The ground clutter was cleared and a few footings have already been readied, but St. Michael’s Marksman Metals took time to celebrate with a few friends last week with an official ribbon cutting for its 35,000 square-foot expansion.
The new building for Marksman, owned by longtime St. Michael resident and community advocate Pete Scharber and his wife, Flori, marks the biggest shift in the company’s two-decade presence here in St. Michael, and the biggest leap of faith for Scharber, a very public Christian, since shifting his business from the inner-ring of Minneapolis suburbs to the then-rural setting of St. Michael.
“Our commitment is here, to this community, and it will be for a long time,” Scharber said. “We’ve been very fortunate to work with such good people here and receive tremendous support from our employees and the city.”
The expansion will bring a new, state-of-the-art painting system into Marksman’s repertoire. The precision manufacturer (the current plant cuts metal and steel with laster and punch presses) has, up to now, relied on outsourcing its parts for the painting process, before passing them on to users such as John Deer, IBM and others. Now, Scharber’s crew of machinists, welders and fabricators will now be working with in-house paint operators.
The City of St. Michael chipped in to assist in the expansion, creating a TIF District for the parcel, which sits between the current Marksman building (to the east) and Lucky Pets. The district will reduce direct property tax charges for Scharber in the first few years of the expansion’s cycle. It will eventually expire in nine years.
One agreement Scharber pitched to the city is the TIF would hold him to an $11 per hour minimum wage for the expansion. The two sides approved that portion of the TIF agreement at a meeting earlier this month and kept the higher-than average wage as part of the contact.
“We’ve been blessed each year,” Scharber said after telling a story of how Flori used to do his books, and returned to him after the first quarter to show that Marksman had, indeed, made a profit in its first audit. “And we’ve worked with some wonderful people.”