleaning off desks.  Paul and Chuck took a risk and purchased the business just before much of the specialized equipment was to be sold and shipped to Pakistan. After major upgrades to electrical, plumbing, heating and other building systems in the 175,000 square foot facility in 2011, the 145 year-old mill once again manufactures high quality blankets all the way from receiving the raw wool to shipping the finished product.  The mill facility is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Four new looms have been installed to increase capacity. Several former mill employees were rehired and employment currently totals approximately 50.

Landing a good contract with J.C. Penney Co. and working diligently to encourage internet buying, Faribault Woolen Mills once again sells excellent quality blankets that last and last.  What an upbeat success story – thanks to Paul Mooty for a great presentation.

Mini Classification: Devon Barnes has accepted a new job in Owatonna and unfortunately will be resigning from the club.  He will continue to live in Northfield with his wife Kimberly and their two children and promises to stay in touch.   Best wishes to Devon.

Visiting Rotarian: Ryan Heinritz, Director, Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault

Guests: Nate Carlson (Conway), Ron McDonald (Taylor), exchange students: Diatou, Adnan, Mizuki, Cindy and Rachel.

Scholarship Enhancement: Linda Wilgohs (again?)


Kurt Larsen will soon be offering Rotary clothing for sale at Larsen Printing – stay tuned for further details and perhaps a style show.

Be sure to reserve the evening of Thursday, June 6, for an exchange student graduation party at the Estenson Ranch.

Check out the website for Lakeville Rotary Club’s “Taste of Lakeville” fundraising event scheduled for Thursday, May 16, from 5 – 9 pm at the Lakeville Area Arts Center:

Neil Lutsky is looking for a member to volunteer to be the Club Archivist.  Lynne Young is retiring from serving in this capacity for many years – thanks Lynne.

Coming Up:

May 9 — Tim Madigan, City Administrator, History of US/Dakota War (Reppmann)

May 16 — Zach Pruitt, Healthy Community Initiative

May 23 — Lin Bruce, Tales of Biking Across the USA (Prowe)