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Kit Masters breaks new ground

Marie Nitke/FOCUS Pictured at a groundbreaking ceremony last week are employees of Kit Masters and Swan Machine, including the Swanson family (Trudy, Darrin, Craig, Brian and Trent, in the hard hats), along with representatives of Hammers Construction. Not pictured are employees of Esser Plumbing and Heating and Hendrickx Electric, who are also involved in the project.

The company broke ground on a new 30,000-square-foot addition last Wednesday - a project that co-founder Darrin Swanson credits to continued growth and success of the business.

The new space will be used for warehousing and manufacturing, and will give Kit Masters the room to serve existing customers at an even higher level, as well as introduce some new products in the future.

Darrin, who started the company in 1996 with his father, Keith, said this expansion was just one of more expected to happen down the road.

"The best years are yet to come," he said with a smile. "We're already looking forward to the next addition."

This kind of growth was always the hope of Keith, said Trudy Swanson of her late husband. The business started out of a garage with just four employees, but "he always said it'd grow bigger."

Today, Kit Masters employs 70 people - Swanson brothers Darrin, Craig, Brian and Trent among them - and serves more than 600 customers at 1,200 locations worldwide. At its state-of-the-art Perham facility, the company manufactures high- quality fan clutches, rebuild kits and accessories for heavy and medium duty markets.

The Swansons moved Kit Masters to Perham from the Twin Cities several years ago, bringing a few other families with them to build the business in the community they had come to know and love during summers at the family cabin.

"Perham is so very welcoming to new businesses," said Trudy. "They've been very supportive of us."

"It's fun to work in the place where you enjoy living," added Darrin.

The Swansons also own Swan Machine, which operates out of the same Perham facility.

Swan Machine partners with clients to create high volume or one-of-a-kind machined components, from concept to completion.

Planning for this latest expansion on the facility was in the works for nearly a year. The original plan kept growing and evolving, Darrin said, until "finally we just had to pull the trigger and pick what's best for today."

The addition is expected to be open around the start of the year.