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40 years and counting: BTD celebrates 40 years in business this month

BTD has grown substantially over the last 40 years its been in business. The Detroit Lakes location currently holds about 540 employees, quite a few more than they imagined they'd have. Submitted Photo

BTD capped off 40 years in business this month, calling Detroit Lakes its headquarters home for the last 39 of those years.

"Detroit Lakes has just been a great community for us, and we're hoping after 40 years in Detroit Lakes, they're proud to have us too," said BTD President Paul Gintner.

BTD opened a location in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1979, with the business founders, Paul White and Earl Rasmussen, setting down some shallow roots and quickly deciding Minnesota is where they wanted to be.

"They were both originally from Minnesota. They saw that there was a lot more work back toward Minnesota, and they wanted to both get back into the state," said Gintner.

Over the years, the business has grown substantially. While Gintner says they will always consider Detroit Lakes their home base, the metal fabricator company also has locations in Illinois and Georgia.

"One of the biggest challenges, a number of years back, in the early 2000s, we kind of saw that our growth was going to outgrow Detroit Lakes," recalled Gintner, adding that they even have more employees at their Detroit Lakes location than they anticipated, currently sitting around 540.

But with a strong foothold in their hometown community and a core company culture of hard work and treating customers and employees right, the company survived its growing pains and flourished across the nation.

"I think you have to go back to the original founders. They just built a really great culture in the organization," said Gintner of BTD's tools for succeeding over the last four decades. "You look at that culture of where we started — it really becomes the soul of the organization, and I think that's still alive even today."

The business sold to Otter Tail Corporation in 1995, but both of the founders stayed with the company, and the change of hands has evolved organically that way. White even returned to the company's Detroit Lakes location this month to address the employees and partake in the 40th anniversary celebration. Gintner says White spoke a lot about continuing to treat employees, customers, and the entire community right and going forward, they plan to do just that.

"We have this motto now, that we call ourselves one BTD," said Gintner, explaining that it should feel the same for employees and customers no matter what BTD location they are working at or purchasing from.

Of course, they are a very diverse company that occupies a lot of market spaces, as far as supplying metal products, and they are keeping that in mind moving forward, as well.

"Is there a new industry or a market that we can be looking at down the road? Could BTD make its own products? Is there another geographic area that could support BTD?" said Gintner, hinting at the discussions he and his colleagues are having now about where the business may go. "I think we have a lot of growth left in the industries we serve."

Always looking to provide quality and grow as they do, Gintner says their heart is still very much with Detroit Lakes, and it will continue to be. He says he hopes BTD can continue to be supported by and support the community for many years to come.

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