ST. CLOUD -- What started as a small company selling sanding machines is now a fully working machine and job shop. Ickler in St. Cloud is up next in our Thriving Local series.

"The Ickler Company was purchased by my grandfather from Fred Ickler in 1940. At that point they were making floor sanding machines for wood floors. My grandfather and his company Seibert Machine was doing all of the machine work for these floor sanders that Mr. Ickler was making."

Todd McGonagle is the owner. He's been running the business since his grandfather passed in the 1980s. He says every day is a mystery.

"The Ickler Company is a job shop which means we do all types of work and we never know what we're going to be doing because that's customer driven."

Machining, welding, fabrication, you name it - if it's broken Ickler should be able to fix it.

"We've made, we always say everything from boat propellers to dump trucks. The city brought in a road grader last year that we had to rebuild the blade, all of the bushings were worn out. So we disassembled a lot of the road grader and made new parts for that."

The list just goes on. To be able to provide such a variety of services, Ickler uses both computer and manual based machines.

"When it makes sense to make a part on a manual machine, we'll use the manual machine. If it makes sense to use the computer-driven machine for some intricate profiles we'll use the computerized machine but sometimes, and this is where we really shine, we use the computer-driven machine for one operation and then pass it to the manual shop for the second operation."

McGonagle says this helps lower their costs for customers.

Finding skilled workers to operate both types of machines is today's challenge. McGonagle says they hope to inspire the next generation of machinists.

"We have been having a hard time finding people with good mechanical skills that want to learn manual trades. I really feel there is a place in the future for the type of work that Ickler does. It's fun work in a lot of ways."

Looking toward the future, Ickler would like to continue to be the go-to place to fix all of life's problems...well maybe not all of them but a good chunk.

If you have a suggestion for a business that's thriving locally here in central Minnesota, let us know! Email chrissy@wjon.com

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