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Perham's Darrin Swanson named Small Business Person of the Year

The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Darrin Swanson, owner of Kit Masters, Inc. and Swan Machine, Inc. in Perham, the Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year.

The Small Business Person of the Year is selected annually based on growth in sales or unit volume, increase in the number of employees, financial strength, innovativeness of products or services and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects.

Swanson was nominated for the award by employees of the West Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center, including: Cathy Lindquist, regional director; Forest "Skip" Carpenter, business consultant; and Amanda Nygaard, program coordinator

Darrin, along with his father, Keith Swanson, founded Kit Masters and Swan Machine. Darrin is currently CEO and chairman of each board of directors. He has 20 years of experience in the heavy-duty fan clutch industry, servicing the independent aftermarket in North America. His prior work includes being an independent manufacturer's representative and serving the five-state region for several leading manufacturers in the heavy-duty market.

Darrin is the current president of the Perham Area Foundation and the past president of both St. Henry's Area School and the Perham Chamber of Commerce. He, his wife Jill, and their three sons, Randy, Paul and Mark, have been heavily involved in the Perham area by donating their time and talents to several causes.

"I enjoy giving back to such a great community that has given so much to me and my family," Darrin said.

He feels that the best years are yet to come and he and his family look forward to the next chapters in what has been their 'great American dream.'

Darrin is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys fishing, hunting, and riding his ATV. In 2011, he passed his private pilot certificate, and he said he enjoys the challenge and thrill of flight.

Kit Masters manufactures and markets completely remanufactured fan clutches, fan clutch rebuild kits, thermo switches, solenoid valves and fan blades for heavy-duty and medium-duty markets.

In 2003, Kit Masters constructed a 16,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Perham (15,600 square feet bigger than their original facility). In 2004, with their business model proving successful, they doubled the size of the plant. They sell to more than 600 customers, representing more than 1,200 ship-to locations worldwide.

Swan Machine utilizes cutting-edge technology and equipment, along with precision instrumentation, to bring high-volume or one-of-a-kind components. The company offers a full range of capabilities to take parts from concept to completion. Their services include engineering, parts reconditions, retail packaging and documentation and drop-ship programs.

Darrin and his staff are known for being experts in their field and for being easy to work with. They structure their policies to support customers: same day shipping, 99 percent fill rate, low freight prepaid policy, easy core policy, easy warranty policy, and a user friendly catalog are only a few examples. Their natural reaction is to say "yes" to customers.

The Swansons have come a tremendous distance in 16 years. The addition of family members - Craig (quality control and engineering), Brian (sales manager), and Trent Swanson (customer service and marketing) - plus a dozen more highly valued employees, have helped pave their way to success.