Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 08.07.2014

August 6, 2014

Today: Monte Nelson, Northfield Chief of Police, Rice County Drug Court (Madigan)

Birthdays:  Rotarians around the globe

Next Week: Todd Thompson, Teaching Music in Guatemala, (Sinning)

Two Weeks Ago:

Multek is a home-grown Northfield business. It was founded in 1955 by G.T. Schjeldahl in the Medical Arts Building in downtown Northfield. There, they produced flexible film coated with adhesives that created space-worthy materials for many high-profile projects such as the ECHO satellite and the space shuttles.

Later, they developed a process that gave birth to the flexible circuit which is used extensively in automobiles, electronics and medical devices.

In 1960, the company relocated to North Highway 3 and was called Sheldahl, an Anglicized version of the founder’s name that is easier to pronounce. They expanded to other states, but ultimately found themselves overextended. Sheldahl went into bankruptcy in 2002. In 2006, the business was purchased by Flextronics and renamed Multek.

This history came from Matt Saari, a longtime Northfielder, who serves as Multek’s Director of Product Engineering. He’s worked there for 33 years and says it is a great place to work. Of the 400 people now employed, the average length of service is 21 years. “When people come to work here, they tend to stay,” he said.

Multek’s flexible circuits are ubiquitous in today’s marketplace. You’ll find them in the dashboards of cars, drive-by steering assemblies, antennas, car console phone chargers, disposable catheters for heart patients, contact lenses that monitor blood sugar levels for diabetics, occupant detectors for customized air-bag deployment and on and on and on.

It has survived because of the low-cost process they have developed and a commitment to innovation. He said a generational change is afoot as those longtime employees he referenced earlier approach retirement age. There are a lot of them, which means employment opportunities to the next wave of engineers, sales people and product developers.


Chris Heineman is the Community Development Director for the City of Northfield. His job keeps him in touch with local business people, where he learns about what they do and what their future needs might be.

When he is not working, he searches out active, family-friendly pursuits, such as cycling, soccer, cross-country skiing, things he can do with his wife and two children. Chris also is interested in theater. He has performed in community productions and even taken a turn on the Guthrie stage. You know: “To be or not to be…”

Last Week’s Guests: Jennifer and Faye Caskey (Caskey), Rachel Metz, Carol Gengenbach and Adele Porter (Blaha).

Scholarship Enhancement: Rick Estenson. All paths lead to the bank, eventually.

First Job: Richard Collman started out cutting down poplar logs in Bob Dylan’s Great North Country. He moved on to become a honky-tonk piano player, all before seminary, mind you.


President Rich noted the Northfield was recently named the second most livable small town in the country by Livability.Com. Los Alamos, New Mexico was number one. Matt said he likes to think Rotary has something to do with the community’s high ranking.

Jean Wakely, a recent victim of a burglary, advised members to lock their homes, their cars, their cars in garages, their garages, to help police curb the rash of break-ins of late.

President Rich noted that Kathy Smith, a past District Governor for District 5960, is mentioned in a article about helping young women escape from poverty in the most recent Rotarian magazine.

Coming Up

August 21 — Matt Hillmann, Transformation Technology in Northfield Public Schools (C. Richardson)

August 28 — TBA

September 4 — Defeat of Jesse James Days Bike Tour chalk talk