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Lakeshirts remodeling in final stages of $10 million project

The new twisty slide from an upper floor down to the new employee break room gives you a good idea what the renovation project at Lakeshirts is all about.

Lakeshirts
An artist’s rendering of the new front addition to Lakeshirts’ Doghouse Dyeworks in Detroit Lakes, which replaces an older A-frame type building. Lakeshirts is getting a facelift, inside and out. Submitted photo

The new twisty slide from an upper floor down to the new employee break room gives you a good idea what the renovation project at Lakeshirts is all about.

No, this isn’t Google headquarters, but it might be the closest thing locally.

With a subsidized cafeteria that is three times its former size comes a greatly improved employee dining room.

While some employees will appreciate the air hockey game, old pinball machines and arcade bowling machine in the spacious dining room, others will be drawn to the adjoining online video game room, complete with plush red velvet theater chairs.

Four chairs will face one direction, four chairs another direction and four chairs a third direction, “so 12 can be playing video games at the same time,” said Lakeshirts owner Mike Hutchinson.

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There’s also a flat-screen TV and comfortable furniture in one corner of the break room.

The slide down to a thickly padded mat was just a fun thing to throw into the mix, Hutchinson added. And it’s not just for show. It gets used all the time, said Human Resources Manager Kara Bren.

But there’s a lot more to the renovations than a busy break room.

The overall project to the wholesale apparel supplier on Randolph Road in Detroit Lakes involves the whole facility, including additions on the front of the main buildings to beautify the exterior and provide a nice welcome to clients and other visitors.

 

The interior of the main building entrance will feature a fireplace and a display of Lakeshirts memorabilia, highlighting its 30-plus-year history.

Lakeshirts has expanded its buildings and operations repeatedly as it has grown, and it now has seven buildings, some interconnected, with a total of nearly 300,000 square feet of operating space in the Detroit Lakes Industrial Park.

 “We added onto our building so many times, the offices kind of became a maze,” Hutchinson said. “We decided to redo the offices and give a little more casual look to it than sheetrock.”

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Over the years, a lot of money and time have been invested in improving products for customers. Now co-owners Hutchinson and Mark Fritz are looking inwards, and have launched the major remodeling and beautification project to tie everything together and make life better for the company’s 340 employees. (That number increases to 380 in the summer season.)

Call it the final stage of a $10 million plant expansion project, said Hutchinson, who is spearheading the renovation project, supervising the work and doing much of it himself.

The recent addition to the production facility gave it 60 percent more operational capacity and Lakeshirts can now produce up to 25,000 items a day, or 7 million shirts a year.

 “The production expansion cost $8 million,” Hutchinson said. “We’re still expanding in production; we put another $1.5 million into equipment this year.”

The remodeling project, which will cost up to $2 million, is ongoing.

 “People want to be proud of where they work,” said Hutchinson. “This is the first time we’ve invested in that part of the business.”

It’s all part of following through on the company’s core values and culture, said Bren, the human resources manager.

 “People on tours always like our culture, people noticed it was kind of cool,” she said. “Now the 

Related Topics: DETROIT LAKES
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