Minnesota’s Economic News — W/E 2/23/24
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Two young Minnesotans are on a mission: to change the way young Americans view manufacturing.
Tobias Flood and Mark Eiden are the founders of Metal Trade Solutions (MTS), a metal fabrication business in Winsted. They started the business in 2017 after their first year at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
The Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch has the story:
Tobias Flood and Mark Eiden aren’t afraid of hard work.
At 22 years old, they’ve already started their own business, on top of earning college degrees and holding down full-time jobs.
Flood, an alumnus of Dassel-Cokato High School, and Eiden, who graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Winsted, began operating their metal fabrication business, Metal Trade Solutions (MTS), in March [of 2017].
Flood told the paper that he and his partner want to change their peers’ image of manufacturing. “Modern manufacturing is clean and competitive,” he explained, “and our focus is showing American manufacturing can compete with foreign markets.”
The two young men are well on their way to their goal:
Located at 311 First Street in Winsted in a portion of the former Dairy Concepts creamery, MTS’s primary markets include mid-Minnesota manufacturers that need welding, fabrication, CNC plasma cutting, and machine tool services, as well as contracts for small and medium weldments and machined components for low part quantities.
“Right now, it’s mainly family and friends,” Eiden said, explaining that the company aims to “take it slow,” and gradually build on its success.
Working in the manufacturing industry “comes naturally” to Flood and Eiden, according to the paper:
Eiden…grew up on a dairy farm in rural Chaska. As a boy, he loved fixing machinery and learning how things worked. Although Eiden didn’t have specific machining experience until college, it didn’t take long for him to become an expert.
Flood…was also attracted to hands-on activities and took as many shop classes as he could in high school.
When the two students met at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, they discovered that they had similar goals.
“After our first year of school, we thought ‘let’s open a shop,’” Flood recalled.
“We realized that with the right skills and equipment, we could fabricate anything,” Eiden added.
To prepare to start their own business, Flood and Eiden took a number of business classes, and earned their associate’s degrees in machine tool technology with an emphasis in mold making.
They also supplemented their incomes with outside manufacturing jobs—Eiden at 3D CNC in Hutchinson as a CNC operator, and Flood at Aubright Inc., in St. Cloud as a CNC programmer.
Planning the launch of Eiden and Flood’s Metal Trade Solutions business required significant planning, and also assistance with funding:
Before opening MTS, Flood and Eiden spent many months creating a business model. One major resource was St. Cloud’s small business development center. Through that, they were introduced to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), which offered financing for the business start-up costs.
As microloan clients, Eiden and Flood receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff – who all have personal business experience, according to a press release. Areas of support include business planning and reading financials, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance, and other opportunities for the life of the loan.
Eiden told the Enterprise-Dispatch that the two hope to have their first loan paid off soon. They also intend to purchase a CNC mill:
Long-term plans include purchasing a building for MTS, but for now Eiden and Flood are happy renting space from the K-Way Express owners, who are Eiden’s uncles.
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